Test lab. (Windows-based fax software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Richard C. Leinecker
Does your present computer setup allow you to be as productive as you can be? With each new generation of hardware and software, this is a question you've got to ask if you want to maintain a competitive edge. The arrival of stand-alone fax machines provided a tremendous productivity boost. Then computer fax cards entered the work scene, offering ease of use, even more convenience, and even greater productivity benefits. Now these cards are faster, less expensive, and more capable than ever; and a number of companies are ready to take advantage of this market by offering fax packages, many of which have OCR capabilities.
The benefits of computer faxing were clear to me from the first day I used one of these packages. For months I wrote messages in Microsoft Word, printed them on my LaserJet, faxed them from the machine, and then threw them in the garbage. After my garbage can filled up enough times, after my LaserJet needed a new toner cartridge, and after I forgot to resend enough faxes after busy signals, I looked for a better way. The complete solution to all of these problems was my fax board and fax software. This month's Test Lab covers ten of the best Windows-based fax software packages on the market.
Using this technology begins the transition to a paperless office. Instead of printing to my LaserJet from Word, I now print to the fax board. I select the fax board from the Windows printer setup. Then, evey time I print, the document routes to the fax board. No more full garbage cans and depleted toner cartridges from faxing!
Getting busy fax machines doesn't bother me. I simply schedule outgoing faxes and let the software worry about trying again later. No more irate phone calls asking where the fax is!
These fax packages do a lot more than I need. But some of you are probably looking for just such capabilities. You can set up software to send documents on a regular basis. Let's say, for example, that you have a sales staff that needs current inventory and pricing information daily. Every day at 5:00 a.m., your fax software can dial them all with the correct information based on a file on your hard drive.
If you have several people onsite who all get faxes, you'll find this feature helpful: Fax software gives you the ability to set up separate incoming boxes. This makes it possible for each person to print out his or her own faxes. That's good because you don't have to worry about a fax's going to the wrong desk and lying there for weeks. Another advantage is the security that's provided to each person. Sensitive faxes aren't open to unwanted eyes.
If you do have something on paper that you need to fax, you'll need a scanner, too. Most of the packages easily import from scanners. Here again, the fax-card-and-software solution is better than the old way. Once you have a document scanned in, you can load it into your favorite paint program or work with it using the fax software's built-in graphics tools. If necessary, you can use optical character recognition to convert a fax to editable text.
I still have my dedicated fax machine. For the types of incoming faxes I get, it's ideal. But for my outgoing faxes, you won't catch me using it. Once you take a close look at the packages in this month's Test Lab, you may decide that they can solve many of your communication problems, too.
Many of you grew up on BitCom, the terminal program that at one time seemed to come with most of the modems sold. The same folks who developed BitCom applied their telecommunications skills to the next logical step--fax software. If you're accustomed to BitCom, you might learn to use BitFax without much difficulty. It occupies a middle point between older DOS-based software and hardcore Windows technology.
I know people who won't touch Windows software unless it follows every standard Windows interface technique in existence. I also know people who're used to DOS software and need the chance to ease into Windows. Bit-Fax bridges the two extremes. It doesn't completely follow the Windows interface standards, using a smaller-than-usual screen and 2-D, rather than 3-D, buttons, for example. On the other hand, the program doesn't stay strictly with old DOS-style techniques. This is neither good nor bad; just be sure that this is what you want before you consider BitFax.
This version of BitFax includes an advanced OCR technology called Caere AnyFax technology. In the three programs I tested that use it, this OCR technology produced admirable results. The scores for these programs were about as good as the scores for any others. In my benchmark test, BitFax scored 77 percent. That's outstanding, especially considering that the benchmark test has some built-in procedures that lower the scores. You won't have any trouble using the files it saves as long as you're willing to spend a few minutes editing the few characters that go awry.
BitFax's fax viewer didn't have many features, but of the viewers covered in this roundup, this one was probably the easiest to use. Buttons and pull-down menus let you easily rotate, scale, and page through the fax document. For most people, this is enough--and the viewer is truly easy to use.
With most of the fax packages, you have to identify the card you're using. With BitFax, I didn't have to. Some of the features I looked for were missing from this package. I couldn't find a way for incoming faxes to automatically print, nor could I find any scanner support. Also, there didn't appear to be any way to import and export phone book lists--a capability you'd really miss if you already have your phone numbers and addresses in electronic format. However, even these omissions don't prevent BitFax from being a good choice for a number of people. And this latest version of the software installs more easily than the previous version, has improved documentation, and now comes with BitCom, a terminal program.
