Modems:

The Best - USR (US Robotics) - this company has essentially set the standard. Like it or not. Other Brands, such as Supra and Zoom are also very good. As for the "others," they are usually "compatible" with one of these three, with a few exceptions.
The key, now days, try for PNP (Plug-N-Play). Try to get current drivers, Windows95 drivers. If you get a modem from one of these three above companies, odds are that you won't have a problem getting updated drivers for future operating systems.
Types of connections: Standard Telephone Line, ISDN, Cable, T1, Satellite, and T3 from the slowest to the fastest.
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Standard Line: Speed, 33.6 is the basic standard. 28.8 is the slowest you will want to go; however, 14.4 will work well for basic e-mail. 56K is the fastest modem a person can purchase, although 53K is the fastest a person can go over a "regular" telephone line (FCC regulations). Nearly every local ISP (Internet Service Provider) has 33.6 baud connections available. Most of the "big" companies still only have 28.8 connections in the smaller towns; however, a 33.6 will automatically "step down" for compatibility sake. Cost: Telephone Line (from the phone company) and the connect charges. 33.6 and slower is usually $20 per month average for 24 hour a day, 7 days a week... add 0 to $15 per month for a 56K connection.
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ISDN requires a special modem, special telephone line, and special access number with your ISP. More and more ISP's are getting this connection capability. Cost: dependent on the area you live and/or want to connect in. You will also require a special telephone line.
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Cable Modem requires a special box which is usually connected to the existing Cable TV converter box. It is available only in the larger cities, with the bigger cable companies which have installed the necessary equipment. Cost: Dependent on the cable company... rumor has a $60 to $100 per month average, with no extra telephone line. The speed is a whole lot faster and better than even ISDN... if you are on the NET a lot, plan to use Internet Telephony it is well worth checking into.
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Satellite - not a lot of information here, it is too new. There is a "war" between this technology and the Cable modems. It will be interesting to see how things turn out. Normally it offers a 400KB per second download time. Rumor has it running in excess of 1 MB per minute, with a possible band width as high as 10 MB per minute.
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T1 - only large companies and ISP's can afford these. The cost is rumored to be between $500 and $2,500 per month, depending on the distance from the nearest digital switch and amount of usage.
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T3 - even bigger and more expensive than the T1 line.
One word of caution that we will give regards modems. When installing a modem you must specify the COM port that the modem will use, this is a serial port. We recommend setting the modem to COM 2 - IRQ 3, this is compatible with 90% of the communication software on the market today. You will need to TURN off (disable) Com 2 at the BIOS level if the I/O is installed directly on the motherboard. If on a card, you will probably need to jump the second port off.
As you can see, this may cause a conflict with one of the ports installed in the system. Most of the ports are able to be changed to a different address or completely disabled. The technical documentation associated with the I/O interface will explain how to change these settings.
If you aren't going to be installing a sound card, Com 3 - IRQ 5 is otherwise open and great for a modem. Only if there isn't going to be a sound card, which otherwise requires IRQ 5.
There are only a few reasons for using or having a modem:
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Internet Connectivity
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E-mail
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BBS connections
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Faxing - In coming and Out going
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Voice Mail
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Answering Machine
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Pager Forwarding
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Remote Access
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WAN (Wide Area Network)
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RAS (Remote Access Server) Account
Any of these reasons can make having a modem useful. A number of my "regular" customers have PC Anywhere32, a remote access program that works well under Windows95. Basically, as long as their computer starts and their modem starts, I can access their system as if I was sitting at their keyboard. It is slower than if I were really there, but makes fixing most user created problems fairly easy and quick.
 

 

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