GIF News Issue 22
September / October 1992
(C)1992 Hsiao & Hunter, Inc.
Release date: September 7, 1992
------------------- From the Desk of the Editor -------------------------
Hi, this is Eric Hsiao, the creator of GIF News. Thanks for taking the
downloading GIF News. This is a special issue covering tele-
communications, covering everything from modems to term programs and
If you find the information in this issue of GIF News useful and
helpful, please consider a small donation of around $5 to help cover
long distance telephone charges incurred from the distribution
of GIF News.
So, sit back and enjoy the issue. Please feel free to send me any
comments and questions you may have.
Our next issue will be November/December. Look for it around Nov 1st.
Files in this archive:
GN9209-1.GIF --- Page 1 (SVGA 640x480 256 color page)
GN9209-2.GIF --- Page 2 (SVGA 640x480 256 color page)
GN9209-3.TXT --- Page 3 (Text page: Modem Survey Details)
GN9209-4.TXT --- Page 4 (Text page: SupraFax Review)
GN9209-5.TXT --- Page 5 (Text page: USR Sportster Review)
GN9209.TXT --- This file (From the Desk of the Editor)
GIFNEWS.ADS --- How to advertise in GIF News
BACKISSU.TXT --- Description of all back issues of GIF News
8 Files Total
Again, GIF News is released as "Like-ware". Feel free to copy and
give it to friends, and if you like reading GIF News, please consider a
small donation to cover my long distance bills. Again, copying GIF News
is permitted, provided no modifications of any kind are made to any of
the files in this archive. This includes the addition or deletion of
files to and from this archive (i.e. no unauthorized BBS ads allowed).
Please upload GIF News to a couple of your favorite boards. Any bit
of distribution helps. By the way, a PostScript Laser Printer would really
be appreciated here. It would enable us to send hardcopies of GIF News to
those who want it on paper. If you know of any office/computer supply
auctions, please let me know.
Free advertising continues...read GIFNEWS.ADS for more details.
Special note to Internet readers: If you would like to be a
GIF News subscriber, just send me E-mail and I will add you to the
mailing list. GIF News will be uuencoded and sent to you via E-mail.
Many uudecoders exist for both unix and ms-dos platforms. If you are
unable to handle the .ZIP format on your machine, let me know and I
will send you the file in an LHARC, ARJ, ZOO, or ARC format.
Also, if you're anonymously FTP'ing, and come across some files you
think might be GIF News. You can easily tell which issue is up by
looking at the filename. For example, the filename is:
gn92-09.zip <-- The gn stands for GIF News, the 92 re-
presents the year, and the 09 is the
month (September in this case).
So be sure to look for gn92-11.zip in the beginning of September.
Several FTP sites you might want to look for GIF News are:
For the easiest way to contact me, please check out the following:
Note: Besides US Postal Mail, I check my Internet E-Mail most often.
How to reach me:
US Mailing Address #1
7 Fair Way
Poughkeepsie, New York 12603-5014
US Mailing Address #2
406-A BARH Mailroom, RPI <------------------
Troy, New York 12180-3590 |
Note: Both above addresses will reach me, but address #2 will reach me quicker
from September '92 to May '93.
TO: Eric Hsiao (EMS)
MBX: [press ENTER key]
The following bulletin boards are GIF News distribution sites, which means
you can call them up and get the latest issue (or older issues)
AmeriCall (212) 876-5885 Dual Standard
Radio Daze (219) 256-2255
IDS DataForum (401) 884-7564 Internet FTP/TELNET access 184.108.40.206
Strat's Asylum (407) 269-2495
Software Creations (508) 368-4137 Dual Standard
Cygnus' BBS (508) 343-8848
Quandra BBS (602) 527-8895
Channel 1 (617) 354-8873 50 Access Lines
DataCOM (813) 796-5627 USR 16.8K HST/v32bis
Patchbay (818) 441-3965 Dual Standard
MMT-80/SF (914) 297-2915 USR Dual/Standard
PC Pitstop (914) 298-1914 USR 16.8K HST/v32bis
Executive Network (914) 667-4567
Remember, just do a search for GN*.* for GIF News files. On Compuserve,
go to the GAME forum and go to the online electronic magazines file section
and search for keyword GIF NEWS.
