QuickComm Spirit II. (facsimile modems) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Ralph Roberts
No one writes letters anymore. Faxes and E-mail (electronic mail) have become the order of the day.
QuickComm's Spirit II combination fax/data modem offers a low-cost way to make your computer capable of transmitting and receiving both faxes and data. You can quickly send a letter to fax machines or connect to a BBS or online network for E-mail.
There are numerous other fax/data modems on the market, but QuickComm's new series offers the latest technology at low prices. The internal and external Spirit II modems are priced at $229 and $249, respectively. They include V.42 and MNP 2-4 error correction protocols and V.42bis and MNP 5 compression protocols.
MNP stands for Microcom Networking Protocol. It refers to standard protocol methods used by manufacturers of modems in providing error-free transfer of data from one computer to another. V.42bis is a similar protocol set by the CCITT organization. These protocols ensure the fastest, most efficient transfer speeds possible with the widest range of other faxes and modems.
I tried the external version of the Spirit. As long as there's a serial port available, hardware installation consists of simply connecting the fax/data modem to the computer with the supplied cable, plugging the phone line into the standard modular connector on the Spirit II, and attaching the unit's power supply. The documentation is clear, and phone support is available.
Three programs are included with the Spirit II - the Qmodem data communications software and both DosFax Lite and WinFax Lite. While all three programs work well, the Spirit II also works with other communications and fax programs. If you already have modem software installed, you can continue using the program you're familiar with while still taking advantage of the Spirit II's new technology.
In fact, after experimenting with the supplied programs here, that's exactly what I did. My regular communications software - Pro-YAM - worked just fine, as did the many scripts programmed in over the years.
Now the good part - the Hayes-compatible 9600-bps modem (circa 1990) that I replaced with the Spirit II for this review is in use every day for data transfers. The Spirit II, at the same bps rates, was markedly faster in both uploading and downloading files. The bottom line: Modem technology has improved a lot in the past three years, and the Spirit II gives you the advantage of this improvement at a good price.
But what about faxes? That's the other side of this dual-purpose device - sending and receiving faxes - and the Spirit II performs well. The included fax software does that for you. If you want a fax program with more features, there's an upgrade offer enclosed for either DosFax PRO or WinFax PRO.
For considerably less than the price of a separate high-speed modem and fax machine, you can fill both functions by installing a Spirit II fax/data modem. In fact, if you were buying it only for its modem capabilities, it would still be a good deal.