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WinLab Reviews
ActionTec DataLink 33.6 and ComNet 33.6
Hit the Road with Two PCMCIA Modems

-- by Joel T. Patz

If you're on the road and want speed and dependability, two PC Card modems from ActionTec should interest you. The DataLink 33.6 (for data communication) and ComNet 33.6 (for data and network connectivity) are hot-swappable Type II cards that meet the PCMCIA 2.01 standard. Both offer Plug-and-Play ease of installation and solid performance. Each draws a low 0.81 watt when using the modem; the ComNet uses 0.8W in 10BaseT hookups.

Both ActionTec modems come with a copy of Cheyenne Software's BitWare for handling data communication and fax chores, plus the usual assortment of online disks and magazine offers. While the bundled software isn't always the most up-to-date (one included AOL version 2.5 and a version of CompuServe's WinCIM that was upgraded at least a year ago), the drivers are current and worked well. I installed both cards on an AST Ascentia laptop, and each was properly recognized. The ComNet card's setup routine let me install the network features and the modem drivers before asking if I wanted to reboot. Quite often, dual-featured cards suggest you boot after each feature is installed.

The ActionTec ComNet 33.6 is an upgrade to the ComNet 28.8. It combines a 33.6 fax modem card with an Ethernet adapter, so everything you need is on a single card. It can accommodate two attachments: one for a cable with a telephone extension connector and another for a short cable with BNC and 10BaseT adapters in a junction box at the end. Two lights are on the network junction box; one stays lit when a network connection is established, while the other flashes to indicate network activity. I tested the card on a Windows 95 10BaseT network and got the network to recognize my portable PC in less than 10 minutes. A DOS-based program to install drivers for NetWare, Windows for Workgroups and NDIS is also supplied in the package but was not tested.

ActionTec backs the PC Cards with 5-year limited warranties and free (though not toll-free) technical support.

W Info File

ActionTec DataLink 33.6
Price: $239
Pros: Easy install; solid performance
Cons: No toll-free tech support
ActionTec Electronics
800-797-7001, 408-739-7000
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

W Info File

ActionTec ComNet 33.6
Price: $479
Pros: Installation and setup
Cons: No toll-free tech support
ActionTec Electronics
800-797-7001, 408-739-7000
WinMag Box Score:4.0

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.

(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 149.)