Sysops: If you want your BBS on this list, please let me know.
If you are interested in hiring a full time graphics artist or computer
systems engineer, please contact me. I have experience with creating
computer graphics and video as well as skills in Windows, Lotus 123, Word
for Windows, Modems & Communications, Unix, Pascal, C, and PC Hardware &
Peripheral Installation. I'm also interested in working in the field of
Contact me and I will send/FAX you a resume.
--------------------- Thank-you for downloading and reading GIF News,
September 7, 1992
** Descriptions of every single issue of GIF News that has come out **
If you want any of these issues, just send a Self-Addressed-Stamped-
Envelope and a blank floppy (5.25 or 3.5) and I'll copy them over for you.
Each issue is around 100K zipped. Please don't forget to include the
FLOPPY and S.A.S.E.
Or send a check/money order (see GN9209.TXT for the address)
Cost per each 360K disk (5.25) = $ .75
Cost per each 720K disk (3.5) = $1.25
Add $.75 for shipping - average size of an issue is around
Or call any of the bulletin boards listed in the GN9209.TXT file.
Issue # Date Description
------- ---- -----------
01 Nov/Dec 1988 Reviews of Leisure Suit Larry II, Fire Power,
GN88-11 and Sentinel Worlds, a short autobiography of
Hsiao & Hunter, Inc.
02 Feb/Mar 1989 Virus protection safeguards, review of Police
GN89-02 Quest II, "Are MS-DOS Games Getting Better"
editorial, game hints to Leisure Suit Larry 2.
03 May/June 1989 Industry news, Space Quest ]I[ review, 1st
GN89-05 annual Sight & Sound Awards, "Taito Games Are
04 July/Aug 1989 Nintendo Game Hints (Super Mario Bros 2, Rad
GN89-07 Racer, Karnov), Reviews of 4 different driving
simulation games (Vette, Test Drive 2, Lombard
Rally, F40 Pursuit Simulator), Review of the
game Caveman Ugh-Lympics, a short overview of
Lotus 123 Release 3.
05 Nov/Dec 1989 Review of Maxis' Sim City, the new Tears For
GN89-11 Fears CD "Seeds of Love", and a review of
Sierra's Manhunter II.
06 Jan/Feb 1990 A Look back at the eighties, review of Sierra's
GN90-01 the Colonel's Bequest, and a overview of music
cards (AdLib, GameBlaster, SoundBlaster, &
Roland), the best VGA games.
07 Mar/Apr 1990 "Do Sound Cards Really Sound that Good?"
GN90-03 editorial, a profile of the Channel 1(tm) BBS
in Cambridge, MA, review of Access' Crimewave
and Bitmap Bros' Xenon II, look at digitizing
08 May/June 1990 Detailed look at the VGA and VESA video
GN90-05 standard, the Ultima VI built-in cheat, the
World of Amiga show in New York City.
09 July/Aug 1990 Request for BBS distribution sites, Computer
GN90-07 Industry News, a look at the Sound Blaster card,
a review of Spectrum Holobytes' Faces game.
10 Sept/Oct 1990 Review of the games Atomix & Puzznik, a look at
GN90-09 Battlechess II and future game releases, v.42
& v.42bis - what their advantages are.
11 Nov/Dec 1990 Look at the TrakBlaster program, new Flight
GN90-11 Simulator scenery disks, Reviews of games
Spellcasting 101 and Jones in the Fast Lane,
the Amiga Video Toaster by NewTek, Being a
Game Designer for Electronic Arts.
12 Jan/Feb 1991 V.32bis standard, XGA, LaserDiscs, the
GN91-01 controversial Lotus-Equifax CD-ROM CD, "Boo to
Disney Software" editorial, FD-Format, review of
the game Hard Nova.
13 Mar/Apr 1991 Look at Workstations, BBS's pay business rates
GN91-03 on their phone lines, JMPlayer review, Amiga 24
bit graphics, the first VGA page ever.
