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PC card as LAN hookup, modem

3Com announces two notebook PC cards that integrate LAN connectivity and 56-kbps modem capacity in one device.

3Com today announced two notebook PC cards that integrate LAN connectivity and 56-kbps modem capacity in one device.

The first card provides for a 10 megabit-per-second (mbps) LAN connection, the second is a 10/100 card, which supports connection speeds up to 100 mbps. Both cards come with a 3Com modem with x2 technology, along with the promise of a free upgrade to the 56-kpbs standard once it is released by the International Telecommunications Union.

3Com is touting the dual-purpose cards, which require only one PC Card slot instead of two, as an economical way for notebook users to connect with the Internet and with corporate intranets. The biggest advantage of the combined modem and LAN connection is that users free up a PC Card slot in their notebooks for other peripheral devices.

The modems feature 3Com's Xjack connector, which allows connection with standard telephone cords. The 10/100 LAN connection automatically detects the network speed to select the optimal connection speed.

"I see it as an incremental evolution of these combination cards," said Internatitonal Data Corporation analyst Justin Smith. "Cards like this are already available, but with slower connectivity. The vendors ratchet up the functionality every few months."

Smith said that in some instances, the combination card might cost less than two separate cards, but that in most cases it was more a matter of convenience. "People who do a lot of traveling find that it's nice to have as few cards as possible," he said.

3Com expects to ship the cards this month. The 10-mbps LAN will begin at $329, while the 10/100 LAN will cost $419.