Using a PC Card modem with a notebook is a good idea for people who travel. However, the problem for manufacturers is how to convince potential buyers that their product is ahead of others and also how to make it appear better value. The answer, it seems, is adding software. Buying a modem card is not unlike buying a modem these days: you get the device, a cable or two and usually some free startup software, such as CompuServe or America Online, and often some kind of fax software. One product on the market is the Motorola Montana 33.6 Modem/Fax Card, a high-speed PC Card for notebook computers designed for use with a cellular phone. However there have been some reports of difficulties. The real problem is that at the moment it is unrealistic to expect a mobile phone and a notebook to work perfectly together, not only because of software difficulties. In the first place, the Motorola manual says you should be in a stable environment when using this feature. In other words, any environment where the signal changes frequently - like a ferry or other moving vehicle - is likely to disrupt the connection. This makes sense because most software regularly checks to see if the signal is still there. If it disappears, the software may break the connection. Anyone with a cellular phone in Hong Kong knows that using it to send and receive data may not be a good idea. I have noticed that although the signal does not disappear on the Mass Transit Railway, it sometimes fades quite low. This would not be good for data connections where the signal's strength is of utmost importance to the data arriving safely. Using the Montana on a Hewlett-Packard Omnibook 800CT was simple the first time. The installation, as one had been led to believe with Windows 95, was automatic. That is, when the card was popped in, the system recognised it and ran the installation. Nothing could have been simpler. I also ran a telecommunications application and logged on to the Internet. The next time I tried to use the modem, the system told me to insert the modem card. This was difficult to do, however, because it was already inside. I tried dialling out and was told there was no dial tone. I killed the installation and reinstalled it. Again, no luck. Then I went on the Internet to download the Macintosh software and tried it on a Macintosh 3400 notebook. The installation went fine but, yet again, there was no dial tone. (To be fair to Motorola, I also tried it on an older Mac, the 1400c, and got the same result). In order to eliminate possibilities, I tried a few other cards that I have on both machines. Almost every card maker has a Web page on the World-Wide Web and I got hold of some newer drivers and experimented. The Macintosh eventually ran on a Dayna card with the first installation of new software. The HP never did run again, even though I tried three different cards. There are a number of lessons here, the most important of which is to buy the notebook and modem card from the same vendor. Let the vendor set it up and show you that it all works. I would strongly recommend a card that also serves as an Ethernet connection. Being able to plug straight into a network at the office or abroad adds considerable power to the system. As for mobile phones and notebooks, I should wait. There is still far too much confusion for it to be worth the bother at the moment.