14 May/June 1991 The Prodigy STAGE.DAT controversy, review of
GN91-05 TrakBlaster v2.0, MediaVision's Pro-Audio
Spectrum, Amiga News, Review of Lemmings.
15 July/Aug 1991 The PC Expo in NYC, look at Creative Labs'
GN91-07 Voice Edit program, hints to the adventure game
Time Quest, a review of the game Armor Alley,
Internet News, and the first-ever GIF News
16 Sept/Oct 1991 Sound Blaster Pro Vs. AdLib Gold, "High Prices
GN91-09 for Game Software" Editorial, Internet News,
Contest Winners Announced.
17 Nov/Dec 1991 Closer look at AdLib Gold, Windows 3.1 news,
GN91-11 Wing Commander II Built-in cheat, Police
Quest III, WordTris, Internet sites, new
releases for various computers.
18 Jan/Feb 1992 AdLib Gold Delayed, Brief Windows 3.0 program
GN92-01 review, Oh No More Lemmings!, 1992 planned
releases, best graphical adventure game company,
first SVGA page, Internet Archie Server.
19 Mar/Apr 1992 Reviews of two VGA shareware games: Scorched
GN92-03 Earth and Galactix, short look at two multi-
media groups, the new US Robotics 16.8K Modem,
SupraCorp's v32bis modem, industry news,
coming Apogee releases, $49 CD full of share-
ware and public domain software.
20 May/June 1992 IBM/compatible sound cards reviews. Pro Audio
GN92-05 Spectrum 16, AdLib Gold 1000, Sound Blaster Pro
21 July/Aug 1992 PC Expo #10 - news straight from the show!
GN92-07 Reviews of Dagger of Amon Ra & Classic Tetris
Soundcard news on Gravis Ultrasound and
telecommunication news on V.fast standard
and US Robotics new line of modems.
22 Sept/Oct 1992 Special Telecommunications issue, covering
GN92-09 modems, BBS software, and communication
terminal programs for PC's, Amigas, and Macs.
* FREE ADVERTISING * FREE ADVERTISING * FREE ADVERTISING * FREE ADVERTISING *
Policy updated for May 1992, subject to change.
Advertising in SIMPLE and EASY in GIF News, and very very affordable.
Basically a small ad, roughly under 1/5 the size of a full page, will be
free of charge. Often times these are ads for Bulletin Board Systems.
GIF News is read by thousands of readers throughout the world. Besides
the standard way of distribution through Bulletin Board Systems, GIF News
travels by means of the worldwide Network of Internet which reaches many
countries such as Japan, Australia, Norway, Finland, Canada, USA, France,
Great Britain, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, and more. GIF News can also
be found on the Compuserve Game Forum in the Magazines download section.
Here are some guidelines to follow for advertising in GIF News:
1. If short and small, the ad is free of charge. I may add
some simple graphics to make the ad a little more interesting.
2. If advertising a BBS:
a. Send me a normal-access user acount pre-registered. In
other words, add an Eric Hsiao to your user roster and
pick a password and send it to me (along with your ad).
b. Sysops must let me know before each and every issue comes
out that they want their ad in it. This will help me keep
track of which boards are still up and which ones have gone
down. This will save our readers from the trouble of dialing
long distance to a board and getting a "Sorry, the number you
have dialed has been disconnected..." I am unable to accept
requests that say "Please put my BBS ad for the next 10
issues." If you want your BBS ad in the next 10 issues, you
much notify me before the deadline of each of the 10 issues
that you want the ad in it.
