I own 3-4 PDAs and yet my favorite one remains the legendary PalmV. There is something about its design & looks that makes me feel nostalgic of another tech era. As much as I enjoy using the PalmV when away, its lack of direct internet connection capability is bothersome. The only way I can directly connect to the net with it, is via a modem. Enter Pegasus III: The smallest modem of its kind today, able to serve both via infrared and a serial port. This is a modem that’s supported by most PDAs, PC, laptops and virtually every operating system out there.The device is manufactured by 3JTech who seem to have a long experience with communication circuits if we are to judge from their product line-up. The Pegasus is a very small device, smaller than the actual PDAs I tested it with. It works with either an AC adapter or 4 AAA batteries. Without batteries is extremely light and with the batteries is about as heavy as the PalmV itself (which is not much really). It features a speaker, an LED to inform us of its status (ON and LOW Battery), while on the back side you will find the OFF/IR/Serial switch which can switch between the different modes of operation.
The 56k fax/modem comes with a… floppy disk which includes the manual, the Windows .inf drivers and a handy… AT commands manual in PDF format. Also in the box you will find a phone cable, a serial cable and the AC adapter. The manual has a quite a few grammar errors but it’s easily understandable. It explains how to use the modem with PalmOS, PocketPC, Sharp Zaurus, Psion and other devices. I must say that installation is not exactly straight forward enough, but it’s close. Also, the PocketPC interface has changed since the manual was written so you will have to improvise a bit if you own a newer PPC (like in my case). As for PalmOS 5.x there is a new PDF manual to download.
Testing the modem, reveals that it works well up to 1 meter away (3JTech claims 1.5 meters and 15 degrees angle). The batteries seem to last very long and so there is definetely no power problem. However, there is a small usability issue as the modem would turn itself off completely if no data is transmitted within 1 minute of time and there is no way to change this timeout. The funny thing is, the wrapping box claims that the modem will go to sleep after 5 seconds of no usage and it will turn itself off after 3 minutes, but the manual says 4 seconds and 1 minute respectively. On my version of the modem, the manual was more correct than the box. It would be nice to not power down automatically when the modem is connected to the AC power instead of the batteries. In any way, here are the AT commands to remove the timeout completely by using a terminal:
and then reset the modem.
What I really love about this modem is the fact that it’s coupling as both as serial and as IR modem. No matter if you want to use your laptop or your PDA, there’s always a way! As serial modem it works with all OSes that support serial communications, and this includes Linux, BSD, OS/2, DOS and BeOS. If you want to use it as an IR modem and it happens your PC/laptop does not have an infrared port, there are many USB-2-IR dongles out there to choose from for less than $30!
Overall, the modem is a must-have if you travel a lot with a laptop or PDA that have no other ways of communicating. For example, I have a PDA with WiFi and Bluetooth and a laptop that can do WiFi and Ethernet, but many times I am in places that only a telephone line is available. For these times, the Pegasus is your definite companion.
Good points: light, durable, small, handy, couples as IR and serial fax/modem.
Bad points: irky to setup in some platforms, manual needs proofreading/updating.