Feds find that reliability is in the cards

Government Computer News survey: network PC Cards

Ease of Use
and help

3Com Corp.

Compaq Computer Corp.  

Xircom Inc.

For Edward Hall, a systems administrator who brings home his notebook computer and
unwinds by cracking tough programming problems, the 3Com Corp. network PC Card has been a

“I like to be sure that the work I’ve done at home can be quickly downloaded
into the network and applied the next day,” said Hall, who tends the LAN at the
Government Printing Office in Pueblo, Colo. “In terms of reliability, it can’t
be beat.”

3Com’s network PC cards were rated No. 1 by federal users in GCN’s survey.
Cards from Compaq Computer Corp. were close behind, followed by network PC Cards from
Xircom Inc. of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Cards from 3Com Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., not only were rated the highest, but are
the most widely used by feds surveyed: 57 percent use them.

Cards from Xircom are used by 13 percent of feds surveyed; Compaq’s PC Cards came
in at third place, with only 6 percent of feds surveyed.

“I’ve used a number of different cards before the 3Com, and, suffice it to
say, this is both the most reliable and the most intuitive to use,” Hall said.
“Just plug her in, and away she goes.”

Hall uses a notebook PC made by Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. of Irvine,
Calif., and a 3Com 10/100 LAN PC Card.

Ease of use and reliability were also important attributes for Maj. Dennis Hayward, a
systems manager for the Air National Guard in Lincoln, Neb., a 3Com user.

“We’ve not had any compatibility problems. The card works with much of our
hardware, and it was quite easy to install and begin using,” Hayward said.

J.H. Okazaki, director of the Army’s Civilian Personnel Advisory Center in Pearl
Harbor, Hawaii, could find no room for improvement in his network PC Card from Compaq.

Okazaki gave the device high marks for reliability, speed, ease of use and price.

“We have no real complaints about the card,” he said. “It works in most
environments, and the speed is sufficient, so we’re happy.”

John Desmarais, an emergency service plans officer for the Civil Air Patrol in
Montgomery, Ala., also vouched for the reliability of his Compaq network PC Card. His only
complaint was that it was not as compatible as he would like.

“With some fiddling, we could make the card compatible with most systems, but on
the first run, we often had lots of fault errors when trying to network to other
machines,” he said.

To solve the problem, Desmarais’ Civil Air Patrol unit switched to Transport XKE
network PC Cards from Micron Computer Corp. of Nampa, Idaho.

Xircom network PC Card users gave the device middle-of-the-road ratings in all
categories, except reliability, where the product excelled.

“Reliability is what we need here for our mission,” said Steve Teller, a
product assurance engineer with the National Computer Security Center in Fort Meade, Md.

He said of the Xircom card, “We got it; it works.”

Teller, who uses a Xircom CreditCard Ethernet 10 + Modem 28.8, said the card was easy
to use, but he rated it average in speed, documentation and help.

Also problematic were the dongles, he said. Users had broken several and lost several

“They’re too small, and they’re too fragile. I think that next time we
will look for a model that is a bit more durable than the model that we have been using
thus far,” Teller said.

Petty Officer Harold Kelley at the Naval Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Fla.,
said he is pleased with the Xircom network PC Card.

“We teach Integrated Services Digital Network exchange courses to naval personnel,
and we travel quite a bit,” Kelley said.

“Since we spend so much time on the road, we need to be able to access the server
and be able to download information while we are at remote locations and when we return
home. The card helps us to do this.”

Kelley also described the device as user-friendly.

Kelley said that within several hours of getting the card, he was able to use it
without difficulty. “It’s true that I teach a fairly complicated course,”
he said.

“But I’m from the old Navy, and I look for technology that is easy to
understand and easy to use—Xircom does it for me,” Kelley said.  


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