56K USB Modem Review

Quite a few people were surprised when Apple revealed that the new MacBook Air had built-in wireless networking but no Ethernet connector. After all, a wireless-only laptop is fine if you’re multi-millionaire Steve Jobs and you can afford to sit in first-class airport lounges or posh hotels with all the latest technology at your beck and call.

But, for the rest of us, there are often occasions when we find ourselves in places that don’t have wireless networks. In fact, there are times when even Ethernet and broadband internet access can be hard to find. There are, for instance, many hotels here in the UK and dotted around Europe that don’t have any internet access at all – unless, that is, you resort to that relic of 20th century technology, the ‘dial-up’ modem.

For those of you that don’t remember them, dial-up modems allow you to connect to the internet using a conventional phone line (rather than a phone line that has been upgraded to use the ADSL broadband technology). Admittedly, dial-up connections aren’t very fast – this modem provides a top speed of 56Kbps, compared to the 2Mbps that is now the bare minimum for most broadband internet services.

That sort of speed means you won’t be doing too much web browsing, or downloading music or video files. However, it will at least allow you to log on and check your emails when you need to.

That’s where the 56K USB Modem comes in. Designed for portability, it’s small enough to slip into a pocket, case or backpack when you’re travelling, and draws its power from a USB port on a Mac.

Installation is very straightforward, as you just load the software on the CD and then enter the details of your dial-up account into the Network panel of your Mac’s System Preferences (you’ll need to check that your internet service provider allows dial-up connections, as not everyone does these days).

OUR VERDICT

Jokes about Antiques Roadshow aside, the 56K USB Modem could turn out to be very useful for business users or other people that spend a lot of time checking in and out of hotels. It could even turn out to be a lifesaver if you need to check your email and find yourself holed up somewhere that doesn’t have broadband internet access.

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