Wed, 15 May 1996 00:15:15 +0000

>1. There most definitely is a "new" V34 USR Sportster which represents
> a total, radical redesign over those V34 Sportsters which were the
> subject of the rave reviews in the magazines last year.
>2. This "new" V34 Sportster is currently in distribution with firmware
> eprom dates of:
> 09-19-95
> 10-13-95
> 10-18-95
> 01-11-96
> All of which have been observed to contain operational anomalies in
> various stages of evolution. The major bugs in 09-19, 10-13 and
> 10-18 firmware manifest themselves as interoperability and
> connectivity problems, ie, inability to connect without placing
> multiple attempts and a propensity to abort that connection once
> made. They also have been observed to simply freeze up when trans-
> mitting data. The freeze-up problem continues in 01-11-96 firmware.
>3. Users sending their "new" redesigned V34 Sportsters in for warranty
> repair recently report receiving their modem back with a firmware
> eprom date of:
> 03-04-96
> Which tho a significant improvement over prior firmware versions,
> still contains the intermittent FREEZE UP bug.
>4. USRobotics R&D is obviously aware of the issues in earlier firmware,
> as evidenced by the barrage of subsequent firmware "maintenance
> releases". They are also said to be aware of the "freeze up" matter
> and are reportedly working to address this nagging problem, although
> as of 04/11/96 wasn't fixed yet.
>5. MOST RECENTLY, USRobotics has ceased socketing the firmware eprom
> IC chip on the V34 Sportster and begun SOLDERING IT TO THE BOARD,
>6. The "new" V34 Sportster product can be identified on vendor's
> shelves by examining the 8th place of the 16-digit product serial
> number. External models containing the new circuit design begin
> with serial numbers either 00083901 or 00083902 where the "01"
> or "02" are the identifying characteristic. Internal models begin
> with serial numbers either 00084001 or 00084002. Again the "01"
> and "02" are the identifying characteristic. Prior design models
> which -do not- contain the above discussed operational anomalies
> contain a "0" in the 8th place, ie, 00083900 and 00084000. These
> product serial numbers are listed on the product end-flap and may
> be examined without opening the unit. INSTALLED modems may have
> their "i7" screen interrogated, ie, ATI7<enter> from any terminal
> program. The "new" designed units will display a CLOCK FREQUENCY
> of 92.0 Mhz. Prior designs use a 20.16 Mhz clock frequency. Also
> the ATI7 screen can be interrogated to read the firmware eprom
> date. Latest known firmware available carries the date 03-04-96.
>7. In my opinion, the USRobotics V34 Sportster product is not a
> recommended purchase at this time.

Also, many people have noted that its almost imposible to get in
touch with US Robotics support, and when you do, it takes month for a
new chip to arrive.
WARNING buyer beware!
(1) V34 Sporsters on the shelves today are
substantially different than those V34 Sportsters
that the magazine reviewers and testing labs spoke
so highly of last year.
(2)USR user groups on Compuserve, I-Link, RIME
and FIDO networks are buzzing with complaints of
"new" V34 Sportster dysfunction.
(3)V34 Sportsters of new design are now beginning
to appear in the marketplace with their firmware
eprom permanently soldered in place, eliminating
the customers's ability to replace the chip
(4)The V34 Sportsters tested by CONSUMER REPORTS
and highly acclaimed in the May 1996 issue of
Consumer Reports Magazine were last year's design
with a 20.16 mhz clock frequency. The "tested
version" of the product isn't available anymore,
in spite of the magazine article's being of recent
(5)The new (92Mhz-clocked) v34 Sportsters no
longer use an 80186 CPU chip. In fact, the CPU
is gone completely, having now been incorporated
into the DSP (data pump) chip.
(6)As supporting evidence of the major
differences in design, prior firmware cannot be
used in the "new" v34 Sportster nor can the
firmware from the "new" Sportster be used in the
earlier model.
(6)I returned my sportster!