3. If contributing money for an ad:
a. A full page with customized drawn graphics by me will general-
ly run around $75 - add $25 for each additional issue that you
want the ad in.
b. Pre-supplied/drawn graphics full page size will generally
be around $50 - add $25 for each additional issue that you
want the ad in.
c. Half a page of custom graphics will run around $30 - add $10
for each additional issue that you want the ad in.
d. Pre-supplied/drawn graphics half size will be around $15 -
add $10 for each additional issue that you want the ad in.
e. Please keep in mind that these are only general numbers, I am
very flexible and will negotiate. Also, unlike the FREE BBS
ad policy, you can request that your ad be in for a certain
number of issues (ex. "Please put my full page ad in the
January issue for a contribution of $50, plus I would like
to see it in the March/April and May/June issues for an
additional contribution of $50 (2 x $25). See above for
f. Contributions not need be in the form of monetary units
(money). Instead, products of interest to me such as a
PostScript Laser Printer, v32Bis Modem, etc. would really
4. Any legitimate commercial/business/organization/group/individual
can advertise in GIF News. GIF News retains the right to refuse
any advertisement due to content, space considerations, or
other reasons. We try to screen all advertisers for legitimacy.
Complaints against advertisers should be directed toward the
advertiser or the Better Business Bureau, not GIF News.
5. The final deadline for the next issue is 10 days before the issue
is to come out. In other words, for the Nov/Dec 1992 issue,
I must have the ad in my hands by October 21, 1992.
* FREE ADVERTISING * FREE ADVERTISING * FREE ADVERTISING * FREE ADVERTISING *
GN9209-3.TXT Issue #22 GIF News
Page Three - September/October 1992 Hsiao & Hunter, Inc.
Editor's note: Advertisements are between the equal bars and the \/
\/ From Sunny Spain, comes:
\__/ ooo oooo ooo ooo ooo ooooo ooooo ooo
/ \ O O O O O O O O O O O O O
---| |--- O O OoooO Ooo O O Oooo Oooo Oooo
\__/ O O O O O O O O O O O O O
/ \ oOo Oooo O O O O OoO oOooo oOooo OoooO
Open 24 hours/day, running on a v.32bis modem.
Sysop: Emilio Castellano (2:341/1.0)
Co-Sysop: Jose Pedro Moro (2:341/1.1)
BBS dedicated to OS/2, games and programming. LucasFilm Games
support BBS, Official ASP approved BBS, Home of the Spanish
OS/2 echo area, running on Binkley and Maximus/2 under OS/2 2.0.
300 Megs online. Membership fee of 3000 pesetas ($30 US) gives
El numero del telefono: 34-1-519-4645
Saludos y bienvenidos!
> More on the Telecommunications Survey <
Other modems owned by survey respondents include:
ATI, Anchor, Quicktel, Packard Bell, Digicom Scout, ZyXel,
Global Village Power Port, Zoom, Twincomm, GVC Super Modem,
Everex, and Microcom.
Among the Australian respondents, Netcomm was the most popular.
USRobotics modems are not approved by the Australian goverment,
therefore it is illegal to use a HST or Dual Standard there.
Some indicated that the Telebit PEP protocol works very well
on noisy lines. Also, Telebit is preferred in the Unix world, just
as HSTs are in the BBS world. However, with v32bis standardized,
it is quickly becoming the popular choice among users.
Since Supra and USRobotics garnished the most amount of votes, lets
see what people had to say about these modems:
"...very good quality, performance, and reliability."
"...excellent. Well documented, well engineered, no surprises.
Overpriced for an individual user who does not have a need for the
HST protocol, but an excellent choice for a BBS modem."
"I prefer the Dual Standard unit, as that gives me the required option
to communicate with as many different types of modems available."
"I have a USR DUAL 16.8, and its GREAT!"
"I am using a USR Courier HST Dual Standard 14.4kbps and have considerably
good success with this modem, with the exception of trying to connect
with a SUPRA and some Telebits."
"Alot of the other 14.4k modems are still buggy. USR's product has been
stable for over 1.5 years."
"Good modem, cheap, fast, but a bit buggy. Much performance for the price,
"Good. Inexpensive, reliable, and seems to get along well with most types
"...all advanced features, including FAX, in one package. Low price."
In the software category, different users have their own
preference for terminal programs.
In the Amiga area, JRComm is preferred the most. Some general
comments about it:
"Easy to use, lots of features, stable."
"I like its full Zmodem support, excellent interface."
"...it lacks a script lanuage."
