I've seen alot of talk latly about winmodems and such. Like anyone else who has used them before I hate them and curse them forever. Im writing this post to see if anyone wants to share thire opinion as to why there are SO many winmodems out there.
Obviously, the first answer someone would come up with is the fact that they are much cheaper to produce.. one thing that gets to me is winmodems are just as expensive as hardware modems were 2 years ago. Now "hardware modems" are sold as special, super modems, and cost major $. usr ahem 3com has a "gamers" modem which is simply a hardware 56k modem.. I saw it in the store for $89! thats more than some of the first 56k modems that came out (which were mostly all hardware) The 56k modem I use is a generic v90 hardware modem. it cost $50, which in my opinion is still way too much. At one time I KNOW that 56k HARDWARE modems did not cost that much. It seems rather apparent to me that the price of hardware modems has gone UP rather than down in the last few years.
This trasition to winmodems really doesnt make sence for a number of reasons:
Buying a first/replacement modem seems like it would be a very common upgrade, probably one of the few that novices actaully feel up to doing by them selves. isnt it ironic that winmodems are one of the pickyest, most stubborn, and biggest headache generators in the computer industry? Has anyone ever tried to install a winmodem under winNT 4.x? ha! good luck. (thats why i decided to write this, im pissed off to all hell at a winmodem and winNT ) Granted, if you know what you are doing, you should be able to get a winmodem to work. One thing that makes me so angry about winmodems is their lack of support. Seems to me that 95% of the time wile installing a winmodem SOMETHING has to be changed to get it to work.. something that isnt even mentioned in the included documentaion. End-users that buy a modem want to read the directions, follow them, and have the modem work fine. thats they way it should be!
I guess the bottom line im trying to get to is that a majority of people want to buy something, plug it im and have it WORK. This flooding of winmodems into the market totally goes against this line of thought.
I dont understand why the demand for winmodems is more than the demand for hardware modems.
Plug and play. P&P = Plug and PRAY. plug and pray only works 1/2 the time in my experence. Remeber the good ol' days when everything had jumpers? Due to so many industry standards, computers still use irqs, base I/O ports etc. I guess plug and play is just trying to make all that easy for people. well it doesnt, and untill the standard completly changes (no more irq's etc.) I dont see any reason not to produce a jumper-configuarble device.
Notes on winmodems: (most people prolly know all this but some might not)
winmodems can be PCI OR ISA. Just because you get an isa modem doesnt mean thats its not a winmodem. HOWEVER, most modems that ARE hardware modems are ISA.
A quick way to get an idea if the modem is hardware or software (win or not) is to look at the system requirements. If the modem requires win9x and a pentium processor, then its a winmodem. This is because the modem enumerator (software that does what the onboard hardware would normally do) takes up system resourses, and a fair ammount of them too, considering its just a damn modem. Another way to get a good idea is to look at the actual modem. The pcb of a hardware modem is generally very busy and full with chips n other computer stuff... wile a winmodem card is rather simple looking and is sometimes actually only 1/2 a card
External modems: are still majorly hardwaremodems, but cost more and take up more space.
For anyone buying a new modem: If you have an open ISA slot, I suggest getting an internal, GENERIC 56k, v90 HARDWARE modem. Believe it or not, a lot of maufactures (even the generic ones) use the same parts that usr/3com use. If you dont have an ISA slot youll have to dig deep to find a PCI hardware modem or get an external. The genericest of all hardware modems would still be able to out preform the most expensive of winmodems. (especially if you cant get the winmodem to work!)
There is but one common probem when setting up a hardware modem, that is easily fixed. Sometimes a computer is set up to use both comm1 and comm2 as onboard external ports, and a modem cant be detected because the comm ports are allready claimed by the bios. This can be corrected by going into the system BIOS, and finding the comm port settings (usually under something called intergrated peripherals) Then, disable which ever comm port the modem is set to use (default is comm2) and it should detect fine (granted that there are no irq/IO conflicts)
hardmare modems are wonderful because they dont really need any kind of drivers at all. usually, you can set them up with petty much any standard or generic modem driver, and the hardware takes over when making the right connection (v90, k56flex, vXbis all that compression junk) so even if its not configured perfectly you should still get maximum performance out of a hardware modem. Winmodems however, wont give you the time of day unless you have the EXACT drivers for them setup EXACTLY as they need to be.
In my new systems I installed better usr modems, but in my obsolete system upstairs, I put a usr winmodem in. I had a devil of a time installing it until I realized that the software that came with it did not have the correct .inf files on it for that modem! I went to the usr web site, downloaded the correct files and voila - it worked like a champ! I notified the company about it, but I can't help but wonder how many winmodems are out there without the correct .inf files that isn't included on the software provided!