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-- by James E. Powell
The most dramatic feature of Practical Peripherals' latest external 33.6 Kbps voice/ data/fax modem is its ability to sit on top of your monitor. Serious software problems, however, keep it off our WinList.
The front panel offers a built-in microphone and speaker at just the right level for a hands-free, full-duplex speakerphone. Power, phone, external-handset and nine-pin serial- cable connections, as well as external-speaker and microphone jacks, are on the back, where cables and wires may run across your monitor cooling vents.
The External 336 sends and receives faxes at up to 14.4Kbps and data as fast as 33.6Kbps. It supports V.34, LAP-M and MNP 2-4 error control, and V.42bis and MNP5 data compression.
The modem's telephony software supports voice mail, faxes, fax-on-demand, and Kermit, Xmodem, Ymodem and Zmodem data transmission. You'll need other software to access online services.
Unfortunately, and inexcusably, included software contained a serious bug: It couldn't switch between voice and fax reception. We had to download a fix. Our WinList's Hayes Office Communications Manager, by comparison, provided perfect jump-start operation.
Installation was Plug and Play, but the names of supported modems didn't match up precisely during setup procedures-a sloppy oversight.
Speaker and microphone quality was very good, as were data transmission speeds and connections to online service providers. Despite good performance, however, the External 336 needs bug-free software and a better setup program.