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Review: Zoom brings Bluetooth to dialup modems

Vipul Shah

How often you find yourself at Hotel room or even at home and need to use internet from your laptop and feel stuck near phone socket instead of sitting in your favorite place like dining table or backyard or near pool?

Zoom Technologies is the first company to think of and introduce Zoom 4300 Bluetooth V.90 56kbps dialup fax/modem. I got the test unit few weeks ago from company and I was skeptical at that time of its performance in real world. Reasons are, even best of dialup modems had problems connecting and sustaining good speed consistently in phone lines in city where I tested the modem. And since this modem had additional Bluetooth factor I was not sure how it would perform.

zoom bluetooth dialup modem

To my surprise it constantly gave me 53Kbps connection to internet for more then 2 weeks daily 1 hour. I used AnalogX NetStat Live to monitor speed of modem. Setting up this modem is breeze. If you have already installed Bluetooth adapter in PC, just search for new Bluetooth device and when you find this modem, pair it and dial out. It took less then 2 minute from unwrapping box to be online. I tested it with Zoom 4310 Bluetooth adapter as well as Belkin Bluetooth adapter on PC and in both cases performance was excellent. This is very small foot print modem with antenna to deliver good coverage. It fits easily in laptop bags.

It is a Class 1 Bluetooth device and hence could be used with PCs up to 100 meter away as long as PC is also equipped with Class 1 Bluetooth adapter. If your PC doesnít have 100 meter range Bluetooth adapter, you can go for Zoom 4310 Bluetooth Adapter for less then US$40. Even when I used with 70 meter distance between PC and modem, it worked fine after that performance suffered. Part of that can be explained by presence of other 2.4 GHz devices like cordless phones in vicinity.

It doesnít ship with universal 110-220V power adapter like most digital camera charger and PDA bundle with. If you are globe trotting laptop user you will find yourself not being able to use it in every country. Also when you pair the modem with your PC, you have to enter a 4 digit code which is fixed and is printed on bottom of modem. You canít change the code since there is no keypad on modem. This makes security issue. Anyone within 100 meter of this modem and aware of code would be able to pair with your modem and use it without your knowledge. One solution is to scratch out security code printed on bottom of modem.

This modem can be switched to serial port modem from Bluetooth with toggle of switch and it will disable Bluetooth portion of modem to avoid misuse. But then idea of Bluetooth modem is that multiple computers in home or office should be able to access it just like we access shared printer on LAN today. Also it has serial port but it doesnít ship with serial cable to connect to PC.

At street price of US$74 it is certainly one of the most expensive dial up modem but there is no competition as of now as this is only Bluetooth modem available.

Vipul Shah

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