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Review: Elsa Microlink PCMCIA Modem

by David Ross on 20 March 2001, 00:00

Tags: ELSA

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Elsa Microlink PCMCIA Modem

Elsa Microlink PCMCIA Modem

Well this is a little different from my usual reviews, a more mundane but still very necessary part of a computer. In this age of the internet, you cannot really be without a modem, and Elsa are here to provide you with a PC Card modem otherwise know as a PCMCIA modem, for your portable computer or laptop. To use the modem I got out my Toshiba Libretto 110CT, this is one of the smallest fully functional Window PC's available it also has the required PCMCIA Type II card slots. In case you are confuse by the PCMCIA term it stands for "Personal Computer Memory Card International Association" which was abbreviated to PCMCIA, and around 1995 this was again renamed to just PC Card, a PCMCIA slot is a common feature on just about all laptops in the past 5 years or so, any way enough of the history and on with looking at this modem

Supplied with the modem are an installation CD ROM, with Communicator Lite software an online manual, phone adapters for different country's, an extension cable, and a paper installation manual in numerous different languages, and a plastic storage case for the modem.

The Test Rig

Toshiba Libretto 110CT
Intel Pentium 233MMX
32MB RAM
4.3GB Hard drive
7.1 TFT screen
Windows 95b

This is somewhat different to my usual test platform but non the less an interesting bit of kit, and definitely very very portable (O:

The Elsa modem complies with all the regular 56K modem standards, V90 support fax support up to 14,400bps, and comes with a 2 year warranty which is reassuring (O: .

Here's some pictures of the modem showing just how tiny it is and also how tiny the Libretto is (O:

Installation

The drivers come on a CD ROM along with some other utility's. There is one slight problem with the Toshiba Libretto in that it doesn't have a CD ROM drive, this is a minor problem and I used a PCMCIA network card to access my Athlon system across the network and install the drivers. I had the Libretto on the network as I installed the Modem and it went smoothly. Windows 95 detected the modem when I inserted the card and asked for the drivers I simply pointed it at the network CD ROM drive, the drivers where on the root of the CD ROM drive so there was no hunting through folders, to find it which was a pleasant change, within a minute or so I had the modem installed, this was as painless as you could expect hardware installation to be, I didn't even have to reboot the system.

With PC Cards you can hot swap the cards so you don't need to reboot the system the screenshot below shows the taskbar utility to stop the PC Cards to, safely remove it.

The phone cable clips directly into the modem no wobbly connectors or dongles this makes it much more portable and robust than some PC Card modems about at the moment

Connection

Setting up a new dial up networking account is a matter of a few minutes, and then you are ready to connect to the Internet, There isn't a terrible lot you can say about the performance in the laptop, it connected and dialed correctly and connection speeds where between 44,000bps and 46,000bps this is fairly normal for my usual modem connection speed around here. I ran the modem for 2 hours on my BT Surf time internet connection and suffered no disconnections, the modem just worked exactly as you would expect it to. I ran on the battery as well and the battery life seemed to be slightly better than the previous modem that was in there. I don't have access to the correct wires for connecting to a mobile phone so I'm not sure how it would perform on a truly mobile setup setup. In the box with the modem are connectors for the various type of phone connections across Europe, This would be useful on holiday or if you just happen to be in another country when you buy the modem (O: . Also provided is a spare extension cable to allow you to extend the cable to reach a suitable phone socket.

Conclusion

Well to sum up you can't really go wrong with the Elsa PC Card Modem modem, it installed easily even in my rather elderley Windows 95 Laptop, it worked flawlessly, and best of all it doesn't cost the earth. So if you have laptop and no modem then you should think seriously about getting this one (O: .

Pro's

It works very well

It's small.

It's fast, affordable

Con's

It won't work unless you have a laptop with a PCMCIA slot

Nothing else I can think of