Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 154 / JULY 1993 / PAGE S1

Computer faxing: how to choose and use a fax modem. (includes glossary) (Compute's Getting Started With)

To send computer faxes, you need a fax modem. In today's market, it's silly to buy a data modem that won't also send faxes, even if you have no particular need for faxing at the moment. For as little as $20 extra, you get the fax capability. Reliable fax modems can be had for less than $100.

Even though fax modems are becoming more prevalent, you can't count on being able to buy a fax modem, plug it in, load some fancy fax software, and have it all work. It might happen that way, but often it's more complicated.

Yes, there are widely accepted standards for fax technology as well as computer-to-fax-modem communication, as explained in the accompanying article "Computer Fax Formats." The Group 3 standards make fax machine to fax machine communication a no-brainer. The Class 1 or CAS standards, however, do not provide the same degree of effortless standardization.

This new technology is not yet mature. The standards leave room for interpretation and differences in implementation. Some major modem makers, such as U.S. Robotics, have decided that their way is better than the standard. New modems appear regularly needing new initialization strings, which are rarely spelled out in the documentation. It can be confusing and frustrating.

That's the worst case.

On the positive side, every fax modem we looked at can be set up to use the bundled software with relative ease. They also function admirably as data modems; we were able to contact MCI Mail, GEnie, CompuServe, and several local BBSs, using Procomm Plus and Procomm for Windows software.

Problems arose, however, when we tried to use third-party fax software to go beyond the bare-bones capabilities of the software that comes with the modems. More often than not, this involved calls to the tech support staffs of the fax software developers, the modem manufacturers, or both. In most cases, the problems were worked out--eventually.

Before buying, carefully consider the features of the bundled fax software, because you may not be able to use the feature-filled third-party software immediately. If your faxing needs are modest, you may not need to go beyond the bundled software, but you'll usually be giving up ease of use, fax management features, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

Choosing a Fax Modem

Given the caveats above, a fax modem is still a tremendously useful tool that you shouldn't be without. Selecting one can be a daunting task, as there are literally hundreds available. Here are some general principles to help you choose.

* Internal vs. external modems. Internal modems plug into a slot inside your computer, while external modems connect with your PC through a cable to a serial port. Externals generally cost a little more (for the box and built-in power supply) and occupy desktop space. On the other hand, they can be easily switched between computers and have indicator lights to help you see what's going on.

Internal modems may be faster--they aren't limited by the hardware constraints of the serial port--but setting them up can be like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, especially if you have other add-in boards in your PC. You may have to fuss with DIP switches and jumpers to straigten out DMA channel and IRQ conflicts.

Internal modems don't monopolize a serial port and can offer features not available in externals, such as smart answering, which automatically detects the difference between incoming voice, data, and fax calls, and voice processing.

* Speed. Buy the fastest fax modem you can afford, especially if you do much data transferring. The time you save can be significant. Most modems quote their speed for data first and for faxes second. The practical minimums today are 2400 bps for data and 9600 bps for faxing. Don't worry that your modem will be incompatible with slower modems that you may be calling--modems work at the highest common speed.

* Error correction and data compression. As you move into the higher speeds, modems feature error correction protocols and data compression systems. Error correction ensures the accuracy of data transmission, while data compression schemes allow faster throughput. (These are data transfer matters that do not affect the transmissions.)

* Advanced fax software. If you plan to use advanced fax software, consider a major brand name that the software is sure to support.

* Extras. Finally, consider going beyond a normal fax modem. For not much more money, you can get modems that offer automatic call switching and voice mail.

We tested several high-end, fast fax modems. Unless otherwise stated, all of these fax modems are Class 1 modems and support V.32bis (14,400 bps), V.42 error control, V.42bis data compression, and MNP 5 data compression.

Zoltrix 144/144e

This elegant little fax modem is only an inch or so larger than most portable modems, yet it has the features and lower price of a larger desktop modem. Installation is a snap. It uses the Hayes command set, making it compatible with any telecommunications software.

