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    Review of the Broadtech/Linkskey's V1456VQH-R k56Flex Modem

    Hi and welcome to the second edition of ModemHelp.Org's monthly product review section. This month we will be testing Broadtech/Linkskey's V1456VQH-R k56Flex Modem. This test isn't like the usual reviews you will see here. This is a long term test, which in this case has extended for over 18 months. Different testbeds were used (Intel P133 and P233 PC's), while connecting to k56Flex/V.90 Ascend Max 4000's and Cisco AS5200's as well as X2/V.90 Total Control Quad's and Hyperarcs. All term servers have gone through multiple code revisions in the testing period as well.

    This Linkskey 56k modem supports K56flex/V.90 and is based on the Rockwell (now Conexant Systems) chipset. Installation of the modem is pretty easy, like most plug and play modems, its pretty easy =), drop it in, turn the machine on, let it detect it, toss in the driver disk, and bang its installed. No problems there. Since this modem is based on the fairly standard Rockwell chipset, you expect that it should be a fairly reliable modem right?? Wrong. The modem I tested ranks right at the bottom of my modem charts (along with the X2 ESS 56k modem) for being the most unreliable 56k modems on the market. Average connection speeds of 45,000 to 48,000 bps are pretty decent. The problem isn't the connection speed, its the useability of the connection, or lack of usability in this case. Disconnections are quite frequent, I barely had a 20 minute connection without a disconnect (usually in the first 2 minutes) and actual transfer rate was quite poor, (I'll elaborate later but when the modem was locked in 33600bps mode download rates actually increased). Drivers from the Broadtech/Linkskey Support/Driver Site didn't help, (actually I had worse performance with these drivers if you can beleive it). The only solution I had to this reliability problem was to use an init string of +MS=11,1 or +MS=11,0,9600,33600. Both of these initialization strings limited the modem to a V.34 connection (33600 bps speeds) which solved the reliability problem. With this string, I was able to stay online for hours upon hours at a time with no problem. As well transfer speeds increased, and transfer rates acheived while locked in V.34 mode were actually better then most of the transfer speeds achieved using the 56k configuration.

    I honestly consider this one of the most stable 33.6 modem I've ever tested, but unfortunately this modem is sold as a 56k modem and, well as a 56k modem, it doesn't stack up very well at all.

    Craig Stumpf

    Mark Breakdown:

    Category: Comments:

    Performance: Connection speeds are average for a Rockwell Based Modem, although disconnections are too frequent, transfer speeds are below average for a 56k modem. Transfer speeds and disconnection problems dissapear in much more reliable 33.6 (V.34) mode..

    Supportability: Support from the Broadtech/Linkskey Support/Driver Site is pretty poor, at least they have the drivers up on the site. Overall the Broadtech/Linkskey Site is pretty poor, its actually (in my opinion) worse then the performance of the modem. The manual received with the modem is the standard Rockwell manual, pretty good. Some new 56k modems don't respond well to init strings at all, but in this case, I was very pleased to find out that this Linkskey 56k modem was a joy to work with when playing with its init string.

    Ease of Use/Configuration: Installation was a breeze, not a problem and it was a joy when adjusting init strings for the modem, although I don't suggest most novice users trying init strings if they don't know what they do.

    Compatibility: This modem was tested in different Intel Based PC's (P133 and P233) from different locations and against different term servers. There wasn't much difference in speed (except when connecting to X2 3Com Total Control boxes) Disconnection problems, wacky speeds (2400, 4800, 9600, 19200) affected the modem when conencting to 3Com Total Control X2 and later V.90 Hyperarc Boxes. The Ascends didn't have the speed problem, always a decent speed, but there were disconnect problems and even at V.34 speeds, there were still the occasional disconnects. The Cisco AS5200's actually gave the most stable connection of the bunch (there were still many many disconnects but not quite as many as the Ascend and 3Com's). Locking the modem in V.34 mode helped considerably when connecting to the above 3 platforms although the 3Com still gave the most disconnects, Ascend Max was pretty solid, not many disconnects, and the CiscoAS5200 was rock solid.

    Features: The modem actually came with Bitware voice messaging software, which worked admirably for me. I'm happy to report good quality and few problems from the bitware software. If them modem worked in V.90 or k56Flex mode I'd consider that a feature...

    Personal: I really feel sorry for the average user that buy's modems like this and have numerous problems which, chances are they don't have the technical knowledge or access to good support from manuals or the manufactuer to help them fix their modem problems.

    Overall: I honestly consider this one of the most stable 33.6 modem I've ever tested, but unfortunately this modem is sold as a 56k modem and, well as a 56k modem, it doesn't stack up very well at all. 40/100

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