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Dual Modem Review: Aztech & Prolink
review by david, 23 May 2001


Internet access is something that nearly everyone has access to in this day and age, whether from home, from work, or from cybercafes etc. People get connected through a variety of technologies and access methods. In western countries, broadband access is available to practically everyone, whereas in eastern countries, most everybody is getting their online fix through dial-up connections. In Malaysia especially, broadband access isn't quite the norm yet, although there are new services involving broadband and ISDN which are only available to the public at particular residential areas for a premium. A majority of the high-speed connections enjoyed by Malaysians come from University and corporate connections, where leased lines are utilized. As of yet, I would guess that more than 90% of Malaysian internet users go online through modems. Dial-up access is offered by ISPs such as TmNet, Jaring, TimeNet, Maxis and also NTT, with rates ranging from 1.5 sen per minute to as much as 2.5 sen per minute. When I had to temporarily move out of my campus accomodations due to the obligatory 1 semester-long internship, I had to resort to dial-up access to get online. All that 4Mbps bandwidth I was used to in the University was replaced by a 56k modem. Ugh.

For this article I will cover two 56K modems, one internal, and the other external. The internal 56K modem is the Prolink 1456PCI Internal PCI Fax Modem, whereas the external model is the Aztech EM6800-U External 56K Modem. Note the Prolink modem is NOT made by Prolink, but made by Pora Corp. Prolink is the brand name for the modem.

Basically there are 2 types of modems for dial-up access to the internet, internal modems, and external modems. As the name implies, internal modems reside inside your computer, either as a PCI or ISA part. You might ask about AMR modems. Personally, I think AMR was another industry standard OEMs tried to introduce to save costs, but failed due to lack of support and acceptance by consumers. Most of the newer motherboards nowadays don't have an AMR slot. External modems are either of the serial part, or the older parallel port modems. Internal modems are also more commonly known as winmodems. Winmodems do not have a microprocessor on the modem, and relies on the CPU to do all the necessary processing. This does not impact high end computers, but instead imposes a lower boundary on what computers may use winmodems. The mimimum requirement to be able to run winmodems is to have a P133 or equivalent processor, thus slower computers will experience a significant drain in CPU cycles if a winmodem is installed. Winmodems also only work with windows, although drivers for usage in Linux are available. This dependency on drivers also means that how the drivers are implemented affect the performance of the winmodems. Most modems available nowadays should support the V.90 standard. Some modems offer future support for the V.92 standard, where it basically provides for a higher upload rate, increased to 48Kbps, from 33.6Kbps. The standard also provides for faster connect speeds as well as the modem-on-hold feature, in conjunction with call waiting.

The Hardware

Prolink 1456PCI Internal PCI Fax Modem specifications

  • MODEM PROTOCOL : V.90/ V.34+/V.34/V.32bis/V.32 /V.22bis/V.23/V.21 Bell 212A/103
  • FAX PROTOCOL : ITU-T V.17/V.29/V.27ter T.30/T.4
  • FACSIMILE SUPPORT : Group III Send/Receive
  • LINE DATA RATE : 56000/ 33600/ 28800/ 26400/ 24000/ 21600/ 19200/ 16800/ 14400/ 12000/ 9600/ 4800/ 2400/ 1200/ 300 bps
  • DTE SPEED : 134400/ 115200/ 57600/ 38400/ 28800/ 19200/ 14400/ 9600/ 4800/ 2400/ 1200/ 300 bps
  • SPEED DETECTION : Automatic speed detection and switching
  • FALLBACK : Automatic fallback from :56000 to 33600 to 28800 to 26400 to 24000 to 21600 to 19200 to 16800 to 14400 to 12000 to 9600 to 4800 to 2400 bps under adverse line conditions
  • FLOW CONTROL Software : XON/XOFF , Hardware : RTS/CTS

Aztech EM6800-U External 56K Modem specifications

  • KEY FEATURES , 56 Kbps data/fax/voice/speakerphone OSI/Hardware modem, v.90 + x2 Internet connectivity, DTE rate of up to 230,400 bps
  • TELEPHONY FEATURES Full duplex speakerphone with acoustic and line echo cancellation, Telephone Answering Machine, Auto-dialing and Auto-Answer, Automatic detection between data/fax/voice calls, Caller-ID, Line quality monitoring and re-train, Enhanced ADPCM/PCM voice operation with concurrent DTMF detection, Tone or pulse dialing, Enhanced voice AT-command set
  • DATA MODE FEATURES 56 Kbps Internet connectivity via v.90 or X2 standard, DTE rate of up to 230.400 bps (with compression), DTE rate of up to 57,600 bps (without compression)
  • DATA MODEM STANDARD V.90 or X2 : 56 Kbps, V.34bis : 33.6 Kbps, V.34 : 28.8 Kbps, V.32bis : 14.4 Kbps, V.32, V.23, V.22bis, V.22, V.21, Bell 212A, Bell 103
  • FAX MODULATIONS V.17 : 14.4 Kbps, V.28 : 9,600 bps, V.27ter : 4,800 bps, V.21 : 300 bps, 1.8 FAX CONTROL/ PROTOCOL, Class 1, V.21 Channel 2, Group 3 fax mode
  • VIDEO CONFERENCING ITU's V.80 Video-ready modem interface

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