Hardware Review: Zoom Telephonics 56K PCMCIA FaxModem

By Jayne A. Hitchcock
as it appeared in the May/June 1999 issue of Link-UP

When I purchased my AST notebook last year, it came with a 24.4K modem, which I thought was fairly fast. Six months later, I purchased Zoom's 33.6K modem and was delighted at the ease of installation and the speed. Now that 56K has almost become a standard modem speed, I felt it was time to look at upgrading to a 56K modem. Because I was happy with Zoom's 33.6K modem, I called them and they promptly sent me their latest notebook modem: Zoom/PC Card 56K DualMode Faxmodem with V.90 ITU standard and K56flex (model 2975). Whew!

Also included were CD-Rom's with the usual free Internet access tryouts of AOL, Compuserve and Earthlink, plus PaintShopPro SE, QuickLink II Fax/data software, Exterminator Antivirus, Howdy (to send multimedia e-mail postcards), Web Cannon (a web site publishing program) and iVisit (allows you to communicate face-to-face through video, audio and text messages over the Internet). That was a lot more than what came with the 33.6K modem, so I was impressed.

The manual for the 56K card was also on the CD, but in .pdf format. The good news is that the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, 3.0.2, is included; the bad news is that if you're like me and like a printed manual, expect your printer to spit out 40 pages before it's done. However, the manual is easy to understand and has illustrations as you go through installing the modem and setting it up.

The one thing the instructions do not tell you is that you should remove your previous modem from the Control Panel MODEMS selection first. I didn't do this and had a hard time configuring the new modem. I finally realized what was going on, physically removed the new modem, removed both entries for my old 33.6K and the new 56K, inserted the new modem again, restarted my computer and the "New Hardware Found" Windows 98 Wizard appeared. It was a cinch from there.

Connecting to Compuserve (one of the ISPs I use) was just as easy, and I connected at 49.3K - not bad when my previous connect rate with the old modem was 28.8K at the highest. I found my email downloaded much faster and it easier to navigate Compuserve's Main Menu and Netscape Navigator (my preferred browser).

If you don't care about the "free" programs that come with it, the Zoom PC Card 56K DualMode FaxModem is worth it's $139 price tag (I did find it on several shopping web sites for under $100; comparable modems run over $140). If you do care about what programs come with a product, you may want to get another modem.

Related web sites:
Zoom 56K PCMCIA Faxmodem (model 2975)

The 56K Web Site (if you're not sure you want to upgrade or not)S

The Official K56flex Web Site

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at jahitchcock.com.

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