The Zoltrix comes with BitCom datacom software and BitFax/SR for DOS fax software, a capable if unimaginative fax program. Because it's not a major brand, you won't find Zoltrix in the list of modems supported by WinFax Pro and other fax software, making it necessary to work out the modem initialization string and a few other details before things mesh.

The external version features an unusual voice/data switch to bypass the modem temporarily while maintaining the connection. When you answer the phone and hear a fax signal, you simply hit this switch to kick in the modem and receive the fax.

At $299, the Zoltrix 144/144e is a real steal. Unlike most modems, it even includes the necessary serial cable.

(Zoltrix Sales Department; 510-657-1188; external: $299, internal: $249.)

Hayes Smartmodem OPTIMA 144 + FAX 144

The OPTIMA 144 + FAX 144 comes in an industrial-looking metal case with an average footprint and large, easy-to-see indicator lights. It installs quickly and works with virtually any telecommunications software. Its bundled Smartcom FAX software is a relatively light-weight DOS fax program that's not at all easy to use. You'll probably want to replace the software if you do much faxing.

The OPTIMA modem is better than average at working with substandard phone lines and has outstanding technical support available on toll-free lines and through CompuServe. Its two-year warranty extends to five years if you register it within 90 days.

The lower-speed 9600 bps OPTIMA 96 + FAX 96 sells for $419; the OPTIMA 24 + FAX 96 (2400 bps data and 9600 bps fax) sells for $169. Both provide V.42 and V.42bis for faster throughput.

(Hayes Microcomputer Products; 404-441-1617; external: $519.)

Practical Modem 14400FXSA V.32bis

Practical Peripherals has just upgraded its Practical Modem (PM) 14400FXSA to include both Class 1 and Class 2 operation and to support 14,400 bps fax transmission. It's an unusual-looking but attractive beast, standing upright 5 inches tall, 3 inches wide, and 10 inches deep. Its footprint is smaller than traditional flat modems, but it won't fit in vertically confined spaces. Its easily readable 12-character LCD readout on the front panel displays messages such as "Compress ON" or "V.32bis" to tell you what it's doing.

It's bundled with QuickLink II datacom and fax software, a capable mid-range product that includes a phone book. Technical support is available from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and regular hours on weekends. Calls are not toll-free. You also can receive support through CompuServe and a company BBS. All Practical Peripherals products have a lifetime warranty.

(Practical Peripherals; 800-442-4774 or 805-497-4774; external: $549, internal: $499.)

U.S. Robotics Sportster 14,400 Fax

Not long ago, U.S. Robotics revamped its modem line, cut its prices, and began shipping Delrina's WinFax LITE with its fax modems.

The resulting Sportster 14,400 Fax modem is a powerful communications package stuffed into a box only slightly larger than a double deck of playing cards.

The new external modem case includes a bank of seven indicator lights and an easy to find, top-mounted on/off switch.

The inclusion of WinFax Lite makes setting up fax operations for Windows users a breeze, but those who need DOS fax software will have to send in a card for a free copy of U.S. Robotics' Blast Fax program.

This packs puts a lot of fax and data communications power on your desk at a very competitive price.

(USRobotics: 800-342-5877; internal: $259; external; $299.)

Supra SupraFaxModem V.32bis

The SupraFaxModem V.32bis is an attractively small unit with unusual features at a good price. Its front panel includes a two-digit display for codes that tell you details about your connection and the protocols in use. It includes a serial cable and better-than-average documentation. A booklet on typical compatibility problems was clear and helpful.

You can buy the SupraFaxModem in either a DOS or Windows version...only the software bundle is different. The Windows version comes with WinFax Lite, Delrina's excellent streamlined version of WinFax Pro. You won't get all the WinFax features, but you'll get substantially more than normal for bundled fax software. The DOS version includes FaxTalk Plus, also a slightly stronger program than most.

Our test unit came with two chips, a screwdriver, and instructions for upgrading the modem's chip set to include Caller ID, silent answer, and several other advanced features. Silent answer lets your modem stay dormant in the phone circuit until it detects a fax tone, when it takes over the connection. Swapping chips is always worrisome, but the instructions made it easy.

