Multi-Multi-Tech MultiModem ZPX Plug-in card Fax / modem review: Multi-Multi-Tech MultiModem ZPX Plug-in card Fax / modem

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MSRP: $119.00
2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Nice collection of software, ample telephony features.

The Bad Big price, bad performance.

The Bottom Line With a needlessly high price, skip the ZPX unless future V.90 enhancements bring up its performance.

5.0 Overall

At $150, the Multi-Tech MultiModemZPX is costly for an internal. While it offers some additional features over its external counterpart, performance is sadly lacking. With good clean lines, the MultiModem managed an acceptable 42.6 kbps for V.90 calls. But when challenged with noise and distortion, it fell apart. Even with some relatively benign impairments, the modem couldn't stay above 35 kbps. At $150, the Multi-Tech MultiModemZPX is costly for an internal. While it offers some additional features over its external counterpart, performance is sadly lacking. With good clean lines, the MultiModem managed an acceptable 42.6 kbps for V.90 calls. But when challenged with noise and distortion, it fell apart. Even with some relatively benign impairments, the modem couldn't stay above 35 kbps.

As the only product in our roundup to use Lucent Technologies' chipset, we were hoping for better from the MultiModemZPX. But despite the fact that V.90 is a standard protocol, there is still some variation in how it gets implemented, and performance can fluctuate, depending upon the type of central site equipment used in making the connection. Thus, the Multi-Tech may perform better with Livingston units than it did with CNET Labs' test equipment.

Analog V.34 connections told an entirely different story. Here, the ZPX behaved admirably by delivering 30.6 kbps over good line conditions while remaining relatively untroubled by bad ones. With compression enabled, the MultiModem transferred text-based files at a speedy 93 kbps.

While the MultiModemZPX isn't the speediest of modems, it sports a couple of nice features. If you have a sound card, speakers, and a microphone, you can use your modem as a hands-free full-duplex speakerphone and Internet phone. You can also set the ZPX for voice messaging and fax on demand using the Trio Communication software, which is provided on a CD-ROM. Multi-Tech also provides an extensive number of other Internet utilities, games, and free online service trials.

To make installation easy, the MultiModem uses dip switches rather than jumpers to manually set the IRQ and COM port settings. But its factory default settings are for plug and play, which means that Windows 95 users need only insert the card into a free ISA slot and provide the driver diskette when prompted. Multi-Tech's comprehensive manual also leads you through the setup and operation of the speakerphone capabilities. And a special guide is included to help you perform flash ROM upgrades.

The MultiModemZPX has some nice features and bundled extras, but you can skip it until future V.90 enhancements bring up its performance.

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