ZOOM/FaxMODEM FC 9624. (fax/modem board) (Evaluation)
by Eddie Huffman
If all fax/modem boards are not created equal, at the very least they necessarily share a number of similarites. Most of them transmit data at a speedy 9600-baud rate for fax transmissions and 2400 baud for modem communications. The ZOOM/FaxMODEM shares these capabilities.
Most of these boards readily plug into an expansion slot, providing an extra jack for a telephone; so, too, does the ZOOM/FaxMODEM. Most come with software for sending and receiving fax transmissions as well as traditional modem communications. But it's in the software that the similarities come to an end.
For quick, workmanlike transmission by fax and modem, the ZOOM/FaxMODEM serves as well as any board made for that purpose. And unlike some boards on the market, this one receives faxes.
If your COM1 and COM2 are permanently assigned for other purposes, you'll certainly appreciate the ability to choose from among four COM port assignments and four interrupts. The board comes with a seven-year warranty. Its accompanying software--ProComm for modem transmission and BitFax for sending and receiving faxes--gets the job done, providing just enough services and not too many complicated layers to plow through.
Comparing the two programs, BitFax does its job better. Like its companion communications software, BitCom, BitFax appears onscreen ready to roll with the punch of a key or two, insisting on no obscure key combinations for either sending or receiving faxes.
Its onscreen display of documents, whether those received or about to be transmitted, is generally clear and large enough to be fully legible. A scheduler allows the user to transmit automatically when phone rates are low, and a readily accessible phone book makes it easy to send faxes repeatedly to oft-called machines.
Like the program itself, you'll be glad to know the user's manual for BitFax is clearly organized and easy to use.
While ProComm gets its job done almost as easily as BitFax, the program does have a disadvatage or two. For one, the main screen displays no choices for action. You're required to either memorize several key combinations or call up a help menu everytime the program is used. Another annoyance is that every action generates an unusual electronic sound effect that, while cute in concept, I found grating in execution. Also, there's no manual for the program, although the help file seems generally adequate.
Installation of the ZOOM/FaxMODEM's software was refreshingly easy, and configuring the board itself took only slightly more time.
Several jumpers had to be adjusted before installation. Instructions for doing so were detailed in the board's somewhat primitive manual. Once installed, the software merely had to be adjusted to reflect the proper port, and transmission could begin.
The ZOOM/FaxMODEM isn't flashy; it's just a sturdy tool for doing more than one task. For day-to-day communications, most users should find it more than adequate.