The SupraFaxModem is a first-class package, with every base covered. The hardware, the software, the instructions, the five-year warranty, and the price are all first-rate. It's hard to beat.

(Supra Corporation; 800-285-8772 or 503-967-2400; external: $439.95, internal: $349.95.)

Zoom VFX V.32bis

The Zoom VFX V.32bis supplies all the necessary features in an attractive standard-sized flat modem case for a better-than-reasonable price. Because of its compliance with both Class 1 and Class 2 specifications, Zoom claims this modem will connect with any fax machine in the world. It probably will.

Its bundled software is above average, offering both WordPerfect's MTEZ Standard with ExpressFax for DOS and WinFax Lite for Windows. Both provide fax management functions including scheduling and phone books.

Zoom offers a seven-year warranty but limits its tech support to weekday East Coast business hours--even though a lot of modem use occurs after hours. Zoom's V.32 fax modem (9600 bps) sells for $399. (Zoom Telephonics; 800-631-3116 or 617-423-1072; external: $419.)

Intel SatisFAXtion Modem/400

We reviewed an internal version of this modem because it had capabilities not available in the external version. The SatisFAXtion Modem/400's Smart Line Sharing intelligently distinguishes between voice and modem calls, passing voice calls through to your regular phone or answering machine. In addition, it has a unique on-board microprocessor that adds data buffering to keep high speed data flows from being lost when operating in the back-ground.

The SatisFAXtion 400 uses Intel's CAS communications standard, which is common enough that most fax software supports it. The bundled FAXability Plus Windows software, also an Intel product, is made for Intel's modems (as well as other manufacturer's fax modems), so there's no problem with setup. FAXability Plus is a full-fledged fax management program with advanced features.

The documentation is extensive and excellent; you won't have any trouble installing and configuring the board. Its manual for troubleshooting exposes a few more problems than you would hope for, but provides detailed instructions for fixing them. The worst problem is that PCX files must be an exact multiple of 32 pixels wide to translate into fax format successfully--an unreasonable constraint.

With a three-year warranty, advanced hardware features, and better than average software, the SatisFAXtion 400 is a good choice--particularly for faxing.

(Intel; 800-538-3373 or 503-629-7354; external: $499, internal: $499.)


Computer faxing is a technical jungle. It uses telephone technology to tie together three essentially separate electronic devices: personal computers, modems, and fax machines. Since each device was developed by a separate group at a different time for its own purposes, it's a miracle that they work together at all. One of the unfortunate side-effects of this merging of technologies, however, is that you must learn at least a little of the techno-speak from each technology to understand what's going on. It's a overgrown forest thick with arcane acronyms, numeric standard designations, and even abbreviations for French technical terms.

With this article and the accompanying "Computer Faxing Glossary," we'll try to give you an informational machete to clear a path through the jungle of jargon. Pay attention, though; this isn't an easy undertaking.

The difference between Group and Class designations is usually the most difficult to grasp.

Group Therapy

Group designations are fax machine standards set by Switzerland's CCITT (Comite Consultatif International Telegraphique et Telephonique), the Geneva-based body that governs international telecommunications and data communications standards. Group standards cover file conversion methods and transmission speeds used in faxing over ordinary voice-quality telephone lines.

Groups 1 and 2, defined in the 1960s and 1970s, are long obsolete. Group 3, the current international standard, provides for transmitting fax data at 9,600 to 14,400 bits per second (bps). At these speeds, a typical page is transmitted in 30 to 60 seconds. In standard mode, a Group 3 fax device uses a resolution of 200 dots per inch (dpi) horizontally by 100 dpi vertically. In fine mode, it increases to 200 by 200 dpi, but takes longer to transmit.

It's downright difficult to buy a fax device that isn't Group 3-compatible now, but Group 4, which provides for faster speeds through additional data compression, is in the works. Group 3 fax modems usually can connect with older Group 1 and 2 fax machines.

Go to the Head of the Class

Class designations are a little trickier. Classes are fax modem standards set by the Electronic Institute Association (EIA); they control how the computer talks to the fax modem.

