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MR MODEM PCMCIA CARD

There's something slightly unnerving about PCMCIA card modems. How come they're so small when ordinary PC modems are so big, and what goes on inside those sealed tin boxes? Single function fax/modem cards can be absolute swines to install at the best of times, so our alarm bells started ringing when confronted with a new multi-function card that purports to work with GSM phones as well.

 

'GSM Ready' is the main claim to fame of the Mr Modem 56k fax/modem card, that and the fact that the card on its own is quite reasonably priced. It starts to go a bit pear-shaped when you add on the cost of the GSM kit, the one for the Nokia 6110 (and 5110, 5130, 6130 and 6150), which comprises a floppy disc and a connecting cable, is actually dearer than the card! Work that one out…

 

The PCMCIA kit includes the card a cable with BT adaptor, installation floppy and a copy of BitWare for Windows on CD-ROM (the CD also contains a number of utilities and demos). Installation is quick and simple. Our Tosh laptop immediately recognised the card and started the driver Wizard. Including the time taken for an obligatory Windows re-boot it was up and running inside five minutes. Reported connection and data transfer speeds matched an external 56k US Robotics modem virtually byte for byte.

 

Getting the card to work with a Nokia 6110 phone proved to be a little more challenging. The instructions that accompany the GSM driver disc and cable is incorrect on at least one aspect of the way Windows works and the software managed to wrongly configure the Comm port on our laptop (and yes, we did RTFM…). This took us a short while to sort out even though we've been there before and had fun and game with Windows and PCMCIA cards on numerous occasions. We suspect novices experiencing similar problems would find it very hard going and there's no troubleshooting guide or any mention of a manufacturer's helpline or a website.

 

Operationally the card gets clean bill of health and a side by side test with our reference GSM modem card on a Nokia 2110 showed a very slight speed advantage to Mr Modem. Power consumption was also slightly lower judging by how hot it got.

 

As multi-function land-line/GSM cards go this one stacks up well in terms of performance. GSM installation can be tricky, you might be lucky but past experience with these things suggests that they rarely go smoothly, so make sure you know what you are doing, or have a knowledgeable friend on hand!  

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £75 (Nokia GSM kit £75)

Features            PCMCIA 56k fax/modem card with GSM compatibility

To fit                 Laptop PCs with Type 2 PCMCIA  slots, Selected Nokia & Ericsson GSM phones

Contact            Microcomputer Research, 0181-810 9977

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            90%

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1999 2611

 


 

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