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TidBITS#163/Modems

In this special issue, we present our general modem discussion (at least enough so you can judge among modems that have impressive sounding, but misleading, specs) and review two popular v.everything modems, the Practical Peripherals PM14400FXSA and the Supra’s SupraFAXModem v.32bis. They’re both inexpensive, capable, and reliable (although that’s not to say that other modems may not be equally as good).

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Fast Modems Rule

In the last year we've seen the rise of several varieties of fast modems, which I jokingly call "v.everything" modems because they seemingly support every standard protocol in the telecommunications world, including such arcana as v.22bis, v.42bis, v.32, and v.32bis, none of which I'm going to explain here

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Modem Speed

Let's face it, you buy these modems for their speed. You want screamingly fast data transfers that leaves wisps of smoke coming out of your serial ports and burnt rubber on your phone lines

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Actual Connections

That said, I tried these modems with a bunch of others that I normally work with. On the whole, both modems worked well, although I experienced more quirks than I would have liked, and I'm now fluent in the Hayes command set

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Modem Software

Software on the other end can play a role too. Connecting to CompuServe, which supports v.32, works fine, but you only enjoy a speed increase in uploading and downloading files

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Extra Features

As time passes, modem companies become more aware of ways to ease telecommunication. Flashing lights have long been the modem's only interface to the outside world, but both the Supra and the PPI have gone beyond that, especially the PPI

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Support

Modems are perhaps the most-trouble free pieces of common computer peripheral. I say that based on their incredibly long warranties, five years for the Supra and a lifetime warranty for the PPI

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Fax Galore

Well, not really. I include fax capabilities in my "v.everything" tagline, and both of these modems have it, and both come with appropriate fax software

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FaxMania

T/Maker sent me a copy of ClickArt for Faxes a while back, before I had a working fax modem (and they included candy with the review copy, an excellent policy that I recommend to the rest of the industry)

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Conclusions

If you want a new modem and you have an excuse to buy a fast one, I recommend either of these units. If you only connect at 2,400 bps, you can probably go for a cheaper 2,400 bps data/9,600 bps fax modem