"...better serial handshaking..."
Another frequently mentioned program is VLT 5.517 - comments
"...it behaves very well under AmigaOS 2.04 and looks great on a
40x80 character screen. It also has a nice 'phone book' utility."
"Extensive ARexx support, completely configurable and programmable."
"...Clipboard support...quick to use...good VT100 emulation...
extensive scripting/programming capabilities."
"Wish it had VT200 or better emulation."
"Very versatile but a bit difficult to set up."
2. IBM and Compatibles
Qmodem and Telix tied for first. Among the comments received are:
"...wish it had mouse support, or was available in a Windows version.
Wish it had MNP emulation in it."
"...it's the most versatile..."
"Key combinations makes access to functions very fast."
"Very satisfied...encountered only two bugs, and these are more
annoyances than critical errors."
"Robust, has a decent zmodem. Poor terminal emulations on VT-102...
ANSI is not complete..."
"...reliable and easy to use. Also the scripting language is awesome..."
"...I don't like Telix 3.15 because I can't get 'vi' (unix editor) to
work properly...I get really annoyed when Telix can't do non-destructive
"I like it's speed and reliability. I dislike the fact that it isn't
a Windows application..."
"...easy to use while providing all of the power/configurability I need
to work with a wide variety of modems and host systems...fairly
efficient. Unfortunately, its VT-102 emulation isn't perfect and its
Kermit protocol implementation is absolutely minimal."
ZTerm 0.9 earned the most amount of votes for the most used
Mac term program.
Here is what people had to say about it:
"It's fast and very useful...it doesn't download in the background very
"...it is the best comm program for the mac...only problem is flakey
There are alot of different types of BBS software for the different
platforms of computers out there. The most popular among Amiga users
is DLG Pro. Here is what some people had to say about it:
"It is fast, friendly, has many nice features like compressing mail in
the background, Usenet support, a nice full-screen editor..."
One respondent who runs a pre-release of DLG Pro BBS/OS says this:
"Total modularity. It is called a BBS/Operating System because that's
what it is. In fact, any DOS command can be made part of the BBS...
Multi-line. Unlimited number of lines can be added, as far as the
software is concerned...it is so darned rich in commands, most of my
users are at first daunted by the sheer amount of options presented
For PC-based bulletin boards, PC Board and Waffle were popular mentions.
"I like it because I can do things quickly. Without having to go thru
a million menus, I can quickly read the new messages and see the new
"...use PC Board, Wildcat, Binkley Term...they're all the same to me."
"...ease of use...dislike setup."
"Waffle on the IBM PC is powerful but hard to use."
"It is not the easiest to learn, but once you know what you are doing,
you can quickly access the files and messages that you want to download
For the Macintosh systems, Mac users had this to say about the various
"TeleFinder and FirstClass BBS are both excellent examples of how BBSs
are destined to become graphical in nature."
"Don't like any of the PC-based boards as they are implemented
differently...whatever happened to consistency?"
All files are FREQable
Files, online games, messages + International E-mail via FidoNet
New shareware! Cedar Island Link v2.15
Current version of GIF News FREQable under magicname GIFNEWS
Sysop: Scott (Scooter) Fell
GN9209-4.TXT Issue #22 GIF News
Page Four - September/October 1992 Hsiao & Hunter, Inc.
\/ _____ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
|\ /| |\ /| | / | | \ | \ /
| \/ | | \/ | | ----- ---- |--- |---< |---< ----
| | | | | ___/ | |___/ |___/ ___/
* GIF News distribution site * Member of Skynet, 63 Conferences,
4000+ files * Wilcat! 3.50M * OS/2 File Section * Two Nodes *
* Running on two USR 16.8 kbps Dual Standards * Node 1 (914) 297-2915
* Node 2 (914) 297-5623
> Supra FAX modem v.32bis <
Review by Ken Goldenberg
I remember my first modem. It was 300 bps and was one of the
first direct connect modems I'd ever seen. I was impressed that
some bbses supported 2400 bps . 14400 bps may seem similarly
unobtainable to many people now, but with its latest offering's
street price of around $300, Supra may just change that.