If you want software that sends faxes, receives faxes, and does OCR conversion, and if you don't need your fax software to do anything else, this could be a good choice for you. Particularly if you still feel more comfortable with DOS-based software, give BitFax a look.
This is no ordinary fax software. The designers at Trio made sure DataFAX went beyond other fax software by including extras that most people don't even think of. Besides working on my standalone system, it's network ready. Cover pages can be converted to 28 different languages. A slightly different fax protocol needed when communicating with German fax machines can be turned on. And the OCR conversion process exports to a number of popular word processor formats.
All of the features you'd expect are there. You get background sending and receiving, OCR conversion, graphical editing tools, and scheduled transmissions. They're all admirably implemented; just click on a button or menu selection. DataFAX uses more buttons with icons than the other fax software. Although it took me a bit longer to learn what each one represented, once I did, the interface was very easy to use.
In examining DataFAX, I received the impression that the designers didn't look at other fax software during the design process. They seemed to start from scratch as they created their idea of the perfect fax software.
During the installation, as DataFAX copies each file to the hard drive, a message tells you exactly what the file does. I've never seen an install program do that, but it sure was a nice change. Also, that the software which runs on my system is network which runs on my system is network ready distinguishes this product from other fax packages. Most companies charge plenty for their network versions. The international support, something else not found in the other fax software, may find favor with you if you do much overseas faxing. Sending a cover sheet to Paris with French titles is pretty impressive.
Here's another feature you might like. DataFAX has the regular front-end program like all the others, but there's a special smaller version called Captive that can be loaded and always stays on the screen as a small window, ready to be called upon when needed. Clicking on the button activates it and gives you several other choices that let you do quick operations such as sending a fax note or capturing part of the screen to fax. You can even drag files from the File Manager to it, and it will send them as faxes!
The OCR conversion of faxes to text worked adequately. The nicest part was the ability to save the files in ASCII, Excel, Word, Lotus, WordPerfect, and Ami Pro formats.
Changing program configuration is easy. Menu entries take you right to dialog boxes that let you change any part of the program's setup. That's important because it can be hard to match the setup to your fax/data modem card the first time. For most of the fax software, I needed at least two or three tries. You'll be glad you can change the program configuration if things don't work the first time around.
DataFAX is a fine piece of software. It performs well for me on a stand-alone PC. If you need network capabilities or do a lot of international faxing, that might tip the scales for you in the direction of DataFAX.
DELRINA WINFAX PRO 3.0
After spending time with Delrina WinFax Pro, I could just imagine the planners and developers sitting around thinking about what they could possibly include in this latest version so that it would top the previous version. The resulting package, if not the absolute best, is pretty close. During the testing, I opened the manual for a total of 2 minutes. After that, I read for 20 minutes to make an assessment for my rating. When something this complex doesn't need a manual, it says a lot about the software.
All of the standard features are there: background sending and receiving, scheduled transmissions to individuals or groups from one of the phone lists, OCR conversion to text files, and graphical editing tools. These features deserve more than casual mention, because they're the result of years of hard work. But in this day and age, we expect outstanding software--so I'll go on to mention the exceptional points.
WinFax Pro uses a third-party technology called Caere AnyFax technology. The three programs in our roundup that uses it peformed OCR conversion about as well as any of the other fax programs. Bear in mind that the comparison program I used had some built-in procedures that tend to lower the score from 100 percent, even for perfectly matched files. Yet WinFax Pro came up with a 68-percent rate of conversion, more than adequate to convert faxes to usable text files.
If you'd rather skip the frills, the next part won't interest you. But most of us will appreciate the WinFax Pro's cover sheets transform boring and easily lost faxes into experiences that people can't ignore. I counted 105 different cover sheets, all customizable. The next time I can't get results from some company's tech support, I'm going to send the cover sheet with Shakespeare saying "It would be a tragedy if the following went unread." And for collecting past due invoices, I'll use the one with a guy on a ledge saying "We're getting desperate! Please drop us a check!" In all seriousness, cover sheets like these get results.
Another feature I liked was the ability to show thumbnails of all pages of a document. This can be a great help if you want to make sure your presentation has the right overall effect.
Most fax software defaults to automatic answer and reception. WinFax Pro is different. When it's installed, it doesn't automatically answer calls. This small touch might seem insignificant, but wait until your phone line is doubling as a fax and you lose several calls because a caller gets a carrier signal. All of the programs can turn automatic answering off. WinFax Pro's choice of defaults demonstrates a real understanding of how the software is used.
