Review: WinFax Pro Featured

9:37am EDT July 22, 2002

When e-mail exploded into the business market, the days of fax machines were thought to be numbered.

But even with seemingly every worker wired into e-mail, faxes still play an important role and have become another part in the communication tool set.

There were 400 billion pages sent by fax in 1998, and traffic is expected to increase 22 percent by 2001.

Faxing is an important part of daily business life, but going to the fax machine can be time consuming. Symantec's WinFax Pro was designed to give users all the functionality of the fax machine right on their desktops, with advanced features that might not be available on their stand-alone fax machine.

With nine previous versions, what was left for Symantec to do in version 10? Plenty.

Photos. While a document such as a real estate spec sheet might look great on the computer with crisp text and a color photo, when the item was faxed, the photo came out as an unrecognizable black blob. WinFax now recognizes when it's sending to a fax machine and keeps the images in black and white at the best resolution possible for the receiving machine.

Signatures. WinFax allows a simple process to import your signature into the program. When someone faxes you something that needs to be signed, you can push a button, have your signature appear on the document and fax it back.

Fax to e-mail. Many users wanted the ability to send faxes to an e-mail address. The problem was, computers would often have trouble reading the proprietary file format the fax was sent in and wouldn't be able to open it. WinFax now creates a self-viewing fax, so that anyone with an e-mail address can receive and view a fax from you. A bonus is if you are sending a fax out of your area via e-mail, there are no long distance charges, and the document is delivered directly to the recipient's in-box, avoiding the possibility of confidential information being exposed to others the way a traditional fax might be.

Integration. WinFax takes much of the hassle out of converting data from the most common contact manager programs, such as Act, Outlook and Lotus. The program autodetects phone books in these programs and asks whether you would like the lists imported for use in WinFax.

Drag and drop. Drag any document onto the fax icon and WinFax will prepare it to send.

Dialing options. The program was updated to recognize that some area codes are split between being local calls and toll calls from your location. You can identify the various exchanges with special dialing instructions if needed.

Enhanced interface. One of the problems with version nine was there was too much information displayed, making the interface confusing at times. Version 10 solves this by cutting down on the clutter and displaying only the most relevant information.

Reports. If you need to track faxes or charge backs for client accounts, WinFax can generate various reports to support your billing.

WinFax Pro has maintained its lead in the business fax market with this latest version, and with excellent documentation and online help available, this is a top-notch product. Todd Shryock (tshryock@sbnnet.com) is SBN's special reports editor.