Class 1 modems respond to a set of six commands from the computer, leaving most of the work of formatting and controlling the fax transmission to the computer, rather than the modem.

Class 2 includes 40 standard commands, using the fax modem's intelligence to do more of the work, freeing up the computer itself for other tasks. The EIA hasn't yet approved the Class 2 specifications and may yet revise them. Nevertheless, you can buy Class 2 fax modems based on the proposed standard.

Class 3 will move file conversion itself to the modem for even more efficient operation, but EIA approval is years away.

So far, it's not too difficult to handle the Group and Class designations. The problem arises with the addition of another standard for the computer to fax modem interface--CAS (Communicating Application Specification). Intel Corporation, working with DCA, another telecommunications company, developed CAS in 1988. Although this standard has not been approved (nor even considered) by any international standard-setting body, Intel's powerful influence in the industry makes this a valid contender. Intel's own modems use CAS, as do modems from some other manufacturers.

Class Struggles

When installing fax software, you'll need to know whether your fax modem uses a Class 1, Class 2, or CAS interface. (Some fax software requires extra steps during installation to work with a CAS modem.)

All of the modems we mention in our accompanying article use either the Class 1 or CAS standard, though several also claim Class 2 compatibility. And, of course, they're all Group 3 compatible.

Manufacturers don't always clearly state the modem's class, which can lead to confusion and frustration when things don't work right out of the box. In view of all this, it's generally safe to assume any fax modem is a Class 1 device unless it says otherwise, except for Intel modems, which use CAS. It's primarily the Class 1 modems that don't bother identifying their class.


Computer faxing requires both a fax modem and special fax software. Fax modems come with bundled software that handles plain-vanilla send and receive operations, but if you want to take advantage of dozens of attractive and useful features that make computer faxing convenient and fun, you'll need to buy an advanced fax software package.

Computer faxing is still a new technology with many compatibility problems as yet unsolved, but the recent releases of new-generation fax software are proving to be explosively popular.

The Basics

To send a computer fax, you create a document on screen with any program you wish. Instead of sending the document to your printer, you send it to the fax software, which converts the document to a standard-format graphic image file. In effect, your document is no longer a combination of text and graphic elements, but a single picture of the entire page. This image is what the fax transmits.

An incoming fax is a similar image file. A standalone fax machine automatically converts the image to printable dots and prints it. Receiving a fax with your PC gives you new options. You can still print it immediately, but you also can view it on screen, never bothering to actually print it. You can add annotations by marking up the fax image on your screen and then print the altered image or fax it back out.

These new options are wonderful, but there's a downside. The file you've received is an image, not text. If you want to edit the text or use the data in any way, you have to somehow convert the image back into text. If you need the data, you're much better off receiving the file as ASCII text or in its native format through an E-mail service (using the same modem that received the fax). If that option isn't available, however, all isn't lost. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software (usually included with your fax software), you can convert the image back to text. This isn't an easy or reliable process, however, so use it as a last resort.

New Features

The current versions of fax software can really speed up your fax output and take better control of the faxes you send and receive daily. Maintaining a computer directory of fax recipients relieves you of looking up fax numbers, dialing the number, and redialing when the target fax machine is busy.

Scheduling allows you to queue up your faxes for delivery at a later hour when long distance rates are lower and your phone line is in less demand. Broadcasting lets you automatically send the same information to a list of recipients.

Fax management features track incoming and outgoing faxes, compress fax image files for more efficient storage, and organize your fax archives. Annotation lets you mark up incoming faxes and send them back out. Page previewing with variable sizing lets you see on screen exactly what the outgoing fax will look like.

Scanner support allows you to scan in images--whole documents or logos for your letterhead, for example--which can be used in outgoing faxes. Screen cleaning and image enhancement functions can remove extraneous marks and clean up fuzzy lines and text on faxes you receive.

The Windows Advantage

Almost all the exciting new fax programs are Windows applications. Windows offers overwhelming advantages that DOS applications can't match. For instance, to print faxes, DOS software generally has to have a TSR (a terminate-and-stay-resident program that stays in working memory even when it relinquishes control of the screen and computer to other programs). This TSR intercepts output that would normally go to the printer. To receive faxes, another TSR has to be running all the time. These programs eat up as much as 80K to 100K of precious memory, although some can be loaded into upper memory.

