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External Modem better than Internal Modem?

hi guyz... one of my friends said that I should get an external modem instead of an internal modem because the external moden boosts the incoming and outgoing signal because it is connected to a power source whereas the internal modem runs off the pci power slot... what ever that means... so should i get an external or internal modem... can't get dsl/cable where I am... well maybe by satellite but heard that was expensive.

didot
Saturday, February 07, 2004

I have an external US Robotics modem on the desktop and an internal winmodem on the laptop. I haven't noticed any significant difference in speed.

There are good reasons for paying extra for a hardware modem, as opposed to a winmodem. The latter, which include nearly all internal modems, use the CPU for part of their work, and more importantly, are software dependent, so you can't use them with Linux or BSD if you dual boot. Whether that makes it worth the difference in price is another matter.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, February 07, 2004

Actually you can also buy something called "hard" internal modems. It lessens some CPU-dependence.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, February 07, 2004

No difference in performance.

The only thing better about the external modem is compatibility.  Much easier to configure, less likely to conflict with existing hardware, and they work with generic modem drivers for practically any operating system.

T. Norman
Saturday, February 07, 2004

P.S. I was referring to external modems that connect to the serial port.  USB and parallel port modems have less OS and hardware compatibility.

T. Norman
Saturday, February 07, 2004

Modem? What's that? You mean one of those old dial up thingies? Do they still make them?  :)

Addicted to broadband
Saturday, February 07, 2004

I REALLY like external modems with LEDs because then I can monitor with certainty unusual (ie: spyware) activity. This has alerted me to certain spyware activity that other spyware checking software had missed. Some of the spyware will mess with your activity monitor so on the computer it appears there is no activity, but the external modem's led just don't lie.

Tony Chang
Saturday, February 07, 2004

External modems that I have used have certainly seemed more able to make a high quality connection more reliably than most internal modems.  And I agree with the other posts that the diagnostic lights on an external modem are helpful in troubleshooting.

I have used trouble free internal modems, but the prevalence of "winmodems" a few years ago that rely on the computer itself for signal processing gave all internal modems a black eye. Plus, winmodems are highly dependent on having a driver available for the OS, and therefore are sometimes useless with Linux.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, February 07, 2004

The power scenario is a non-issue and should be ignored - power from the PCI bus is power, and a modem will never need more than a trickle.

Having said that, a lot of people prefer external modems simply because they give more visual feedback, are easier to swap if you have a defective unit/upgrade/etc, and touching on a point that others have made: A modem is a DSP unit that relies on the purity of the signal, and inside of a computer case is a high electromagnetic environment. Given that it's reasonable to assume that an external unit would be less affected by this. I doubt the difference is more than marginal though.

Dennis Forbes
Saturday, February 07, 2004

Dennis, you hit a spot there, if anything, I hope sound card makers would move these devices or chips out of the system and onto external casings. My PVR at home makes audible every little disk access or heavy processing that comes the unit's way.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, February 07, 2004

>> Actually you can also buy something called "hard" internal modems. It lessens some CPU-dependence

As far as I know, Multitech is pretty much the only mfg left that offers a controller-based internal modem these days. Too bad all the others are win/softmodems.

FredF
Saturday, February 07, 2004

Where I live, it seems external modems are much more reliable than internal ones. Infact our ISP recommends external modems. They are less prone to disconnect, and have higher response time. Infact we can't play counter strike with internal modems, because of the response time.  Apart from this external modems are more well built and are of higher quality, while the internal modems market is way too competitive to be able to bear high quality internal modems. People who buy internal modems do so because they want it cheap. Not because of desk space or lack of a free serial port.

But does any one the reason behind producing USB modems? They are "external" but non the less very much a soft modem, *and* they cost just the same as serial port ones.

Ravi
Sunday, February 08, 2004

"But does any one the reason behind producing USB modems? They are "external" but non the less very much a soft modem"

I haven't been in the modem game for years (I was suprized to find a new laptop had one built-in), but I see no reason why an external USB modem would be "soft". By "soft" I mean the "Winmodem" design where all of the DAC processing was offloaded to a software driver that leveraged the processing power of the CPU in your PC. USB modems may need special drivers simply because they aren't in the traditional serial modem slot, but I see no reason why they inherently are more likely to be of the "soft" kind.

Dennis Forbes
Sunday, February 08, 2004

I thought US actually made it much easier to write drivers because the USB host had a generic driver which meant part of the work was done.

Certainly scanner support in Linux increased greatly with USB scanners becoming common and the advent of the 2.4 version of the kernel.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, February 08, 2004

"I was suprized to find a new laptop had one built-in"

Don't travel much, eh?

Go to a hotel, you're back in 33.6-land. [ugh]

(I finally stayed at a place with high-speed in the room last week. I hope it continues to grow)

Philo

Philo
Sunday, February 08, 2004

Dear Philo,
                Never mind the hotels. Many small places in the USA (and big places everywhere else) still only have dial-up or satellite - and sometimes you're back in 24Kbs land.

                Also plenty of people only use the internet to occasionally check mail. Anything but dialup is overkill.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, February 08, 2004

We live in one of those "small places", and until recently, our choices were dialup (we did get 40-ish K), or ISDN for $100/month. Now, we're geeks with good paying jobs, so we opted for the ISDN, but surely we were virtually the only ones. Any form of DSL (including IDSL) was impossible with the 40,000 feet between us and the CO.

However, about 6 months ago, an ISP rented space on one of those giant towers, and brought in wireless. It's a great solution for the last-mile problem, IMO.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, February 08, 2004

I just like being able to look at the lights. Other than that, I don't find external modems to perform better *or* worse than internal modems in any way.

Caliban Tiresias Darklock
Monday, February 09, 2004

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