Anyone over the age of 25 or so knows the sound well. That high-pitched electronic whine-and-fuzz of a computer connecting to the Web. Dling-dling-dling-dling-shhhhhhh....
That's the sound of a computer modem doing its job. Once an enormous, complex device, today's modems are silent, small and much faster at what computer modems do: turn a digital stream of 1s and 0s into sound, then from sound back into digits.
Finding the right modem for your business needs is a matter of narrowing your choices in these four key areas:
1) Modem type. Are you seeking a cable modem, DSL modem, dial-up modem, laptop modem or another kind?
2) Features you want included in your modem, such as wireless capability.
3) Brand. Shopping by brand -- such as Motorola, Linksys, Cisco, Netgear or others -- can help narrow your choices.
4) Price. And of course you may have a specific budget, so look for models under $100, for example, if your funds are limited.
Buying the right computer modem for your connectionDial-up Internet is quickly becoming part of the past as broadband rolls out across the United States. Faster DSL models are now more common, while cable modems are a popular alternative for cable TV customers.
computer modem choices at the Business.com directory on computer modems.
Understanding cable modem choicesIf you order your Internet service from the cable company, you will be sent or have to buy a cable modem. Here, your options are an external modem, an internal modem or a set-top box (this last one always comes from the cable company).
Understanding DSL modem choicesA DSL modem (sometimes called an ADSL modem) is the one you'll use if you buy broadband from the phone company. It plugs into a normal phone jack, then you telephone can still be plugged into it and work normally.
The difference bewteen a modem and a routerIn short, a modem turns the "sound" of the Web into information for your PC to show. A router, meanwhile, is like a traffic cop -- allowing more than one computer to connect to the same modem, to printers, and to each other. Yet, some manufacturers combine the two into one device, for simplicity's sake.
For on-the-go Web, consider a wireless modemLaptop computers come with a standard slot, usually on the side, called a PC card slot. Into that goes a wireless modem, a narrow metal card which, coupled with a paid account, will connect to the Web anywhere you can get a cellular signal.
wireless modem vendors at Business.com.
- Cable or DSL? Often, the question is better phrased "which company do you dislike least, the phone or cable company?" Seriously, service disruptions are bad news. Ask around about reliability.
- Hold out for a deal. Any broadband provider trying to earn you business should give you a modem and plenty of networking cables.
- Don't know a coax from a split line? Ask your provider rates on installation or call up Geek Squad for help. It isn't rocket science, but the initial set-up -- especially if want security like a firewall -- is a bit hairy.