The install program does it best to identify your fax/data modem board and its COM port. For mine, it guessed Class 1, but then I couldn't send without transmission errors on the remote end. I had to reinstall the software to make the change. In the next version of WinFax Pro, I'd like to see the ability to make such a change without reinstalling the software.
As for background operations, I noticed only slight hiccups. There weren't any of the delays I experienced with many of the other packages. I had no trouble running other applications while WinFax Pro was in operation.
When I evaluate software, usually there are dozens of features I'd like to see added. Not so with WinFax Pro. If you're looking for power in a fax program, this is definitely one to consider.
ECLIPSE FAX WITH OCR 1.21
Eclipse FAX with OCR 1.21 takes a straightforward approach to faxing. If you aren't interested in a lot of fancy buttons and cute touches, this package could be the one you're looking for. While the developers didn't waste effort on frills, neither did they skip any important features. Everything you need to do your faxing is included.
The package sends and receives faxes manually or in the background, and it is also capable of scheduled transmissions. It lets you keep multiple phone books, use your scanner for input, and view and edit faxes. I found the program's well-planned features clear and easy to use.
I frequently use faxes to contact people who haven't answered voice mail. All I need to do is to write them a note of several lines, letting them know what I need. Even the most die-hard voice-mail avoiders, it seems, respond to a fax. Eclipse FAX's Quick Note feature takes you through the simple process of selecting a name from your phone list with a double click, then typing a short note. This is consistent with the package's simple approach. Even with several other software packages installed on my computer, I came back to Eclipse FAX when I needed to send a one- or two-line fax.
Another handy Eclipse FAX feature is its ability to index a collection of faxes. With this feature, browsing or searching through your faxes is a snap. To find a particular fax, just enter a keyword that matches a keyword you typed in when the document was saved. The program also facilitates searches by offering a variety of ways of sorting information.
Eclipse FAX occasionally takes control of Windows for several seconds, most notably in the period of 15-20 seconds when it first connects to a remote fax. During transmission, there are also periods of 2-3 seconds between pages when the program takes control of Windows. It's easy to start clicking the mouse and pressing keys during these periods, but that can be trouble. Each time you click or press, Windows remembers; and once the active application regains control, your clicks and keypresses will all be executed in rapid succession. I spent plenty of time restoring my icons to where they used to be, after numerous pent-up mouse clicks were released.
On one occasion, I used the program to convert a fax to a text file with the OCR feature. This required a great deal of processor time and involved large numbers of disk accesses. During a background send, the conversion caused an unexpected delay for the remote fax device because the remote device terminated the connection and reported a communication error. Since it happened only once, and that was during unusually heavy system use, I don't think it's a problem. My standalone fax machine occasionally can't complete a transmission for one reason or another.
If you're the type who gets right to business and would rather forgo frills, this might be your package. I like it because it doesn't take up much disk space and it's easy to use to send a quick note.
Caere, the company that developed the AnyFax OCR technology, licensed by several other companies, has also developed its own fax software. With such a significant part of the fax technology mastered and at Caere's disposal, it's no wonder. FaxMaster is an easy-to-use alternative to the other packages. Though not as full-featured as some other fax packages, this product boasts a look and feel that may make it your first choice.
All of the important features are there and are professionally implemented. Sending or receiving faxes is simple and effortless. Scanner support, scheduled transmissions, a viewer, and a phone list provide the tools to maximize productivity. Missing are less-important features, such as graphical editing tools, the ability to import and export phone lists, and the ability to change screen colors.
Making a complex piece of software easy to use is no small feat, but Caere has managed to do it. At the top of the screen is the pulldown menu and, below that, six icons representing the major program functions. The remainder of the screen contains either thumbnail documents from which you can select or a full view of a selected document. I like being able to select from thumbnails; it's much easier and more enjoyable to select from these miniaturized representations of faxes than from a list of faxes (usually with dates and times as their only identifiers).
Of course, Caere's OCR technology is state-of-the-art. The AnyFax technology is easily recognizable during the conversion process; you see an image of the fax page and watch the text become highlighted as the program processes it. You can also see a small window with an expanded piece of text while it's operating. FaxMaster scored a 64 percent--not the best score of the lot, but pretty good. Two factors that can affect my comparison of the OCR-produced document to the original document are pagination marks and inserted form feeds. While pagination and form feeds are useful features, they accounted for FaxMaster's lower-than-expected score in the comparison; if the pagination marks are important to you, or you need form feeds for easy printing, don't let the score diminish your appreciation of this package's OCR capabilities.
