Designed for portability, the USRobotics 56K USB Modem is small enough to slip into a pocket, case or backpack when you're travelling, and draws its power from a USB port on a PC or Mac.

Quite a few people were surprised when Apple revealed that the new MacBook Air had built-in wireless networking but no ethernet connector. After all, a wireless-only laptop is fine if you can afford to sit in airport lounges or posh hotels with the latest technology at your beck and call. But for the rest of us, there are plenty of occasions when we find ourselves in places that don't have wireless networks.

In fact, there are times when even ethernet and broadband internet access can be hard to find. There are, for instance, many hotels in the UK and dotted around Europe that don't have internet access at all – unless, that is, you resort to that relic of 20th century technology, the dialup modem.

For those of you that don't remember them, dialup modems allow you to connect to the internet using a conventional phone line (rather than a phone line that has been upgraded to use the ADSL broadband technology). Admittedly, dialup connections aren't very fast – the USRobotics 56K USB Modem provides a top speed of 56Kbps, compared to the 2Mbps that is now the common minimum for broadband internet services.

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That sort of speed means you won't be doing too much web browsing, or downloading music or video files. However, it will at least allow you to log on and check your emails when you need to.

That's where the USRobotics 56K USB Modem comes in. Designed for portability, the USRobotics 56K USB Modem is small enough to slip into a pocket, case or backpack when you're travelling, and draws its power from a USB port on a PC or Mac.

Installation is very straightforward, as you just load the modem script driver from the CD and then enter the details of your dialup account into the PC – in Vista, for example, use Phone and Modem Options from control Panels, and follow the wizard.

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USRobotics 56K USB Modem: Specs

  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista, Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later, Linux kernel 2.4.20 or higher
  • V.92 analogue modem with V.PCM Upstream technology
  • 99x36x25mm
  • 51g
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista, Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later, Linux kernel 2.4.20 or higher
  • V.92 analogue modem with V.PCM Upstream technology
  • 99x36x25mm
  • 51g

OUR VERDICT

Jokes about Antiques Roadshow aside, the USRobotics 56K USB Modem could turn out to be very useful for business users or other people that spend time checking into more remote hotels. It could even turn out to be a lifesaver if you need to check your email and find yourself holed up somewhere that doesn't have broadband internet access.

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