by November 17, 2001 0 comments

An alternative to PCMCIA cards

BPL’s INSTANET 56K USB MODEM
Price: Rs 2,500
Meant for: Home, mobile users 
Features: USB connection
Contact: Electronic Research. Tel: 080-8472831/2/3 Fax: 080-8472244. 35/36, Bandapura Village, 17th Km, Old Madras Road, Bangalore 560049.
www.bplworld.com
E-mail: itsales@erlnt.com

Setting up BPL’s Instanet USB soft modem is easy; a red LED on the case shows that it’s connected. To test it we used an Athlon 1.1 GHz machine on a VIA 133KT chipset board and 128 MB RAM. There was no need to define additional settings and, on each attempt, it connected on the first try. We compared its performance to a GVC 56 K external serial modem. While the latter connected at almost the same connection speed within a time frame (44 to 46.6 kbps), this modem’s connect speeds varied from as low as 9.6 to 42.6 kbps on a 56 K link to our ISP. The transfer rates for the USB modem were about a kbps lower than the serial modem. The results were more or less the same at different times of the day. This may be different depending upon your phone line’s condition, bandwidth available at ISP and the websites. Also, while the USB modem was connected, there were breaks in sound output from our sound card when Winamp was playing.

The modem comes with BitWare v3.30.20 for Windows, IE 5.0, Acrobat Reader, MediaRing Talk 99, RealPlayer and QuickTime.

At Rs 2,500, this modem is more expensive than an equivalent serial modem, but definitely worth the mobility and ease of setup it offers. It doesn’t require additional power supply, making it a viable alternative to expensive PCMCIA modem 
cards for notebooks. Also, it is hot plug ‘n’ play, making it easier to swap between machines.

Ashish Sharma at PCQ Labs

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