Amquest Hypermodem 28800 Model AM2814I-HY

Get Online In Minutes

The Amquest Hypermodem 28800 eases online access. The setup instructions are easy to follow and hard to lose, since they're both in the user manual and on the box. The modem's default COM4 and IRQ3 settings avoid conflicts, so you can get to America Online within minutes. AOL logged us in at 38.4Kbps, and the Rockwell V.Fast Class chipset and V.42bis compression made a home 386 seem faster browsing than a Pentium/28.8Kbps office combo.

Cheyenne Software's 16-bit BitWare fax/data software was simpler to set up than most fax programs. It required little configuration tweaking, and the first send and receive faxes actually went through-a minor miracle for these types of programs. BitWare uses a menu bar of 10 icon buttons to launch the phone-dialing and faxing applets. Although the icons are intuitive, moving the cursor over them provides a text description at the bottom of the bar. All the applets are simple to use and include extensive help. BitWare also includes macros that integrate the Send Fax option into the three leading word processing programs and Microsoft Excel.

Hypermodem's software bundle embraces most of the online world-America Online, CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy and the Imagination entertainment service diskettes or coupons. With a lifetime warranty and reasonable price, the Amquest Hypermodem makes moving to the information age a smooth voyage.

Amquest Hypermodem 28800 Model AM2814I-HY
Price: $139
Pros: Good performance; easy-to-use fax software
Cons: No 32-bit software
Platforms: Windows 3.x, 95
Amquest Corp.
800-577-3335, 717-569-8030
WinMag Box Score 4.5

Ositech Jack of Diamonds

Connectivity Combo Wins Hands Down

The Jack of Diamonds Ethernet/28.8 modem combo card delivers a winning hand of connectivity-via its 28.8Kb-per-second fax modem, or over its 10BaseT Ethernet connector. Thanks to Windows 95 driver support, it installs in seconds with no fuss. The power management is also well thought out: The modem can be asleep while the Ethernet portion is in full swing and vice versa.

In many tests under Win95, we never once had a connection go awry or perform at a phone-line speed less than 26.4Kbps. But the modem's story doesn't end with great performance. The fax modem section supports MNP10EC for cellular communications, and there's Smart Cellular support, which automatically sets the initialization string for land-line or cellular connections.

The Jack of Diamonds also has accessories for the card's LAN adapter. One accessory, called the Deuce, acts like a mini-hub that's powered by your portable PC. It connects your portable to the network between your desktop PC and the wall-mounted LAN connector, granting both the desktop and laptop simultaneous network access.

Using a special cable that's included, you could connect the portable PC to two PCs to form a mini-network. With multiple Deuces, you could even create a small laptop network.

Ositech Jack of Diamonds
Price: $509
Pros: True PnP; power management; reliability
Cons: Error message on boot
Platforms: Windows 3.x, 95, NT
Ositech Communications
800-563-2386, 519-836-8063
WinMag Box Score 5.0

U.S. Robotics Sportster Voice 28.8 Faxmodem

Enhanced 28.8 Zings at 33.6

The Sportster Voice 28.8 external modem is enhanced to boost V.34 transmission speed to 33.6Kbps. It supports key standards for error control (V.42/MNP2-4) and data compression (V.42bis and MNP5 for throughput up to 115.2Kbps and V.32bis at 14.4Kbps).

We installed the modem in minutes under Windows 95. In all tests, it connected-and stayed connected-to various services without a hitch.

QuickLink Message Center software is included for fax and telephony chores, such as voice mail. You can connect a telephone handset to the Sportster to record your outgoing messages. For message playback, plug speakers into the modem, connect it to your sound card or use your phone's handset. With speakers attached, the modem can function as a full-duplex speakerphone. The QuickLink software and the modem both support Caller ID. QuickLink's fax features are effortless to use, whether you're faxing immediately or queuing faxes for later delivery.

U.S. Robotics tosses in a useful CD-ROM with demos and trial versions of a variety of programs, including Internet applications, as well as software for America Online and CompuServe. A handy book that describes browsing the Web is also included. U.S. Robotics backs the Sportster Voice 28.8 modem with a five-year limited warranty.

U.S. Robotics Sportster Voice 28.8 Faxmodem
with Personal Voice Mail
Price: Internal, $219; external, $249
Pros: Reliability; performance; software
Cons: None
Platforms: Windows 3.x, 95
U.S. Robotics
800-DIALUSR, 847-676-7010
WinMag Box Score 5.0

Hayes Office Communications Manager

This Modem Is Truly Connected

The Hayes Office Communications Manager features a Plug-and-Play Accura 28.8Kbps modem capable of 115.200Kbps that handles faxes at 14.4Kbps. It also supports V.42, MNP2-4 error control, V.42bis and MNP5 data compression and, naturally, the Hayes standard AT command set. We couldn't find a program that did not work with this Hayes modem.

The modem includes VoiceView TalkShop, which allows you to talk and receive data during the same call. The modem detects and produces distinctive rings for incoming voice, fax and data calls. You also get Caller ID options.

With the bundled Smartcom Message Center you can set up a multiple-mailbox, password-secured voice-mail system using the prerecorded voice files for greetings, or you can create your own. A Labtec microphone lets you take advantage of full-duplex speakerphone capabilities and, if you're out of the office, pager notification can signal that messages are waiting. Smartcom also handles faxing, fax-on-demand and more.

You also get Quarterdeck's InternetSuite 2.0 (including a browser, news and mail reader, and Internet Relay chat client), WebTalk (for using the Web for long-distance calls) and an online user's reference. And there is the usual assortment of sign-up disks for online services.

The user guide explains how to install the modem, but it's almost superfluous. Our Win95 system properly recognized the modem, prompted for the driver and installed everything correctly. Over several weeks of testing, the Accura 288 performed reliably for both data and voice operations.

Hayes Office Communications Manager
Price: $189
Pros: Installation; ease of use; functionality
Cons: None
Platforms: Windows 3.x, 95
Hayes Microcomputer Products
800-429-3739, 770-441-1617
WinMag Box Score 5.0