I purchased the external version for the Amiga, which is bundled
with a serial cable, the aging A-Talk III terminal software, and
GP FAX software. The bundle runs about $70 more than the bare
modem, but the fax software alone is worth the additional cost.
Setup of the modem is pretty typical of any high speed modem.
If you've never used a 9600 bps modem before, you can plan on
spending a little time with the manual. Luckily, it's quite
good. Users familiar with 9600 bps modems will probably be up
and running after a glance or two at the quick reference card.
I liked the idea of being able to fax things to work, and the GP
FAX software does a really good job. The program multitasks
cleanly, has an AREXX port, and sports a slick, intuitive
interface. The program can convert ASCII test to fax documents,
or intercept data that is sent through the PRT: device. In this
manner, I create a document in PageStream, and faxed it to a
Sharp F0-4900 plain pare laser fax. The output was
unbelievable. I'll still use the copy I printed on a LaserJet
as a master, but the fax was the sharpest thing I've ever seen
roll out of a fax machine. Ever.
I am only aware of two problems with the software. First, you
can only run one copy of it at a time. If you have any plans to
buy more than one FAXmodem and send more than one fax at a time
(you want to fax urgent information to 80 offices ASAP) then
you'll have some trouble. There was also reportedly some
trouble between GP FAX and Final Copy. GP software is aware of
the problem and is supposedly working on a fix.
Okay, the fax capabilities are nice, but you want a modem for
more than the fax and the neat LEDs on the front panel, right?
Well this is a v.32bis modem, and when connected to another
v.32bis modem you can expect transfers of over 1600cps over good
phone lines. The Supra modem I used seemed slightly more
sensitive to bad line quality, but I have notoriously bad wiring
in my apartment. The manual's suggestion: use AT&T if you're
having problems with line noise. The modem supports v.42bis as
well, MNP 2-5 and supposedly MNP 10, which is used for SEVERE
error correction (such as cellular communication). I don't know
anyone else with MNP 10, so I can't confirm this, but a rumor
flying around the Internet is that the current Supra 14.4's do
not support MNP 10, and may never be upgraded to do so. If MNP
10 is a requirement of your next modem, I suggest confirming its
presence before purchasing the Supra.
Supra has promised to release free ROM upgrades to all
registered users (the latest promised date is late August). I
have had no serious problems with this modem after three months
of normal use and would recommend it to anyone interested in a
low cost modem.
\/ ****** Attention Internet Users ******
Try the fastest menu program available for MS-DOS machines.
Written in assembly to be blindingly fast. Very versatile and easy
to configure with included setup program. To try it out today:
FTP to cc.usu.edu
Login as 'anonymous' and use your userid as the password
Type 'cd incoming'
Type 'get fastmenu.zip'
When done, type 'bye' to quit out of FTP and use a transfer
protocol to send fastmenu.zip to your PC.
Fast Menu program by InterSpect Productions. Shareware.
GN9209-5.TXT Issue #22 GIF News
Page Five - September/October 1992 Hsiao & Hunter, Inc.
> The USRobotics Sportster V.32bis Sportster 14,400 <
Review by Eric Hsiao
USRobotics has always been synonymous with high quality modems in the BBS
world. Their Dual Standard is the dream modem of many BBS users, and is
one of the most popular high-speed modem used by sysops. USRobotics'
aggressive-pricing sysop plan has made their courier line of modems very
successful in the BBS scene. All USRobotics modems now come with Group 3
Fax capabilities built in.
With the success of the Courier line given, there is another new line of
modems titled the Sportster line. These modems are targeted more to people
who want a good modem but are on a budget. While the lower priced modems
like the Boca Research and Zytel are based on the Rockwell chipset, the
Sportster uses its own DSP chip, which works quite well. Some users report
problems with Rockwell based modems such as busy-signal detection, FAX
connections, and difficulty connecting to certain brands of modems.
However, not all users of these modems have problems, so it may depend on
the ROM revision of the Rockwell chip, as well as the individual
manufacturer's design around the chip. Since the Sportster itself is not
based on the Rockwell chipset, it does not suffer from the same problems.
