Magazine article Library Administrator's Digest

How to Choose the Right Modem

Magazine article Library Administrator's Digest

How to Choose the Right Modem

Article excerpt

Some people will tell you modems are commodities, that except for the name, they're no more distinguishable than grapes. In some respects, they're right. The performance variations between various brands are small. The biggest differences are speed, software and whether the modem sits inside or outside your computer.

A modem lets your computer communicate with other computers via phone lines. It lets you send and receive electronic mail and faxes and get onto online services and the Internet.

Most new computers come equipped with modems, but if yours doesn't, or you want a faster one, you'll have to shop around.

Your first decision is internal vs. external. External modems are easy to plug in and have status lights that give you information about your modem's operation. On the downside, an external modem takes up space on your desk, requires more cords and costs $20 or $30 more than an internal modem. But unless you're technologically adept, you'll have to spend that much to get someone to install an internal modem.

If your external modem doesn't come with a serial cable, you'll have to buy one. Make sure it will fit into the communications port on the back of your computer.

Modem speeds define the maximum rate you can send and receive information. The standard is rapidly moving from 14,400 bits per second (also known as 14.4 kilobits per second) to 28,800 bits per second (28.8 kbps).

A 28.8 modem communicates twice as fast as a 14.4 modem, but only if the modems on both ends are 28.8. "If one side has 14. …

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