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El Cheapo Modem

Once you’ve got your Second Sight BBS running the Giga-ROM, you might want to upgrade your modem. Of course, all of this assume a rich relative recently passed away and left you a ton of money (preferably in paper, though I’d rather have a ton of quarters than a ton of pennies). Standard 9600 baud v.everything (that’s my abbreviation for v.22, v.22bis, v.32, v.42, v.42bis, and MNP 1-5, though not v.32bis, which is just starting to show up in modems now) modems run about $500 on the low end. $500 is an excellent price for such a modem, since when talking to another v.everything modem, it can quadruple the speed to 38,400 baud (and yes, I do know the approximate difference between baud and bits-per-second, I prefer using baud since it’s easier to say even though the two aren’t exactly equivalent).

But if a man in a trench coat came up to you in a dark alley and said, "Hey. Mac. Wanna buy a 9600 baud modem, cheap? How about a measly $169?" What would you say? Considering that you’re talking to a man in trench coat in a dark alley, you probably wouldn’t enter into a detailed discussion about whether or not the modem supported v.42 bis. You’d probably say nervously, "Sure, sounds good," give him the money, and stick to the lighted alleys the rest of the way home.

When you arrive home and look at what you’ve got, it would probably be a CompuCom 9600 baud modem that does support MNP 5, but not v.32, v.32bis, v.42, or v.42bis. CompuCom is bucking the mega-compatible trend (that makes it pico-compatible, I guess), so its modem, the SpeedModem Champ, will only work at 2400 baud with most other modems, 4800 baud if the other modem supports MNP 5. However, CompuCom came up with its own proprietary protocol and error checking mechanisms, so if you’re talking to another SpeedModem Champ, you can hit the same 38,400 baud that the more expensive modems can do. Considering the fact that you can buy three SpeedModem Champ modems for the price of even the cheapest of the v.everything modems, it’s a gamble that just might work.

If you are interested in fast communications and know that everyone you will be talking to at 9600 baud will also be using a SpeedModem Champ, it sounds like a pretty good deal. And if the other people don’t have SpeedModem Champs, well, 2400 baud with MNP 5 isn’t too bad and $169 is less than I paid for my 2400 baud MNP 5 Practical Peripherals modem a year ago.

Oh, yeah, I should mention that you should never buy modems from guys in dark alleys, especially if they’re clothed in trench coats. The modem you just bought is an internal PC card and won’t even think about working with a Macintosh. CompuCom is working on an external version of the modem that will probably be slightly more expensive (external modems always are) and will work with the Mac. The nice person I spoke with on the phone assured me that the external version should be out late this summer, since she had a Mac Plus and wanted one.

CompuCom — 800/228-6648

Information from:
CompuCom representative

Related articles:
InfoWorld — 01-Apr-91, Vol. 13, #13, pg. 31

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