The computer industry has its share of jargon and buzzwords. I easily added some of these words to the program's user dictionary so that it would have an easier time recognizing them during OCR conversion. This was helpful, since my test document had words like dBASE, Excel, and ASCII. Adding words to the user dictionary that commonly appear in faxes will improve accuracy.
Most people don't adequately appreciate the value of easy access to a program's setup. After spending a large block of time with this month's fax software packages, I think I appreciate the value of this easy access more than ever. Thankfully, FaxMaster makes its setup parameters readily available from several pulldown menu entries.
I particularly enjoyed using FaxMaster, largely as a result of its easy-to-use interface and easy feature presentation. I didn't open the manual until it was time to rate it. There were no setup problems, so I was up and running in less than five minutes. Take a serious look at FaxMaster. Its strong points might make it just what you need.
FAXWORKS PRO 3.0
The programmers at SofNet really know fax technology. Their install program found out practically everything about my fax/data modem card. I learned things about it that weren't in the manual, including the chip type and revision number. This mastery of the technology translated into worry-free fax sending and receiving.
The features you'd expect are there: sending and receiving, OCR conversion to text files, phone lists, scanner support, and an easy-to-use viewer. You'll also find one of the best cover page creation utilities, which includes hundreds of clip art images.
If you don't want to waste time trying to correctly configure your fax software, or if you're afraid you'll never figure it out and might really mess something up, FaxWorks Pro's easy installation makes it a good choice. By contrast, I spent several days configuring, reconfiguring, and reinstalling some of the other software to get everything working. That's a lot of time for someone who's competent and computer-literate.
There's one feature in this package that I've never seen in any other software, and that's a quick way to access system configuration files. Using a pull-down menu, you can view and edit your WIN.INI and FAX-WORKS.INI, among others. If I'd experienced trouble getting things to work, this might have been a valuable ability. I guess the folks at SofNet wanted to make sure their tech support people could easily help customers in case there was a problem.
The main screen in FaxWorks Pro isn't fancy, but the six icons are enough to help you navigate without much need to pull down menus. One icon calls up what SofNet calls a FaxTracker, which is a general fax maintenance window. What I liked best about this screen was the array of radio buttons at the top that change it from a send long to a receive log to the file access dialog box to the file cabinet. When you click on these buttons, the function of the FaxTracker changes, but you don't have a different dialog box. That means you don't have to learn four different windows or dialog box styles for these four different program segments. Consequently, the interface reduces the learning curve immensely.
One attractive feature that Windows newcomers in particular will appreciate is FaxWorks Pro's great system of context-sensitive help. There are two levels: one that simply gives you a single line of text and another that gives you large cue card-style blocks of help. In either case, you'll get plenty of help while you're learning the software. I found the comprehensive help that's accessed from the Help menu very complete and well written.
The OCR technology performed admirably. It scored 79 percent, making it one of the best I tested. It wasn't fast, and there wasn't a snazzy display while it operated, but with results like that, who cares? With a few minutes of editing, my conversions were perfectly usable.
FaxWorks Pro gave me trouble-free service. It doesn't have a lot of fancy features, but it has everything you'll probably need.
INTEL FAXABILITY PLUS/OCR
Intel FAXability Plus/OCR is a solid piece of software from a company famous for world-class microprocessors. It has a moderately long feature list, and I found the interface workable, but the installation involved more effort than I had planned on. Probably its most distinctive feature, and the one that may sell you on the product, is its ability to convert faxes to popular word-processing formats.
The major features are there--background receive and send, OCR conversion to text files, scanner support, phone lists, and custom cover pages. Some less-important features are missing, such as automatic printing of incoming faxes, automatic fax cleanup, graphic editing tools, and the ability to change screen colors. Of these missing features, the automatic fax cleanup is the only feature I use occasionally in the other fax packages. FAXability does include some features not found in the others. You can print faxes in landscape or portrait mode and load different printer fonts, for example.
The OCR conversion performed well. My benchmark test measured OCR accuracy at 72 percent. Other measures of OCR accuracy would probably be better than 80 percent. The benefits of OCR here, as in other packages covered this month, are clear. You can use the text files created from the faxes as you would any other documents, or you can use them as records of the faxes from which they derive.
The amazing thing about the FAXability OCR conversion process is the enormous variety of formats it outputs to. You can convert faxes not only to straight ASCII files but to compatible files for most major word processors, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Write, Ami Pro, PFS Professional Write, WordPerfect, WordStar, and XyWrite. And that's a small part of the list. It also converts to dBASE, Microsoft Excel, and Lotus files.