Windows fax software sets up a printer driver that sends the output to the fax software and the modem. To send a fax, you merely select the fax print driver from a list of possible printers and tell your application to print the file. The fax software steps in, asks you for the phone number (which you usually can select from an on-screen directory list), and sends the fax.

Windows also lets you print using TrueType and any other Windows fonts you may have available. DOS fax software typically sends your documents out looking as though they were printed on an Epson dotmatrix printer. (Some DOS applications also offer HP LaserJet emulation.) Finally, with Windows applications, creating documents that mix graphics and text is much easier. Many DOS programs do an inferior job of translating graphics into an outgoing fax.

Making the Choice

The most important issues in choosing fax softwares are ease of installation and adaptability to your modem. Sometimes it takes a few phone calls to tech support to get help with configuring the software to work with your specific fax modem.

WinFax Pro 3.0

According to Delrina, more than 1 million fax modems of 5 million fax modems use WinFax. The new version 3.0 is selling at an incredible rate. This is one hot product.

WinFax Pro, a Windows program, sports a clean and logical look and feel and offers all the new-generation features mentioned above. It supports Class 1, Class 2, and CAS modems and includes Caere's new AnyFax OCR program that uses neural network technology to increase speed and accuracy.

Fax management lets you sort and search for faxes by description, date, time, destination, keywords, and transmission status. You can identify faxes quickly by browsing multiple thumbnail views of faxes on file. Archived faxes are compressed using Group 4 standards to an approximate 25:1 ratio.

Phone books are kept in standard dBASE file format, allowing you to read them with many other programs, and can be sorted and searched multiple ways.

WinFax Pro comes with 101 pre-designed cover sheets, including many humorous cartoons created just for this program. Best of all, Delrina provides a printed booklet showing all the covers so you don't have to browse through them on the screen. WinFax's popularity is well deserved.

(Delrina Technology; 800-268-6082 or 408-363-2345, 416-441-3676 in Canada; $129.)

Eclipse Fax with OCR Version 1.21

Another Windows product, Eclipse Fax also supplies all the latest features. Its strong fax management abilities center around a 50-character index field that you assign to each fax you receive or send. Another several-line descriptive field can be added. These fields make it child's play to store, group, and find faxes anywhere on your hard disk, where they are stored in the highly compressed Group 4 format.

Eclipse Fax displays stored faxes faster than other programs and shows you a whole multi-page fax at a time in a series of thumbnail pages. A powerful graphics editor lets you design cover sheets and annotate faxes at any time. Its OCR module from Ocron is faster than similar products, but is no better at reading low-quality faxes than the competition.

Eclipse Fax is a lean program, requiring only 1.8 MB of hard disk space, making it an excellent candidate for laptop use.

(Eclipse Systems; 800-452-0120 or 312-541-0260; $149.)

UltraFax 1.10

Also a Windows product, UltraFax brings the considerable graphics editing talents of ZSoft--makers of PC Paintbrush and Publisher's Paintbrush--to bear on fax software. It offers extensive support for scanners and can send a fax directly from a scanner.

Unique features of UltraFax include the ability to attach a data file to a fax sent to another UltraFax-equipped fax modem and a zoom function that displays fax images at any magnification from 10 to 600 percent.

A disturbing note is that UltraFax, according to the documentation, can't be run from a compressed drive. With the potential popularity of DOS 6's built-in compression, this limitation may cripple an otherwise excellent program.

(ZSoft; 800-227-5609 or 404-428-0008; $119.)

FaxMaster 1.01

Caere is one of the two leading makers of OCR software for the PC. FaxMaster, another Windows application, includes the new AnyFax technology, using neural network-based artificial intelligence. The company is extravagant in its claimed effectiveness of the OCR process on standard-mode transmissions, but it's right that it does a better job than the competition--it just isn't good enough yet. Standard-mode transmissions from well-used standalone fax machines are beyond the abilities of any OCR software at the moment.

