Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 151 / APRIL 1993 / PAGE 114

Eclipse FAX. (communications software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Alfred C. Giovetti

Some of the most exciting products available today are Windows-based fax software, which in Windows enhanced mode can operate invisibly in the background without taking up valuable free RAM. Revolutionary features are being added to the top fax programs daily, making the volumes of recent reviews that compare these features useless. By the time the articles with comparison grids are published, the software features have changed so much that the comparisons are inaccurate.

One of the most interesting of the industry leaders in Windows fax software is Eclipse FAX, from Eclipse Systems, a new company. The onscreen, antialiasing, "clear view" feature, unique to Eclipse FAX, allows you to preview fine-print faxes without printing them by filling in the rough edges in the fax image displayed on the screen, and even on the printed image.

By setting the Windows printer up as Eclipse FAX and printing from any Windows application, faxing is as easy as printing. Selecting Print will pop up the Eclipse FAX Send Fax window, allowing you to select the fax number and recipient from the Eclipse FAX phone book, enter a new number into the program and phone book, add a cover sheet, schedule send time, and send the fax or save the fax to a file.

By loading a macro with Word for Windows, you can send a fax to a name within the Word document by cross-referencing to the phone book, using the dynamic data exchange feature of Windows. The macro automatically sets the Windows printer to Eclipse FAX prior to sending the fax and restores the default printer after the fax is sent, saving you the trouble of changing printer driver installations every time you send a fax. Unfortunately, this automatic feature only applies to Word for Windows.

Optical character recognition (OCR) allows you to edit incoming faxes and store them as text, which is 10 percent of the storage space required for fax image files. Eclipse FAX data compression of image files saves more disk space on saved image files. The OCR feature is accurate, fast, and versatile, recognizing a wide variety of text fonts, and it has a learning routine that can be used to teach the program additional fonts. The original bitmap of the faxed document can be revealed to help verify OCR accuracy.

Previewed fax documents can be edited and returned to the sender or forwarded to other fax numbers without printing the faxes and scanning them again. You can draw circles or ellipses on the onscreen fax image and type messages with any of the Windows fonts right from the fax-editing toolbar. Toolbar utilities include Cut, Paste, Copy, Append, Find, and Replace.

Eclipse FAX is compatible with Class 1, Class 2, and communications application specification (CAS), but not Send-fax or FAXBios modem control standards. Eclipse FAX supports transmission speeds from 2400 to 14,400 bps. Faxes can be sent immediately or scheduled for a different time, to one recipient or a group of recipients, from an unlimited number of phone books with a maximum of 16,000 entries per phone book.

Eclipse FAX has its own text editor, composes a full-or half-page cover letter, allows for a signature or logo to be added from a scanned image, and supports the use of a second sheet behind the cover letter. The Thumbnail View, available while editing, sorts and organizes multiple-page fax transmissions into one file which can be saved and sent later, rather than the file-per-page method used by other software.

Eclipse FAX has added some vital features in version 1.2, such as compatibility with Class 1 modems and 200-cps OCR support. Onscreen fax editing, an advanced file conversion utility, ease of use and installation, ultrafast processing (almost all tasks are performed much faster than with other packages), a revolutionary and extensive file index and sorting feature, and other advanced features mark Eclipse FAX as a new leader in the fax features race.