I had a tough time getting the software to work on my system. After I had sent a fax, my mouse became erratic and Windows locked up. I tried a multitude of reconfigurations, and this took quite a long time, since a complete system restart is necessary with each new configuration.
I finally called an Intel technical support representative, who solved my problem. My COM ports in Windows were set up in such a way that a conflict was created between COM 3 and COM 4. I never understood this entirely, since I don't have a serial port on COM 3 (my communications card was COM 4). I spent about five minutes explaining to the technician why the problem wasn't my mouse driver. He eventually checked with someone else and told me how to change my Windows port settings. This did the trick.
I should have stopped there. The technician recommended I download a newer version of the program's CAS driver. I did, and things stopped working. To get my system working properly again, I had to delete the directory and reinstall the software. Granted, fax software is difficult to support, but no other fax packages reviewed here had problems with my Windows port settings.
Some of the features FAXability has might be important to you. You might need to save faxes in your word processor or spreadsheet format. Once configured properly, the software worked well. Just keep in mind that you may have to spend some time getting it to work the way you want it to work.
QUICKLINK GOLD 1.1
When this program first ran, I did a double take. It looked like a DOS-style terminal program with some Windows-like icons at the top. Looks can be deceiving, though, and I quickly grew attached to this software. More than just fax software, QuickLink Gold 1.1 is a complete telecommunications package.
The designers and developers deserve special mention for their willingness to go against the grain. In several noticeable places, the interface deviated from what you'll find in every other Windows program in this roundup. The main screen is black with green text, in contrast to the normal Windows look and feel. After my initial surprise, I was thankful. When returning from the program's other windows with the typical Windows look, such as the fax viewer and setup dialog boxes, I always knew when I was home at the main screen. Other very nice touches were 3-D text and a modem LED simulation in the status box on the screen.
QuickLink did especially well converting faxes to text files. In my benchmark test, it scored 79 percent. However, QuickLink keeps track of its own success rate and registered a score of 92 percent. These two scores are different because the program counts only the unrecognizable characters, not the ones it gets completely wrong. The reality of QuickLink's success with OCR lies somewhere between my score and the program's--which is pretty remarkable.
Hats off to QuickLink for determining my exact hardware configuration on the first try. It worked perfectly from the start, and I never gave it a second thought after that. I don't guarantee you'll have the same success rate; I do, however, think that my experience with QuickLink speaks very well for the product, especially in contrast to the difficulties I had with other installations.
I was surprised by the amount of time the program required to send a ten-page document: It took 23 minutes and 28 seconds to send a simple ten-page document from Microsoft Word. That's double the time required by most of the other packages. There's probably a technical explanation for this, but I don't know what it is. You might not care, though. Since the send procedure goes on in the background, it won't stop you from working. If you're not constantly sending faxes, this probably won't be an issue.
I know this isn't a review of telecommunications software, but I'm dying to tell you just a little about that part of the program. Besides, some of you might want to get this program because it can serve all of your communications needs, not just your faxing needs. There's a built-in host mode. You can leave it running and dial in to access any file on your computer. All of the major file transfer protocols, such as XMODEM, YMODEM, and ZMODEM, are built-in. And you can define macro keys to skip some of the steps when you log on to BBSs and online services.
QuickLink is a fine piece of software. It'll fill most of your telecommunications needs. On my system, it worked well, without any fuss--and that's worth a great deal to me.
RAPIDFAX GOLD 2.10 FOR WINDOWS
As soon as you run it, you can tell that RapidFAX is strictly business. Greeting you as the program opens are its three most important sections: the send log, the receive log, and the phone books. It was quite a while before I found it necessary to pull down any menus, since the icons and information in the windows are enough to help you do just about anything you might need to do with this program.
All the features you need for productive faxing are there--scheduling transmissions, OCR conversion, phone lists, scanner support, and cover sheets. RapidFAX lacks some infrequently used features, such as fax-editing tools, automatic fax cleanup, and the ability to import and export your phone lists. For most small businesses, there's more than enough to meet communications needs.
The OCR conversion utility was up to snuff. It scored a 66 percent, more than adequate for reading and understanding later. With a little time and effort, the text files could easily be edited and reused or resent later.
Another plus is the ability to import and export different types of file formats. You can load any BMP, PCX, or TIF file and send it as a fax. That's really great, because you can capture just about anything in Windows and save it as PCX and BMP files. You can easily send presentation pages that include graphs and charts.
