The Mobile Computing Review of Kermit 95

Mobile Computing & Communications magazine printed a comparison and review of Kermit 95 with three other Windows 95/98/NT terminal emulation products in its November 1998 issue (Terminally Seeking Connection, Peter D. Varhol, pages 42-46). Unfortunately, many of the facts are wrong, and therefore also many of the conclusions:
"Only Kermit file transfer is built in"
XMODEM, XMODEM-CRC, YMODEM, YMODEM-g, and ZMODEM are also built-in and fully integrated.

"[It has a] dialer and telephone directory that comes with several predefined entries".
The dialer comes with over 200 predefined entries, and the telephone directories include thousands of numbers.

"It provides VT320, VT220, VT102, VT100, VT52, ANSI, and TTY terminal emulations."
There are also other 27 other emulations.

The source of these errors might be the original box cover from 1995, which was still used in 1998, but which, in the retail version, was updated with stickers showing the current version number, list of protocols, emulations, etc (the review copy lacked the stickers). But in any case, the reviewer should have looked at the documentation -- or at least the menu selections.

"Target user: Those who require basic terminal emulation and file transfer..."
We think our terminal emulations and file-transfer protocol implementations are advanced, fast, accurate, and more complete than most.

"Performance was adequate, primarily because of the program's use of the slow Kermit protocol".
K95's Kermit protocol implementation is as fast or faster than any other well-known file transfer protocol, but of course it is limited by the Kermit software on the other end of the connection, and by the protocol settings that are used (Kermit, unlike other protocols, allows itself to be adapted to a full range of connection types and qualities through a repertoire of settings). The reviewer did not identify the file transfer partner. Kermit protocol implementations that are not from the Kermit Project are almost always slow. When a good a Kermit implementation is not available on the other end, ZMODEM can be used; if ZMODEM is not available on the other end, YMODEM can be used, and so on. However, in most cases, an advanced, high-performance Kermit implementation is available from the Kermit Project for any host or service you are likely to connect to.

"While satisfactory for power users' basic needs, it runs out of gas quickly for more sophisticated uses."
More sophisticated than what? Full programmability using a high-level language that includes variables, arrays, block structure, scoping, macros, built-in and user-defined functions, recursion, and loops, allowing complete automation of any task that can be done by hand via scripts that are portable to hundreds of different platforms? Securely authenticated and encrypted network connections? Character-set translation encompassing many of the world's major writing systems? GUI configuration of unlimited numbers of dialup and network connections with hundreds of possible customizations for each one, and with one-touch access to each one? Controls for adaptation to nearly any kind of connection method and host in existence? A Web browser interface complete with URL hot spots? Ability to send both numeric and alpha pages? A two-million line scrollback buffer, with search and bookmark capabilities? A full range of printer and mouse functions? Unparalleled key mapping and keyboard customization? A compose key to allow entry of accented letters even with the USA keyboard driver? Built-in keyboard modes for entering Hebrew and Cyrillic characters on non-Hebrew, non-Cyrillic keyboards? Built-in keyboard modes for EMACS and Word Perfect? Full understanding of country codes, area codes, toll-free numbers, and PBXs, allowing dialing directories to be fully portable worldwide? Automatic dialing and redialing through lists of numbers until the call is answered? Automatic location-independent "cheapest-first" sorting of telephone numbers when dialing a list of numbers? A full range of client/server and file management functions that work with Kermit servers -- also from the Kermit Project -- on hundreds of different platforms? The most comprehensive, correct, and flexible Telnet protocol implementation available? A selection of network protocols that includes not only Telnet, but also Rlogin and LAT? Full compatibility with screen-reading, speech, and Braille devices? A host mode allowing remote access via dialup or Telnet without compromising the security of the PC? And so on... The reviewer did not cite examples of situations where Kermit 95 runs out of gas and the other packages do not.

There is a file-transfer performance bar graph that shows Kermit 95 the slowest of the four products, but there is no explanation of what they are measuring, or how, on what kind of connections, with what settings.

Kermit 95 / Columbia University / [email protected] / 14 Oct 1998