A traditional hardware modem really is two major parts: the modulator/demodulator (hence "modem") which translates the buzzes and hisses to bits and vice versa, and the "personality": the hardware and software that lets you type AT commands, does error correction and so on.

A "winmodem" moves one or both of those parts to Windows (or Linux, of course) software. The advantages can be size and cost, and of course it's trivial to add new features or fix bugs. The disadvantage is that a modem has to do quite a bit of work, which a winmodem hands off to your CPU.

Key words to look for: HSP (Host Signal Processor), "Controllerless", and of course "Windows Only" (though Linux may still support it regardless).

Although it is certainly true that modern CPU's spend more time loafing than anything else, I think I still prefer a hardware modem - not that I have much use for modems at all anymore.

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© Tony Lawrence

Synonyms for "winmodem:" fake modem, doorstop, pen de mierda (Spanish speaking readers will know what I mean), resource hog. <Smile>


---December 14, 2004

Well there are some advantages to winmodems. Not many, but they do exist. They are cheaper (or free if they came with your computer), they can be upgraded to support various protocols or be fixed thru a simple software upgrade, and can sometimes be faster and more stable then many hardware modems.

However generally they should be avoided if you can. If you need a modem for a serious reason it's to your advantage to put the money down for a real modem, they are just plain nicer and much less of a headache to get running properly. But for everybody else their are linmodems.


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