Multi-Multi-Tech MultiModem ZDX Proprietary Fax / modem review: Multi-Multi-Tech MultiModem ZDX Proprietary Fax / modem

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Takes up little desk space, ample software, comprehensive manual.

The Bad Fat price tag, lackluster performance.

The Bottom Line The ZDX offers nothing special for the price. There are plenty of better values elsewhere.

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Multi-Tech Systems was initially late to market with its 56k modems because it wanted to incorporate Lucent Technologies' chipset. So we were a bit surprised to see its $130 ZDX come in with Rockwell components. Nevertheless, speeds were below average, with a best-case raw transfer rate of 42.6 kbps. Digital impairments handling was a tad inferior, also. While the modem never dropped calls or failed to connect, it was often sluggish. With compression turned on, though, the MultiModem still reached an adequate 90 kbps. Multi-Tech Systems was initially late to market with its 56k modems because it wanted to incorporate Lucent Technologies' chipset. So we were a bit surprised to see its $130 ZDX come in with Rockwell components. Nevertheless, speeds were below average, with a best-case raw transfer rate of 42.6 kbps. Digital impairments handling was a tad inferior, also. While the modem never dropped calls or failed to connect, it was often sluggish. With compression turned on, though, the MultiModem still reached an adequate 90 kbps.

We were even less inspired by the ZDX's performance on modem-to-modem calls. Under clean lines, it managed only a mediocre 27.9 kbps. And when we injected noise and distortion, the MultiModem did its job, but often at a snail's pace. Like many other products in this roundup, the ZDX detects and switches over to the K56flex protocol automatically, so you can achieve up to 41.7-kbps throughput where the central site equipment has not yet been upgraded.

Despite its thoroughly unimpressive throughput, the MultiModem had some nice points. Its aesthetically pleasing package just about fits in the palm of your hand, and you'll always know what the modem's doing, thanks to the host of status LEDs, which even indicate whether you're connected at "56 kbps" rates or standard analog speeds. Trio's Communication Suite is included for sending and receiving faxes.

Installing the MultiModem was a snap: Windows 95 recognized it and prompted us for drivers included on a floppy disk. But if you do need the manual, Multi-Tech's comprehensive guide is one of the few with a complete AT command set reference and an index. You can also upgrade the MultiModem with the latest V.90 enhancements by downloading revisions free from Multi-Tech's Web site onto its flash ROM. For a small additional cost, Macintosh users can order a MacKit, which includes System 7-based drivers, data and fax software, and a Mac serial cable.

But overall, the ZDX offered nothing special for its $130 price tag. There are plenty of better values elsewhere.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
  • Package Type retail