I always have used unencrypted connection: in public places like pubs or restaurants, at my university we also have an unecrypted WiFi with VPN (vpnc works well here). I ever experienced any noticeable packet loss as it was reported by some other users.
I have used these commands to connect:
iwlist scan |less #(to find the hotspot) iwconfig eth0 mode Managed iwconfig eth0 essid ABC #(to connect to hotspot - "ABC" for example) udhpc eth0 #(DHCP client)
There is one problem: it is necessary to insert the WiFi card into the slot only AFTER device boot. It is not recognized if it is inserted before boot.
I have used the Mutt for e-mails, the Links browser (and Surfraw to start it) and a Czech transport finder spoje.py. Of course, WWW experience is limited by text mode and (mainly) by screen size but for most cases it is acceptable (googling, reading wikipedia, online dictionaries and so on). I don’t use IM too much so I only tried to start MCabber to see who is online on Google Talk and it works (anyway the Climm seems to be a more suitable IM client for so small screen. There is only one type of application that I miss – a RSS reader.
A battery usage seems to be about 0.5-1% per minute (no power management is available in device driver). It may be too much for prolonged usage but if one needs to connect for short periods (to check emails, to send or to dowload something) it is acceptable. I’s still good for an option which is oficially unsupported by manufacturer.
I’m thinking about making a simple dialog-based configuration utility for the Ben. But the rest of things seem to be functional enough.
Anyway, I use my Ben mostly offline (for notetaking, like a dictionary, as a calendar, todo list, music player,…) and a possibility of a WiFi connection is usefull only for some cases (during traveling and so).