FaxMaster's fax management features are adequate, with a few above-average features thrown in. It automatically displays thumbnail views of your last six faxes and features proprietary SuperCompression up to a claimed 33:1 ratio.

FaxMaster supplies a series of macros that automatically add "Send Fax" to the File menus of Word for Windows, WordPerfect for Windows, Ami Pro, and Excel.

FaxMaster is a top-notch OCR program for faxes with a good set of faxing tools added.

(Caere: 408-395-7000; $249.)

FAXability Plus/OCR

FAXability Plus--without the OCR--is now bundled with all Intel fax modems. Both versions are Windows programs that handle the basic send and receive functions admirably, but lack some of the advanced functions. The OCR is from Calera, another major OCR developer.

If you have an Intel modem, this software is guaranteed to work with your modem without a hitch. It also has been fine-tuned to work with about two dozen specific fax modems. If your modem is on the list, this is great basic software. If it isn't, configuring the modem can be a problem.

(Intel; 800-538-3373 or 503-629-7354; $249; FAXability Plus: $79.)

DosFax Pro

In a world of Windows programs, here's hope for DOS users. DosFax Pro is Delrina's companion product to the ultra-popular WinFax Pro. It loads two TSR programs, one to capture outgoing faxes and one to receive faxes. Together they use 82K of RAM, but can be loaded high.

DosFax emulates Epson and HP LaserJet III printers, giving your output more than ordinary font and graphic capabilities. It has a robust phone book that holds as many as a thousand entries, but it has few fax management features and no OCR.

A good DOS alternative, DosFax Pro is also useful as a companion to WinFax. It runs itself when you come out of Windows, so you never lose the ability to send and receive faxes.

(Delrina Technology; 800-268-6082 or 408-363-2345, 416-441-3676 in Canada; $79.)

MTEZ Complete with ExpressFax

MTEZ is a data communications product, to which you add modules for additional functions. The Complete version includes all the modules plus ExpressFax, a DOS-based background fax manager. Even if you have another datacom program, you'll need MTEZ on your drive for ExpressFax to work.

ExpressFax supports Class 1, Class 2, and WorldPort modems. It has a 200-name phone book that holds only eight groups. There's no fax management other than deleting or moving fax files. There's also no OCR or fax image editing.

Its strength lies in effective background operation in DOS. It sends and receives faxes using a background TSR that has little effect on the foreground operations. It's also easy to set up and use. ExpressFax is a good choice for a DOS user who doesn't need the fax management frills.

(WordPerfect; 800-451-5151 or 801-225-5000; $119.)


A fax is an image, a picture of a piece of paper. If you receive it directly into your computer through a fax modem, what you have is an image file, not a file of text characters. This is great if all you need to do it read the information or print it and file it. It's not so great if you need to use that information in your computer. To edit the words or use them in another document or spreadsheet, you must convert the image into computer-usable text.

You have two choices. As unappealing as it sounds, the first choice is to manually retype the information. In many cases, this will be the best choice.

The second choice is to let the computer have a stab at converting it automatically through Optical Character Recognition, or OCR. Special OCR software is required; most of the newer fax software packages include an OCR module.

How OCR works

A fax image file is a bitmap image, a pixel-by-pixel map of the picture of the page being faxed. Each pixel is coded either black or white. An OCR program analyzes the bitmap to isolate small groups of black pixels surrounded by white space that might be text characters.

There are two basic methods for the OCR program to recognize and translate text. In pattern or matrix matching, it compares the unknown character pixel-by-pixel to a table of character bitmaps that it has previously memorized. If the fax is in a font and size that the program knows, it'll get most of the characters right--if the image is clear enough.

Then the work really starts. Feature extraction uses a series of algorithms to analyze the unknown fax characters. It examines a line of text to identify the baseline, determines how high the lower and upper case characters go, and picks out descenders and ascenders. Then it analyzes characters using the general-shape information it has on letters. If it sees a character with an enclosed round shape and a descender on the left, the program identifies it as a lower case p. As the program learns the new font, it picks up speed.

