The best bang-for-the-buck dial up modem I've used, believe it or not, is the Creative Modem Blaster. When I used to use a dial up, it would have better performance than my $80 3 com modem! And for 1/2 the price! (at the time, anyway, I have no idea what they go for now.
DSL or cable is obviously the best way to go, though!