PC Modems

How to Choose the Perfect PC Modem

A PC modem is required for Internet access, but with so many different types of modems to choose from, it can be hard to find the perfect model.

When searching for a PC modem to buy, consumers are faced with cable, DSL, wireless and wired modems. There are even router and modem combos that make things more confusing.

To make an educated purchase, consumers need to have a basic understanding of modem technology and how it works. It's also important to know what types of modems are currently available. Different situations call for different types of modem technology.

How Modem Technology Works

The majority of consumers are happy knowing that a modem is what they need to access the Internet, and they don't feel like they need any more information than that. However, all consumers should understand the basics.

Understanding modem technology can help consumers save money when choosing an ISP. Modems can serve as demodulators or modulators. In the beginning, modems modulated computer signals and sent them over telephone lines. However, modern modems actually modulate and demodulate signals, and they do it all so discretely that it's hard to believe they're doing anything.

PC Modems

Today's modems receive and send massive amounts of data across the Internet. When the first personal computers were released, almost everyone was familiar with the 56K modem.

It's hard to forget the obnoxious dialing sound that was blasted out of the 56K modem. It made it possible for consumers to connect to the Internet, and in some cases, it made it possible for a personal computer to be used for faxing.

Today's modems are connected to a cable or phone line, and they're considered standalone units. Routers are connected to these modems, which makes it possible for multiple devices to connect to the Internet.

Choosing a DSL or Cable Modem

Consumers have two main types of modems to choose from. There is the DSL modem, which stands for digital subscriber line, and there is the cable modem, which uses a network of cables.

When comparing these two types of modems, the main difference that users notice is speed. Consumers can purchase and activate a DSL modem in any location where there is a phone line. It's almost impossible to get cable Internet in rural areas.

Before buying a modem, consumers need to determine what service they have access to. Calling some local ISPs will make it easy to determine what service is available.

What Service is Faster?

Studies show that cable Internet is almost always faster than DSL. Both the high-end and low-end subscriber packages for cable are faster than the equivalent DSL packages. However, not all consumers have access to cable Internet because of location.

Combinations or Standalone Modems

When searching for a modem to buy, consumers can choose between router-modem combos or standalone modems. A number of consumers prefer the standalone modem, but router-modem combos have become very popular.

Consumers who live alone might want to go with a standalone modem because it's all they'll really need. The standalone modem simply converts the signal from an ISP to a signal that the computer understands, and normally, it uses a simple Ethernet cord to plug straight into a personal computer.

A router-modem combo is basically a modem and router that have been combined into a single device. A combo is great for families that need to share an Internet connection between multiple computers or devices. Consumers don't really need to understand networking specifics to make a purchase decision.

It's almost always best to purchase a modem from a source other than an ISP. At the end of the day, choosing a modem comes down to location, desired Internet speed, budget, and personal circumstances.