Calculus EZ-FAXit. (facsimile computer board) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Daniel Janal
Computerized faxing is becoming mainstream. So much so that Calculus, which specializes in network fax solutions, has introduced sophisticated models for home offices.
While the Calculus EZ-Faxit board and Windows software deliver beautiful graphics in a manner that's as easy to use as creating and printing documents, the price might make you think twice about the many advantages packed into this kit.
The version I tested carries a $299 list price for 4800-bps fax and Windows software. The company's 9600-bps fax kit costs $499. These prices compare unfavorably to the $169-$279 price range found for comparable fax cards at two computer stores in my area--and those prices include 9600-bps fax and 2400-bps modem. Calculus does not have a modem--a distinct disadvantage, since you have to dedicate a phone line to the fax and give up a card slot to a modem so you can use your autodialer and online services.
The EZ-FAXit half-width card has two coprocessors that can send and receive faxes in the background, so you can work without interruption--a major advantage.
Installing the half-width card couldn't be easier. EZ-FAXit prevents headaches by automatically configuring itself during software installation. This is an advantage, because if you incorrectly set switches on other fax boards, not only will the fax not work, but other devices will also fail.
Using EZ-FAXit is also simple. Unlike other programs that require you to convert files to ASCII, exit your application, and load their fax software, EZ-FAXit works completely inside your application. For instance, if you create a document in Microsoft Word for Windows and select Print, a pop-up menu asks for the recipient's name and phone number. You can type it or select information from a phone directory which can hold an unlimited number of names. You can also select when to dial, saving money by scheduling phone calls during low-rate periods. Moreover, you can broadcast faxes to groups of colleagues, thus eliminating the need to re-create faxes or wait through the conversion process. These high-end features begin to justify the price of EZ-FAXit.
People who have received my faxes say the 24-point Times Roman fonts and boxes printed beautifully. This is a major advantage over other fax boards that strip out your formatting to present legible yet bland displays of information, usually in 10-point sans-serif type.
EZ-FAXit sends faxes in the background, so you quickly get back control of your machine to work on other projects. It even has clever sound effects: A successful fax yields a sound like Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill; a failed transmission sounds like you gave the wrong answer on a TV game show.
The board also receives faxes automatically. This is a bonus I appreciate when I think of colleagues who must demand prior notice so they can set up their machines to receive faxes.
EZ-FAXit does have problems. A graphics-heavy fax refused to print on my Hewlett-Packard LaserJet III. Received documents can't be easily viewed onscreen. Transmission takes about two minutes per page. And EZ-FAXit appears on your cover sheet, detracting from your company's image.
I wouldn't let those problems overwhelm the program's other worthwhile qualities, however. It may not be perfect, but EZ-FAXit is easy to install and use, and it delivers crisp graphics.
CALCULUS 1761 W. Hillsboro Blvd. Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-1530 (305) 481-2334
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