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Fax modems to the rescue.

A breakthrough in the electronic office volution is the smart fax machine. Industry leader, Ricoh Corp., in West Caldwell, N.J., has unveiled its intelligent facsimile system (IFS). The IFS acts as a PC fax server, with a high-speed modem--14.4 kilobits per second. This combination plain-paper fax machine, laser printer and scanner supports Windows.

Tired of waiting your turn at the office fax machine? Or maybe you've had it with incoming documents that seem to spew out endlessly--those 30-pagers that were probably better off in the overnight mail.

Relax. Your sanity can be restored--for a very affordable price. The fax tool of choice these days is the fax modem, a device that combines the features of a fax machine and a modem. Users can send documents directly from their computers to a recipient's fax machine, anywhere in the world. Not a bad idea, given that your offices totes up savings on both the cost of fax and computer paper.

The most appealing thing about fax modems, though, is their efficiency. With a modem, workers can sit at their desks and do multiple tasks, including sending faxes at the press of a button. Another bonus: Faxaholics need not wait until one job is complete before sending another document. Now that's increased productivity.

In fact, fax modems cut the amount of time that everyone in the office, from executives to secretaries, spends preparing the sending memos, reports, and general correspondence. Proof of their salt? According to the consulting firm BIS Strategic Decisions in Norwell, Mass., more than 2.5 million Americans are already hooked up to the devices. To date, fax modems constitute a $335 million industry, which experts say is growing.

Think you're a candidate for a fax modem? If the majority of the documents you f ax are created on a personal computer, the answer is probably "yes." Here's how to make sure you get the right product for your work environment.

Smart Shopping

Speed is the first priority when choosing a fax modem, according to experts. Why? Because you pay for your time over the telephone lines. Modems measure speed in bits per second or bps. Once upon a time, 2,400 bps modems were the rage--they were simple and efficient. Now 14,000 bps (or V.32 bis) is the top-selling modem type, because it will automatically downshift when it encounters a slower machine.

Another important decision is whether to by an internal or external modem. The internal is a circuit board that's inserted into the computer. The external modem plugs into a standard socket in the back of a personal computer. Tip: Even though an external modem costs more; it's much easier to install.

Fax Modems For Cost-Conscious PC Users

Fax modems currently sell for as little as $130. Since fax capability is so standard, it's difficult to find a modem without one. One prize modem catch is the Intel SatisFAXtion line from Intel Corp. in Hillsboro, Ore. On the low end is the Modem/100, ideal for the first-time buyer. At $129, it boasts an internal modem offering standard 2,400 bps line speed. Fax features include send/receive capability of 9,600 bps and 4,800 bps, respectively.

At the high end are the 400 and the 400e. The 400 (internal modem) supports data and fax send/receive lines at 14,400 bps. The 400e is an external modem that transmits at 9,600 bps. Both offer data compression. The 400 and 400e list for $499 and $549, respectively.

All Intel SatisFAXtions are bundled with the CROSSTALK Communications software and are compatible with Windows or DOS. Except for the model 100, which uses 2MB of hard drive space, the modems require 4MB.

Geared toward big businesses using a Novell Local Area Network is Intel's Net SatisFAXtion software. Anyone with a computer on the network can send faxes. The computer acts as a network fax server. Once Windows or DOS software is installed on each user's machine, literally every staff member's terminal functions as if it had a fax modem. The Net SatisFAXtion supports eight fax boards and up to 1,000 users per fax server. Additional features include phone books to store commonly used fax numbers, distribution lists and fax scheduling. The retail price is $995 for the 20-user version and $1,995 for 1,000 users.

If all you want to do is increase speed, try the $199 Connection 96+ from Milpitas, Calif.-based Digicom Systems Inc. This internal modem boasts the SoftModem technology that enables you to upgrade from whatever current speed you have to 14,400 bps. Say you initially purchased a 2,400 bps standard fax modem for home use or general correspondence, and now you want to engage in extensive on-line service use since business is booming. Well, you won't have to buy another modem, because you can zap in the upgrade (which is oten free), thereby creating a top-notch machine.

Digicom also manufactures the Scout, a 9,600 bps fax modem, in internal and external versions for $219 and @249, respectively. The ScoutPlus runs at 14,000 bps and retails for $289; it is available for both PCs and Macintoshes. The ScoutPlus for the Mac is available is an external version for $289. Added attractions include MNP 5 data compression with error control. Bundled software include WinFax LITE and DosFax LITE.

WinFax PRO 3.0 from Delrina Corporation is a Windows-based software program for the IBM and compatible computers. A neat feture: During installation, WinFax detects the type of fax modem you have and configures the appropriate files to work with your fax modem. Another advantage is that it enables you to preset the time you transmit a fax in the future. You can even define a group of people and send multiple faxes at the same time. Other features that makes WinFax PRO more competitive are new annotation and drawing tools that allow you to add artistic elements and text to a fax document. An enhancement mode assists you with on-screen editing, so you won't have to resend or retype the document.

WinFax PRO also features a comprehensive phonebook with automatic area code prefixing for nationwide and international calls. Since this is a standard dBASE file, you can have up to one billion entries. You can even import names from a previous phone directory. WinFax lists for $129.

If your office is already using the Cambridge, Mass.-based Lotus Development Corp.'s cc:Mail, the electronic messaging software, you can use Lotus's cc:FAX for cc:Mail ($1,995). Beware: cc:FAX can only send text messages, which means documents with graphics cannot be sent via fax modem. The traditional fax method is required. Client and others outside the company can still receive electronic messages on their fax machines.

Fax Modems For Macs

For Macintosh disciples, two favored fax modems are the Sportster 2400 MAC&FAX and the Sportster 14,000 MAC&FAX. Both are manufactured by the Skokie, Ill.-based U.S. Robotics, a leading modem maker. As its name implies, the 2400 supports data speeds of 2,400 bps. Listing for $199, it is packed with such features as auto-dial and auto-answer. The Sportster renders ultimate throughput; it supports V.42/MNP 2-4 error control and V.42/MNP 5 data compression. It also packs WinFax Lite fax software, so you can receive and send faxes while running other applications. The Sportster is available as both internal and external options. Priced at just $130 more is the 14,000 bps MAC&FAX, which gives you the same advantages just cited.

From the Albany, Ore.-based Supra Corp. is the Supra FAXModem. This external device offers fax scheduling and broadcasting as well as extras such as CompuServe's Information Manager. Both fax and data capabilities process 14,000 bps--all for $399.95.

Designed specifically for Apple's Powerbook is the Supra FAXModem 144PB. It features SilenceAnswer, which detects if an incoming call is fax or voice and selects the correct mode. But what's really dandy about this modem is that if you already subscribe to this telephone company feature, it allows you to access Caller ID. Your computer will automatically screen incoming faxes by displaying the information about the calls. Say you're waiting for another more pressing fax, then you can opt to refuse this call now and ask the sender to fax it later. The list price is $349.95.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:sending information on facsimile machines via computer and modem
Author:Reynolds, Rhonda
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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