There inevitably will be characters that the technology can't identify. Usually the program inserts a marker, such as a tilde or pound sign, to warn you that there's something it couldn't translate. The best OCR programs then go on to check the spelling of the document using a special spelling checker designed to catch mistakes that often arise in OCR work. Many of the unknown characters will yield to the spelling checker.

Finally, you review the translated document, replacing remaining unknown characters by hand. Good OCR programs show you the bitmaps of the unknown characters as you work.

How Accurate Are the Results?

Just how accurately do OCR programs convert fax documents? Under ideal conditions, the best you can hope for is a 97- to 99-percent accuracy. Think about that--one to three errors per hundred words. At 400 words per average typed page, that's four to twelve errors per page you have to ferret out and fix by hand. Not all of them are obvious.

You'll get the best results when the fax is sent using fine mode from another fax modem. A fine mode transmission from a standalone fax machine in less than tiptop condition can be successfully converted, but the error rate will be higher. A standard mode transmission from any machine won't work, in spite of the claims of some of the OCR developers. Sure, you can convert it, but at best, you'll end up with a 10 percent error rate, making manually retyping the document the quicker option.

You'll have better luck if the fax uses 12-point Courier or another non-proportional font. Sans serif fonts such as Helvetica are easier to convert than curlicueladen fonts such as Times Roman. The smaller the characters, the harder they are to translate.

While many fax software packages now include OCR components, Calera's Fax-Grabber 1.2 (Calera Recognition Systems; 800-544-7051 or 408-720-8300; $89) is a standalone Windows OCR program designed specifically to translate faxes. It uses Calera's new AnyFax technology, with neural network-based artificial intelligence that's designed to improve the feature extraction process.


annotation. Software feature that lets you draw or write on the fax image file. Also called mark-up.

baud. An obsolete measurement of data transmission speed. Forget it; we use the more precise bits per second (bps) now.

bis. French for revision. Used with CCITT standards. Thus V. 32bis is a revision of the V.32 standard.

bps. Short for bits per second. Use this instead of baud. Measures the speed of data flow between two telecommunication devices.

broadcasting. Software feature that lets you automatically send the same fax to multiple recipients.

CCITT. The French initials for the International Consultative Committee for Telephony and Telegraph. This body governs international telecommunication and data communications standards.

Hayes AT command set. The set of computer commands (character strings) sent to a modem to configure and control it. Developed by Hayes, a prominent modem manufacturer, this is the de facto standard used by many modems.

line speed. The actual speed of data flow over telephone lines, measured in bps.

MNP. Short for Microcom Networking Protocol. A series of methods for reliable error correction during data transmission, especially with high-speed modems. MNP 1-5 are in the public domain and have been included in the CCITT V-series standards. MNP 6-10 are proprietary to Microcom. MNP 10 compensates for poor quality lines that would otherwise be unusable.

OCR. Short for Optical Character Recognition. OCR scans the pixels in a graphic image and recognizes letters from patterns in the image. We use OCR to translate faxed (or other bitmapped) images into text.

printer emulation. Software feature that creates fax images that look as though they were printed by a specific printer.

send and receive. Often abbreviated as S/R in a modem's name. Describes fax modems that can both send and receive faxes. Early fax modems were send-only devices.

throughput. The effective rate of transmission in a file transfer. By compressing data, effective rates become multiples of the line speed.

V.22. A CCITT modem standard specifying 1200 bps.

V.22bis. A CCITT modem standard specifying 2400 bps and 1200 bps.

V.32. A CCITT modem standard adopted in 1984 specifying 9600 bps and 4800 bps transmissions. (When a modem is labeled V.32, it means it runs at 9600 bps.)

V.32bis. A 1991 CCITT modem standard specifying 14,400 bps transmissions (along with 7200 bps and 12,000 bps).

V.42. A 1988 CCITT modem standard used to define methods of error correction, including MNP 2-4.

V.42bis. A 1989 CCITT modem standard. This is not a revision of V.42. It specifies a method for four-to-one data compression.

V.FAST. A proposed modem standard still in development. It will specify 19,200 bps. Expect this in 1994.