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December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews HW: Flat Connections NovaLAN/Modem 288

Communications Handler Shines

By James Alan Miller

Whether you're at your desk, across town or thousands of miles from the office, the NovaLAN/Modem 288 multifunction PC Card from Flat Connections will serve as a bridge between you and the information you need.

This Type II card combines a fully functional V.34 fax modem with a 10BaseT- and 10Base2-compatible Ethernet adapter (a 10Base2 coupler costs an extra $40). Novalink's own multimedia messaging software, NovaMail, is also included in the package. The NovaLAN is voice-enabled for messaging purposes, but you'll need a special attachment to accommodate most major cellular phones. Use the modem and Ethernet connections simultaneously, and at only $399, the NovaLAN is an excellent value.

Installing a multifunction card can be a frustrating experience. Fortunately, set up and configuration of the NovaLAN went smoothly. I found all the documentation clear, concise and nicely organized. The thorough main manual has five sections along with an equal number of appendixes. In the Introduction, you get an overview of the NovaLAN, customer service information and a feature list, as well as data on system requirements. Next, the hardware section takes you through the steps necessary for inserting and removing the adapter, in addition to connecting to the LAN, the modem, and a cellular phone, among other things. In the software installation section, you receive instructions on installing software for Windows 3.x and Windows 95.

Windows 95 recognized the card as soon as I placed it in the slot, and I was quickly prompted to install the software. To do that, you need one diskette, labeled Driver Installation. After you configure your network settings, you're home free.

Performance-wise, you'll have no complaints, either. The modem really does its job well. I logged onto America Online and CompuServe without a problem. I also dialed into my desktop and sent e-mail without any trouble. The Ethernet connection made logging my notebook onto the network a breeze-as easy as if I were doing it from my desktop.

To test the NovaLAN's capabilities, I timed how long it took to copy a 32MB file from the network to my desktop and notebook. Impressively, data transferred a little faster on the notebook than on the desktop.

NovaMail provides a variety of convenient centralized faxing, paging, e-mail and voice-mail services to help you get the most out of the product. With its graphical interface, you click on a button for the services you want to access. Activating Answer Mode lets your laptop accept voice messages and faxes. With voice messaging, you can retrieve messages remotely and even record personal greetings for your VIPs (the software lets you designate up to six correspondents as such). Text-to-speech software lets you record messages if you don't have a microphone.

The NovaLAN/Modem 288's ease of installation and use, along with good performance and a reasonable price, make it an excellent buy.

-- Info File --
Flat Connections NovaLAN/Modem 288
Pros: Installation; performance
Cons: 10Base2 coupler and cellular attachment cost extra
Platforms: 3X, 95
Flat Connections
800-510-FLAT, 510-249-9777
WinMag Box Score: 4

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