The MultiModemUSB from MultiTech Systems lets you add data and fax capabilities to your Windows-based computer system. It's a hardware/software package that provides an external modem unit, which connects to your computer via a USB cable, and a software bundle including Trio's DataFax/Voice 5.3, Quarterdeck's Procomm RapidRemote, Acrobat Reader 3.01, TuneUp.com's TuneUp, Microsoft Dial-Up Networking 1.2, Internet Explorer 4.01 and 3.02, NetRocker modem-doubling software discount, SyGate modem-sharing software discount, PointCast Software, Net2Phone, TeamWARE Embla 2.0 E-mail, Calypso E-Mail, Microsoft NetMeeting 2.1, Pronto E-Mail, Prodigy Internet service and McAfee VirusScan.
Thanks to USB technology, installing the MultiModemUSB is very easy. It's as simple as plugging one end of the provided USB cable into the modem, plugging the other end into your computer, and loading the device driver floppy disk when Windows asks for it. As a matter of fact, because the modem uses USB, you don't even have to reboot your computer, and you don't have to worry about available IRQs. MultiModemUSB will work with any version of Windows that supports USB. Windows 98 users are easily covered. If you're still running Windows 95 though, you have to be sure it has USB support. I tested the product under Windows 98, and I didn't have any trouble at all getting everything set up.
The MultiModemUSB provides integrated data and fax features. Up to 56K data speeds are supported and the product is compatible with the following data modem standards: V.34, V.FC, V.32bis, V.32, V.23, V.22bis, V.22A/B, V.21, Bell 212A and 103, V.42 LAPM and MNP2-4 error correction, and V.42bis and MNP5 data compression. Class 1 and Class 2 fax commands are supported along with fax speeds up to 14000 bps for both send and receive. The only thing missing really, is voice support. For the price, it would be nice if the product included answering machine-like capabilities with multiple mailboxes and pager notification of new calls and faxes.
You can upgrade the MultiModemUSB by simply downloading a new software update over the Internet. So, when new data or fax standards become available, you won't have to shell out more money for a hardware upgrade. Another nice convenience is the fact that you don't need to power down your computer if you need to unplug the modem for some reason. And you don't need to open up your computer to fool with dip switches in case you need to make any changes to the modem settings. It's all done through software. The USB connection also provides faster communication between your computer and the modem than the usual serial port. Although this doesn't mean you'll have faster than normal 56K connections to the Internet.
A nice selection of software is provided with the MultiModemUSB, although Microsoft Internet Explorer is already available as a free download over the Internet. Actually, all of the included Microsoft software is available for free download. Another slight disappointment is that the TeamWARE Embla 2.0 E-mail is unregistered, and the McAfee VirusScan is only good for 90 days. It would be nicer if the full versions were included. Quarterdeck's Procomm RapidRemote and Net2Phone are nice additions though. The best part of the software bundle is Trio's DataFax/Voice 5.3. It's full-featured data/fax software that lets you easily send, receive, and monitor your communications.
During my tests I found that the MultiModemUSB performed very nicely. It maintained an average connection speed of about 44Kbps. This is very good for a 56K modem product. Even though the software bundle could be improved a bit, and voice capabilities would be a welcome addition, the MultiModemUSB is a wonderful product. With the added convenience of a USB connection, it's very easy to install. The modem is small enough to use as a portable laptop add-on too because it doesn't require an external power supply. I feel comfortable in saying that the MultiModemUSB provides all the features you might want for your data and faxing needs.