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ntddevsys
25-11-2003, 09:51 PM
What are peoples experiences with the X-press dial up thing on ihug that increses the speed of your dial up by up to 3 times?

Does it Work ?

Thanks In Advance

ntddevsys

whiskeytangofoxtrot
25-11-2003, 10:59 PM
Well aren't you in luck. I had to perform a quick review/test of this product just recently. The above is just an excerpt from the report I did, nothing is changed, doctored, altered for this post so it may not all be relevant:

iHug Express Test - 12/11/03

Test Platform: PC Co Windows 98 Machine; Lucent WinModem; IE 6.0
Comparisons: iHug Express compared with iHug on it's own, Paradise.Net and Actrix Dial-Up connections.

Installation:

Installation was smooth and straightforward. Installed cleanly on Windows 98 in a very short time, after the initial download. Only niggle with the installation is at the completion of installation when it went to test the service the program complained that no internet connection was available, however it had not asked for one at the outset, nor prompted a dial-up connection on completion.

Unsure how the installation will cope on Multi-User platforms such as Windows 2K, or more notably XP which a large number of our clients use, with multiple logins setup - will it install for all users?

Also there is no ISP specific badging of the program, it doesn't display iHug accelerator or similar anywhere, it purely displays as Propel Accelerator which removes the identity of the service somewhat.

On initial connection, the software asked for the ISP username and password - I wasn't entirely impressed with this either.

Use:

Due to the limited time I had available to test this product, I only used it on the standard installation settings.

On initial connection I performed a couple of quick Google searches - a marginal speed difference was noted, however probably not enough to be outside normal fluctuations. At this point the software was reporting a 4.9 times speed up of my connection.

After a bit more basic browsing around www.stuff.co.nz; www.nzoom.com; www.slashdot.org; www.theregister.co.uk the speed up rate settled at 2.1 times - browsing of the more graphics intensive web-sites such as www.nzoom.com was definitely noticably faster, however at a cost.

I decided to move on to a couple of heavily graphics intensive web-sites - basically pages loaded with large high-resolution images. One page in particular had taken me about 12 minutes to display on my Jetstart connection at home, so I was interested to see how the accelerator handled it. It was completed in a stunning 3 minutes flat, completely loaded, not an image missing. Unfortunately the speed was belied by the quality of the images. The jpeg artifact resulting from the image compression was horrendous - extremely high-resolution pictures were dropped to looking like scanned newspaper photos - extremely unimpressive.

The following is an example of the differences in image rendering - taken from Google's web-site.

Original Pic:

After iHug accelerator:

The quality difference is quite marked in these two photos, imagine this on a full size photograph with a much larger number of colours and tones you can begin to see the difference in image quality that could require pages to be reloaded when surfing for images.

Attempts to disable the accelerator to improve image quality became problematic, repeated refreshes, deleting IE's temporary files, and eventually rebooting the machine all failed to improve the image quality, leading me to believe it is still drawing the images from a cache somewhere.

Downloading files such as executables, zips etc was unaffected in any noticeable form - no faster than normal surfing.

On completion of a 45 minute browsing session the software proceeded to inform me that it had increased my internet speed on average 2.7 times - this is quite a believable figure, however personally the quality compromise did not seem to be worth it.

Miscellaneous Notes:

When dialled up to another ISP (Actrix, Paradise) the software did not function - images were left unchanged, browsing speed at normal, however the software still displayed it's usual diagonal arrows indicating data transfer. This could be misleading as it wasn't actually affecting the connection.

I am assuming image manipulation (resizing etc) is done on the fly, so the software requests images from a server, the accelerator server then grabs the images, compresses them, and forwards them on to the receiving PC. I see this requiring a rather powerful machine to manipulate potentially thousands of images a minute - just a thought.

Software does seem to leave some hooks in Windows, whilst attempting to refresh a Google page whilst using the iHug connection, the request died giving me a "Page cannot be displayed" error. Repeated refreshes, a disconnect and reconnect, connecting to another ISP all failed to resolve this - it required a reboot to resolve (assumptively clearing the W98 DNS cache or similar) which wasn't the best.

I could not get the software to disable whilst browsing, if a page was displayed with the lower-res images, if I disabled the software and attempted to refresh the page I would get "Page cannot be displayed" until I re-enabled the software - not good if one is wanting to get around the image compression to see the original unaltered image.

Overall

The average home user browsing sites that are text based will probably notice no major performance increase from using the software - sites such as www.stuff.co.nz which have a minimal amount of images were loading in respectable times both with and without the accelerator package.

If a user is browsing large number of graphics intensive web-sites such as www.nzoom.com, wallpaper sample sites, and other image plentiful sites, the increased speed is extremely noticeable, and actually makes quite a pleasant browsing experience on dial-up. Unfortunately for my personal tastes, the loss of image quality versus speed advantage was too great - I preferred the images without all the compression artifact.

whiskeytangofoxtrot
25-11-2003, 11:01 PM
Oh, just as an aside, I don't work for PC Co - that just happened to be the only unused machine lying around the office I could chuck 98 on.

JJJJJ
26-11-2003, 04:52 AM
Speed increase is marginal at best. I found there were several URL's I could not load. Click on them and an X appeared over the mouse pointer, and nothing else happened.
I have got rid of it.
Jack