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Hardware: Telecom/Network
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Chris Bourne


THE WS2000 modem from Miracle Technology has been a popular addition for the BBC for some time. Recently, however, it has received the coveted British Telecom approval so it can now be legally connected to the telephone lines. I wonder what users did with them before.

Spectrum users are now catered for as well with the aptly named ZX Interface and software which connects the computer to the modem. Unlike the VTX5000 the WS2000 offers a complete range of transmission and reception rates so it can be used to access other modems around the world.

Those rates are the standard 1200/75, used to access Prestel and Micronet 800, 75/1200 so you can pretend to be your own Prestel, 1200/1200 or 600/600 half and 300/300 full duplex.

As transmission standards vary it is normally set to CCITT V21, as used in Britain. Because of the BT regulations the CCITT V23 setting should only be used off-line to test equipment and the BELL 103/113/108 and BELL 202 settings can be used only if you remove a small pin.

The WS2000 can also have auto-dial and auto-answer boards fitted but neither the ZX Interface nor the software support them at the moment.

The interface plugs into the Spectrum user port and joins the modem via a cable. It has six switches on the back which are used to set the transmit and receive baud rates, which can be 75, 300 or 1200.

The software is remarkably easy to use. Once loaded from tape you are given seven options. The first is to enter your personal ID number; one of the other options is to make a back-up copy of the software and that would automatically save the ID with it. That SAVE is the one annoying feature of the software; it will only save to tape, although you can subsequently transfer it by hand to microdrive.

The other options are Viewdata mode, as used on Prestel; Teletype mode, as used on the 300/300 bulletin boards; the ability to change the transmission format from a wide selection; a frame processor and a Mailbox Editor.

Overall it is an impressive piece of software; it offers enough facilities for most applications, and could be easily used by someone with little, or no, experience. It is also remarkably short considering it contains the complete Prestel character set. The manual is helpful too, the only omission being a list of the Prestel characters.

The snag with all this is the price. The modem costs a whacking £149.44 and the ZX Interface a further £45.94. While this is possibly the only modem you will ever have to buy, considering the recent price reduction of the VTX5000, it is nevertheless too high.

If you want more information contact Miracle Technology (UK) Ltd, 10-12 St Peter Street, Ipswich IP1 1XB. Tel: 0473 51785.

Not Rated