MultipleMobileUSB external modem adds much except weightIf...

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August 02, 1999|By Gareth Branwyn

MultipleMobileUSB external modem adds much except weight

If you have a laptop, you likely have either a built-in modem or a PC card modem. If you have the latter and are in the market for an upgrade, you might consider an external USB modem like the MultiMobileUSB ($189). This teeny 1-inch-by-3-inch modem disappears into your pocket or laptop bag until you need it.

The beauty of USB modems is that they free up PC card slots and draw less power. PC card modems use battery power even when idle. A USB modem can be easily plugged in and unplugged when needed, drawing juice only when in use.

Like most USB devices, the MultiMobileUSB is a breeze to set up. Also, like a lot of USB devices, its "Plug and Play" capability is a bit exaggerated. You're told on the box that you need only plug it in and it's installed. Not true. You still need to install driver software. Shouldn't Plug and Play mean "Step 1: Plug in; Step 2: Play"? Until that happens, Plug and Play is a misnomer as far as I'm concerned.

The MultiMobileUSB is also a hardware modem. Some of these mini-modems do their processing in software on your desktop, taking up processing cycles and slowing access on pokier machines. The MultiMobile's hardware processing (using a Lucent chip set) will likely be of benefit to those with Pentium class or lower-speed Pentium II machines.

Connection speeds on my desktop 500MHz Micron were about the same between the MultiMobile and the Leopard Pocket USB modem (which is software-based).

Information: 800-972-2439 or www.multitech.com.

Shark Multimedia's Pocket USB Hub can link 3 devices to your laptop with ease

If you're looking for a USB hub for connecting three USB devices to one laptop USB port, Shark Multimedia's Pocket USB Hub ($39.95) is an inexpensive and stylish solution.

Taking a cue from Apple's translucent iMac, the Pocket USB Hub's case is frosted clear plastic so you can see its innards hard at work. Three colored lights are attached to each USB port and there's a power light.

The unit measures only 1.5-inch-by-3.5-inch-by-.75 inches. It's designed with laptops in mind, but it's a great space saver as a desktop hub as well.

The Pocket USB Hub has true Plug and Play capability and will work with USB-equipped Macs or PCs.

A DC power adapter port is provided, but the adapter itself is not included.

Information: 800-800-3321 or www.sharkmm.com

For full reviews of these and other gadgets, point your Web browser to www.streettech.com.

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