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Connection Method Selection 

During development, it is essential to have a fast and reliable connection between the Smart Device and the development computer. Although the Smart Device emulators can be used in almost all stages of development, testing your application on a real-world piece of hardware is a vital part of the development cycle.

Many connection options are available, as summarized later in this article. The most common configurations are:

  • Connecting to the Device Emulator using the DMA transport. This transport eliminates network-related connection issues, and typically ships as the default transport. Unless you have some serious reason for using another transport, always use the DMA transport for the Device Emulator.

  • Connecting to a physical device using ActiveSync 4.x and a USB port.

You can access these and other options from the Visual Studio Tools menu. For more information, see How to: Set Connection Options (Devices).

ActiveSync 4.x

ActiveSync 4.x provides a secure connection between the development computer and a device using cable, cradle, Bluetooth, or infrared connections. It also provides the vehicle by which required connection and security files are automatically downloaded to the device. When you cradle a device, ActiveSync turns off all other network cards, so you know your device is communicating only with the development computer. ActiveSync is the standard connection mechanism while you develop your device application.

If ActiveSync support is not available for your device, see How to: Connect to Windows CE Device Without ActiveSync.

Connection Options

Pocket PCs, Smartphones, and other Windows CE-based hardware offer many ways of linking a device and a computer. In this section, the various connection options and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed.

Depending on the hardware device involved, one or more of the following connection methods can be employed.

USB Connection

The simplest form of connection, all Pocket PC and Smartphone devices support a USB connection. Although not as fast as an Ethernet or Wireless 802.11b/g connection, the simplicity of the USB connection makes it an attractive option. Many devices will also be powered by means of the USB port, which is an added convenience.

Wired Ethernet network

Pocket PC and Smartphone devices do not by default support Ethernet connections without additional hardware. However, the extra speed of this connection standard makes it the preferred way to perform debugging and other data-intensive operations.

Wireless 802.11b/g network

Wireless network cards are available for Pocket PCs, and several models now come with wireless networking as an integral feature. Wireless networking is as fast as a wired Ethernet network connection.


Many Pocket PC and Smartphone devices feature Bluetooth wireless networking. Once paired, the Smart Device can connect over ActiveSync as long as it is within range of the desktop computer. Bluetooth is not as fast as 802.11b/g wireless, and is not recommended for debugging.

Serial connection

If no USB or wired or wireless networking options are available, a serial port makes an acceptable, if slow, way of connecting a Smart Device to a development computer.

Infrared connection

Infrared connections require no additional wiring, and both Pocket PC and Smartphone devices come with IrDA ports as standard. However, infrared connections require line-of-sight to operate reliably, and even then performance is not acceptable for debugging. However, IrDA can be useful as a last resort technique to copy files to devices.

See Also