The new card, which allows connection to a cellular phone, uses US Robotics' x2 technology and integrates functions such as a speakerphone, caller ID, and a digital answering machine.
"PC Card" describes a category of credit-card-size circuit boards that plug into a notebook computer's PC Card slot. The most common PC cards are modems, Ethernet network cards, and portable CD-ROM drive interface cards.
The 3Com card supports connection speeds of up to 56K for standard dial-up use, the fastest connection speed available.
3Com is currently in the process of merging with USR, another major player in the modem market. USR's x2 technology is competing with Rockwell's K56flex protocol for control of the 56K standard.
The $289 card provides more telephony features than some other 56K cards currently on the market. However, it lacks Ethernet support, which is essential for users who also connect to their company's in-house network.
Combination modem/Ethernet cards from companies such as Xircom offer both 56K modem capabilities and Ethernet adapters in a single Ethernet card.
Features such as caller ID and the digital answering machine may prove attractive to users who have no need for Ethernet capabilities but are using a notebook as a desktop computer replacement in a small or home office.