Megahertz T396FM. (facsimile modem) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by David English
A decent modem should do three things: run at 9600 bps, support V.42bis data compression, and send and receive faxes. A year ago, such a modem would've cost you more than $1,000. Today, you can expect to spend much less.
If you need this kind of modem for your laptop computer, take a look at Megahertz's new line of internal laptop fax/modems. These include the AR196FM (for the AST Premium Exec 386SX/ 20, 386SX/25, and 386SX/ 25C), the C596FM (for the Compaq Portable 486c and LTE 386s/20, Lite/20, and Lite/25), the T396FM (for the Toshiba T1000, T1200, T1600, T2000, T3100, T3200, T4400, and T6400 series), and the Z396FM (for the SlimsPort, Zenith MinisPort, and MastersPort 386SL). Each is $569, except for the Toshiba and Zenith models, which are $599.
You can also buy the same circuitry in a small external unit about the size of a deck of cards. It's called the P296FMV pocket fax/modem ($599); it plugs into your serial port and can run on either AC power or two AA batteries. With batteries, it weighs only 6.8 ounces.
I tried out the T396FM internal fax/modem with a Toshiba T6400 laptop, and it worked just fine. When communicating with a system that supports both V.32 protocol (this allows you to transmit at 9600 bps) and V.42bis (this gives you a 4 : 1 rate of data compression), you can send and receive data at an effective rate of 38,400 bps. I also tested the unit with my usual fax software, WinFAX Pro, and it worked again without a hitch.
Megahertz thoughtfully includes two batch files that let you quickly switch back and forth from V.42bis to a stripped-down 9600-bps mode without any error correction or data compression. (You can use your telecommunications program to automatically send commands that do the same thing.)
The company also includes a DOS-based modem program from MagicSoft, called MTEZ, that supports the XMODEM an YMODEM protocols. You can also use MTEZ to send and receive faxes. In addition, you get a coupon that you can send in for an unnamed Windows-based fax software package.
When I first tried to use the T396FM with Crosstalk for Windows, I wasn't sure which modem to choose. Because the modem is new, it wasn't listed on my older version of Crosstalk. Fortunately, Megahertz provides tollfree technical support, and a technician walked me through the initialization string for Crosstalk's custom-modem setup.
If you have an AST, Compaq, Toshiba, or Zenith laptop, this is currently the best deal in town for a fax/ modem (9600-bps fax and modem) with V.42bis. If you're looking for a small external fax/modem with the same capabilities, you won't go wrong with the pocket model, either. Top quality, excellent price, toll-free support, and a five-year unlimited warranty--who could ask for anything more?
MEGAHERTZ 4505 S. Wasatch Blvd. Salt Lake City, UT 84124 (800) LAP-TOPS (801) 272-6000
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