Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
It's time for your weekly dose of more idiotry from the deepest, darkest depths
of the Web.
Writing Aardvark is thirsty work and I really wish I had
one of these
to make the imbibing of my beverages just a little more
It is sometimes said that the Internet has become the haunt of people
who really don't have a life. Perhaps
is proof of that allegation -- sure looks like it to me.
Rural Modems (Part 1)
As I mentioned earlier this week, I've been reviewing a couple of
dial-up modems which are supposedly desiged specifically for rural
users who find it difficult to get (or sustain) a decent connection
to the Net.
The first of these units I looked at was the
which retails for around $400+GST. The test unit was kindly provided
by The Electric Box Company.
So why would anyone want to fork out nearly $450 to buy a modem when you can
pick up an internal modem card for a little over $60 these days?
Well the sales pitch is that the Maestro Woomera offers "more stable internet
connections and in most cases a faster connection rate" -- but is this
really the case and even if true, is it worth paying seven times as much
Well regular Aardvark readers will know that I have had a lot of problems
with noisy phone lines out here.
Telecom did send out a couple of guys who fixed some faults and made a few
adjustments that produced a huge improvement -- but then, a week or so later,
it rained and everything went to hell in a handbasket again.
I'd say that my lines are a good test of any dial-up modem and you can
tell from the lack of hair on my head just how frustrating it can be when
your connection is lost half-way through a large download - four or five
times in a row!
So does the Maestro Modem help?
I have to say it's a whole lot better than the cheap GVC external modem
I was forced to use after my USRobotics Courier modem died a while back.
The GVC would either drop carrier or simply stop receiving data after
anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes into an online session. To get it to perform
that well I had to force it to not use the V90-level connections, but instead
limit itself to no more than 19.2Kbps.
By comparison, the Maestro has allowed me to stay online for as long as I want --
one recent session extending beyond 24 hours.
Just as impressive -- it was able to do this while maintaining a 24Kbps connection
which is just as good as my old US Robotics modem -- a unit reknowned for its
performance and tenacity on noisy lines.
The Maestro doesn't just work well -- it keeps you constantly informed as to
exactly how well it's doing. The inbuilt backlit LCD display shows the
current connect speed, the "quality" of the connection, the signal level,
and the impedance of the line.
It wasn't quite smart enough to cope with my horrendous lines without a little
"Out of the box" it insisted on trying to establish a V90
connection and succeeded at a carrier speed of around 46Kbps-48Kbps. However,
you could watch this speed drop off over a period of 5-6 minutes until it
had fallen right back to 33Kbps -- at which time it (or the modem on the
other end) simply gave up because too many errors had been encountered.
Forcing the modem to establish its initial connection at 26.4Kbps however,
meant that it didn't attempt a V90 session and thus a far more robust connection
was obtained -- even though it would eventually fall back to 24Kbps.
It was also very enlightening to watch the "signal quality" deteriorate each
time it rained. Likewise, the line impedance appears to change slightly
from call to call, suggesting that my lines are still in need of some
attention and that not all my problems are due to that plague of the rural
Internet community -- poorly maintained electric fences.
How about that styling though? You'll probably either love it or hate it. Personally
I think it's quite funky and probably well suited to a home environment -- but
it's not the type of thing that would look at home in a rack of other gear.
The bottom line?
For me (and I suspect many others in my position), this modem is certainly
worth the price being asked. It undoubtedly lives up to the claims on the
brochure and offered me both improved speed and what appears to be a bullet-proof
I notice also that The Electric Box Co is offering these units with a 30-day
money-back guarantee -- so if it doesn't work for you then there's no
risk. Clearly they have confidence in this product.
Next week I'll be looking at the Dynalink Rural Modem and comparing it to
the Maestro. Does it also live up to the claims made for it and which
is the better value?
Have your say.
Want to link to this site? Check out Aardvark's
Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it