Customer Review

90 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zoom 1, Comcast 0 - 5341J works out of the box, September 7, 2012
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This review is from: Zoom 5341 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem 5341J (Personal Computers)
While looking to rid myself of Comcast's rental (which I had shamefully paid for so many years), I read reviews here and decided on 5341J. All DOCSIS 3.0 models are priced similarly, but this one has that little advantage of potentially bonding 8 channels downstream instead of the normal 4. (Not that Comcast will allow you without your arm and leg.) Besides, the Cisco/Linksys model that I was actually looking to buy was too unproven, and Motorola's was, eh, SurfBored. But the deciding factor is the overwhelmingly positive experience shared here. The same positive experience that I am going to share.

So I got my Zoom, hooked the cables up, and ventured to the Web. Initially, Comcast's self-service activation had a problem (that the machine could not define) with my unit even though all lights were up correctly. Dreading to stay on the phone listening to elevator music, I opted to "Chat with an online expert." (Via the very modem connection.)

The agent asked me to read the MAC address even though their system should able to identify based on the chatting session, and added this unit to my account. (See the package picture for how to locate it.) Then told me that "I sent it a signal but it cannot receive." The "advice" for me? "Find a replacement device." Really? I had already viewed my unit's status Web page and determined that the device was working perfectly. I insisted to try again. Comcast - or the agent - failed again. Anywhere I browse landed on Comcast's activation page. "Find a replacement device." I gently suggested that the device couldn't possibly be defective because I was able to ping any Internet server (beside the fact that the very device was used in the chat). "I understand. But my advice is for you to find a replacement device."

Thanks but no thanks. After more than half an hour in live chat, I went back to the self-service page, and tried once more myself. Bling! No more problems. In less than 10 minutes I was online. All my Internet-dependent thingies including phone adapter and wireless router work perfectly with 5341J. So do not listen to any Comcast trained monkey who tells you that your 5341J will not work, especially if you can already go to their activation page. They just want to chain you to their aged rental unit. (Or they may have a plan to sell you their stock Motorola junk.)

In my side-by-side tests, Zoom 5341J is consistently faster than the Comcast rental (Motorola SB5101, which uses DOCSIS 2.0), both downstream and upstream. The speed difference is marginal not because 5341J is incapable, but because Comcast is throttling my speed to my pay level. ("Performance", I think, at 20Mbps, although I am able to get over 27Mbps with 5341J.)

The main body of 5341J is about the same size as SB5101's, but more elegantly designed. (Note the current Amazon picture shows a 5341H that has a curved front. This is an older model with only 4-channel bonding.) It has four rubber feet to stand flat, or you can use the shipped plastic stand to raise it upright, or you can mount it on the wall using the mount holes in its belly. (I had initially struggled to figure out the modem stand. So hope my upright pictures can save you from this trouble. It's a shame that neither the manual nor Zoom's Web site illustrates these features.) The power supply sports a newer slim design that easily fits in a single slot on a typical power bar. It looks day and night compared with SB5101's clumsy old design. (But the latter comes with a super long power cable. Not necessarily a plus but sometimes can be helpful.) The quick start guide is adequate (not that I needed it). But 5341J has the most bizarrely coded Web interface that I have seen in any such devices. Well, most people will never need to use this, so this defect has little impact.

Bottom line: Zoom 5341J is an solid, elegant product that is a perfect replacement for your cable co rental. (Yes it is said to be certified with all U.S. providers and many in other countries.) In addition to a nice upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 (and gigabit Ethernet - you'll need it if you pay their top rate), I am looking to recover the $80 that I paid last week (not sure why Amazon prices fluctuate as much as $10 in one week) in less than one year if I stick with Comcast - not that I have many choices. Do not let your cable co deceive you.

A final word? Do not buy a modem/wireless router combo. Wireless technology is evolving quickly, while your cable co will work very hard to make DOCSIS a stale standard. You don't want to get stuck when your neighbour has that shiny new wireless toy.
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