There's a built-in memo function that quickly allows you to send a memo to a destination fax without having to load a word processor. I use this feature about as much as any other and am grateful for its inclusion. There's also a function that checks the integrity of files. I never found any inconsistencies in mine, but if I were having problems, this might be at the top of my list of favorite features.
Most computers come with the first two COM ports occupied by a serial port and a mouse. This is the case with my system and most systems I've used in the last three years. (The bad part is that my manuals that explain how to reconfigure those serial ports are always lost.) This configuration is a problem with RapidFAX, since it installs only to COM 1 or COM 2. And to further aggravate the situation, I didn't know any of this until after I installed it and tried to reboot. The memory-resident software that loads from AUTOEXEC locked up, since I didn't have a fax/data modem card on COM 1 or COM 2.
To make a long story short, I spent six hours changing the jumpers in my computer, reinstalling the software, and fixing the problems the process created. If you're considering RapidFAX, make sure that your fax/data modem card can easily be configured for COM 1 or COM 2.
Another battle that I faced was finding the right fax/data modem type so that there wouldn't be any transmission errors. Generic Class 1 and Generic Class 2 didn't work, so I resorted to trial and error. It wouldn't have been so bad if the changes went into effect right away, instead of after the next time the system booted. After a number of tries, I determined that the BOCA 14.4 setting worked well (for my TwinComm fax/data modem.)
If you have a fax/data modem card that's been around for some time, chances are that it'll be on the list. That means you won't encounter the same problems I did. And if your device is on COM 1 or COM 2, you won't have any problems with RapidFAX. Since there are a number of features to recommend this program, take a look. It might be just right for you.
ULTRAFAX 1.1 FOR WINDOWS
When the UltraFax window first appears, you'll know at a glance what UltraFax has to offer and how the program is organized. Five descriptive icons with labels such as In Box and Out Box line up along the bottom, giving you access to the main program areas with a double click. At the top of the screen is a row of buttons. When the windows associated with these buttons are open, a single mouse click gives you access to choices such as Send, View, and Print. And the pull-down menus offer complete control over navigation through any part of the program.
UltraFax has all the features you'd expect. Among them are scanner support, OCR conversion, multiple phone lists, and a viewer with graphical editing. There isn't room to talk about all of these, but they reveal craftsmanship and high quality. There are, however, several things which differentiate UltraFax from the other fax programs, and these differences may make this package just what you're looking for.
While working with ten fax packages, I learned to appreciate what others might call "the little things." Being able to change every part of the hardware setup without reinstalling the software became something I looked for right away. Since my fax/data modem card was new on the market at the time of testing, I had to search for just the right settings through trial and error. Several of the packages without this ability (to change the hardware settings without reinstalling the software) cost me at least an hour. And if you're a computer neophyte, an installation with one of these other packages might chew up an entire day. My thanks to the manufacturer for making sure this often-overlooked capability was included.
UltraFax also impressed me with its terrific graphical editing tools. ZSoft has long been one of the leaders in graphics programs. Most of us, at one time or another, have used PC Paint-brush, one of the first commercial-quality paint programs for IBM compatibles. UltraFax has more than enough power to add a few nice touches to an outgoing fax or cover letter or to create some nice artwork.
All the usual tools, such as lines, boxes, and circles, are there--even a magnifying tool! The ability to rotate your fax might be just what you need if you'd like to send the information in landscape mode instead of portrait. You can also view multiple pages to get a sense of what the entire fax looks like.
Several of the packages in this month's roundup had an irritating habit of taking control for seconds at a time, and UltraFax was no exception. A number of times, I'd start clicking in other windows; when nothing happened, I couldn't resist the compulsion to click some more. By the time Windows regained control, there were enough mouse events in the queue to really mess things up. Many times the result was a completely rearranged desktop. After I figured out what had happened, it wasn't much of a problem. But during background operations, you'll have to watch out so that inadvertent clicks and keypresses don't do something you hadn't intended.
As you probably know, Windows applications all compete for processor time. For this reason, I had to be careful while using other applications during background sends to avoid stealing too much processor time. On rare occasions, the remote fax machine interpreted a delay as a transmission error and hung up. The problem was worst when I had so many applications loaded that Windows did a lot of swapping to disk. Except for those rare occasions, though, UltraFax sent and received without a hitch.
Overall, this is a fine piece of software. A well thought-out interface makes this capable program easy to use and worthy of your consideration.