SAN FRANCISCO (03/06/2000) - The thing about notebook PCs is that they're portable. And that can cause connectivity headaches, particularly when you link to a mobile phone.
In the office, you want to connect to the corporate local area network, whereas in a hotel it's a phone line, and on the run, a wireless phone. You must hassle with special cables to link a PC Card to a LAN or phone line. And it's even more complex if you travel internationally.
3Com Corp. claims to have solved virtually all of these problems in one fell swoop with the release of the 3Com Megahertz 10/100 LAN + 56K Modem CardBus PC Card. As the product name implies, it's both a LAN and a modem card, with a raft of special features.
The card retails for $269 and is compatible with Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000.
3Com's new PC Card has an illuminated, pop-out XJACK connector, which eliminates the need for special cables. You can plug in either a standard 4-pin RJ-11 cable (for a modem connection) or an 8-pin RJ-45 cable (for LAN access).
It has a single connector, and the card automatically senses the type of connection and confirms it with status lights.
In addition, the card works with most popular cellular phones, including units that rely on the Global System for Mobile communication, and automatically routes data to the handset without the need for reconfiguration, according to the company.
For international travelers, the 3Com Megahertz 10/100 LAN + 56K Modem CardBus PC Card provides WorldPort country selection software. With it, you can configure the modem for international phone lines by clicking on a flag or country name from a selection menu.
If you need a bit more speed and have ISDN access, 3Com offers an optional, external ISDN module ($120) for units that can take advantage of speeds up to 128 kilobits per second.