The Complete Fax/Portable. (evaluation)
by David English
Talk about small. Who would've thought you'd be able to buy a fax machine that's only 5 1/2 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide? Before you rush out to buy one, let me explain. This fax machine doesn't come with a printer, and you can't put paper in it--but when hooked to a computer, it can do just about everything a conventional fax machine can do and more.
Here's how it works. If you have a page scanner, you can feed your pages directly into the fax machine. Otherwise, you'll need to prepare your pages electronically. You can use the built-in text editor or your own word processor. Rather than convert the various word processor file formats, the Complete FAX/Portable includes a memory-resident program that captures your word processor's printer output and automatically sends it out as a fax. You simply configure your word processor for an Epson printer (it's OK if you have another kind of printer), press the hot key (usually Alt-t), fill out the information in the Fax Hot-Key window, and print the file from your word processor.
Unfortunately, the pop-up Fax Hot-Key window won't work from some programs, including Microsoft Windows, DESQview, and any application that operates in the Hercules graphics mode. There are work-arounds for most of these programs. With Windows, for example, although you can't use the hot key, you can print files from Windows to the fax board as long as you've installed the fax program before going into Windows. There are two drawbacks. First, any printing from Windows at that point will be faxed and you won't be able to print to your printer. Second, to regain printing control in Windows, you'll need to exit Windows and deactivate the fax program. This would be a strong argument for not starting the fax program from your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.
You can also send ASCII text files and many kinds of graphics files, including PC Paintbrush+ (PCX), Microsoft Windows Paint (MSP), Tagged Image File Format (TIFF class B), and Dr. HALO II and III (CUT) files.
While the software could've been easier to use (especially with Windows), I had no trouble sending or receiving faxes. It's a bit pricey, so you'd be better off buying a less-expensive fax card for your desktop computer. On the other hand, the unit's small size makes it a good choice for laptops, especially if you already have a modem.