Instead, the Sportster line is designed around USRobotics' own DSP chip,
which functions very well.
Looking at the Sportster V.32bis, one can see the compactness and the
ergonomic design. The modem features the CCITT V.32bis standard, V.42
error correction, and V.42bis 4:1 data compression. The modem is also
backwards compatible with 9600, 2400, 1200, and 300 baud. However, this
modem does not have the HST protocol in it. Since most high speed boards
are running on Dual Standards anyway, connecting at 14.4bps is not too
difficult nowadays. The Sportster is capable of handling a DTE rate of
57.6 kbps, good for V.42bis compression. On the outside are nine LED
status lights, typical of most external modems. The front of the modem
features an easy to adjust volume knob, and the power button is
conveniently located on the left side of the modem. Transfer rates with
this modem at 14.4 kbps yield around 1650-1700 characters per second, using
the Ymodem-G protocol. The modem handles extremely well under line noise
conditions. The hardware is very stable and I have yet to come across any
problems with the modem itself.
Using the modem itself is easy. The only hardware installation involved is
plugging it in and turning it on. Make sure you have a 25-pin serial
cable, as the package does not come with one. However, it does come with
telephone wire. When installing, make sure the connection marked TELCO
goes to your wall jack and the one marked PHONE goes to your telephone. On
the software end, the modem comes with a information on setting up popular
PC communication packages for the modem. Most of the registers and dip
switch settings can be left mostly at the factory defaults, however, the
manual clearly defines them so if you do need to change any of them, you
will know what you are doing. A nice feature of the modem is the ability
to save your new settings, even if you power off the modem. This feature
uses the modem's non-volatile ram (NVRAM). The modem takes the standard
"AT" command set, making it Hayes-compatible.
In regards to software, the modem comes with BlastFax, a DOS-based FAX
program. Installing BlastFax is easy with the installation program.
However, I noticed a small bug where the installation program asked for
disk 2 twice, even though it was already in the drive. The Fax program
itself is fairly easy to use, with most of the commands done by the mouse.
Besides the standard FAX program features like keeping a phone book, a
send/receive log, and outgoing fax scheduling, BlastFax has the ability to
import other file types to be faxed. For example, you can create a logo
using a paint program, save it in .PCX format, and use it on the cover
sheet of your fax. BlastFax also takes in HP PCL level 4 and 5,
which means you can create a document in Windows, then print in HP format
into a file. That file can then be sent as a fax. BlastFax comes with
licensed fonts from the Agfa Division, Miles Inc. If you are not into
using DOS, Winfax Pro by Delrina works fine with the Sportster modem.
However, both these programs do have drawbacks. The first being that
neither lets you preview faxes using what-you-see-is-what-you-get
(WYSIWYG). You can view outgoing faxes with BlastFax, but only after
sending the FAX. In Winfax Pro, you cannot view cover pages at all. A
good fax program should allow a person to arrange the text and pictures on
the screen, much like a desktop publishing program. Neither BlastFax or
Winfax Pro allows you to change the location of a image, such as a .PCX
file, on the cover page. One should be able to place a logo or image where
they want and write text at any preferred place. A fax program that has
some basic desktop publishing features would make composing faxes so much
easier, and users could see exactly what they are faxing before they
actually fax it. Other fax programs do exist such as Intel's Faxability
Plus, Eclipse for Windows, and BitFax. However, I have not gotten a chance
to try them out yet.
Overall, the USRobotics Sportster V.32bis 14,400 Baud modem is a very
sturdy product that comes from a company that knows modems. It comes with
a 5-year warrantee, an 800 tech support number, and is made in the USA.
USRobotics operates its own bulletin board as well as having a
representative on the Relaynet RIME USRobotics conference. Basically, this
modem is for anyone who wants a competitively-priced modem with USRobotics
quality. The hardware works very well and does not suffer some of the
reported symptoms of Rockwell-based modems. The list price on the
Sportster is $529, but street prices are around $350-$400.