Megahertz XJ1144. (PCMCIA fax/modem card) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by David English
Modems keep getting smaller, but none are as small as the PCMCIA modem cards that fit into many notebook, subnotebook, and palmtop computers--not to mention the new PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants). These days, almost every notebook computer comes with one or more PCMCIA slots, so buying a PCMCIA modem means you should be able to use it later if you switch to another notebook computer. (The PCMCIA standard isn't 100-percent solid, so ask about compatibility before you buy.)
Megahertz is currently the leader in PCMCIA modems. The reasons for the company's success are threefold: five-year warranties, toll-free support, and patented XJACK technology. Other PCMCIA modems make you use a special cable, which connects to the modem on one end and a standard phone cable on the other end. With the XJACK, you simply press the side of the card, and a sturdy phone jack connector pops out, allowing you to plug a phone cable directly into the modem. When finished, you press the XJACK back into the card, where it stays until it's needed again.
For this review I tested the XJ1144 fax/data modem, which includes an XJACK. (The CC3144, which does not include an XJACK, is available for $30 less.) It handles both data and fax transmissions at 14,400 bps (bits per second), supports V.42 and V.42bis for 57,600-bps data throughput, and works with notebook computers from AST, Dell, Sharp, Toshiba, and others. (Call 800-LAPTOPS, extension 6789, for an up-to-date list.) The unit ships with the DOS-based communications program WordPerfect Communications, the DOS-based fax program WordPerfect ExpressFax, and the Windows-based fax program Eclipse Fax SE (a full-featured, though slimmed-down, version of the powerful Eclipse Fax).
The XJ1144 worked flawlessly in my HP OmniBook 300, though to optimize the battery life, I took the modem out when I wasn't using it. The card draws 725 mW when operating, but that drops to 275 mW in standby mode and 77 mW in sleep mode--all of which are higher than with some competing PCMCIA fax/data modems.
Overall, I found the XJ1144 to be a well-built and reliable modem that should last for many years. Add the convenience of the XJACK and the outstanding five-year warranty, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a PCMCIA fax/data modem.