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April 2000, Week 3 -- Just the Fax

  WinFax Pro

   People used to joke in this business that some programs have been around so long we'll see something like "Winfax, version ten" some day. Well, it just arrived in the mail.

   It's "WinFax Pro 10.0," made by Symantec. Version one, which I still have somewhere around here, occupied about 230K of disk space, this latest Windows version fills 57 megabytes. Of course you get some extra features for that.

 

   One of the nicest new features is that you can send a fax to an e-mail address in a self-viewing format. In other words, when the receiver collects the mail, the fax opens up, logos, images and all. It opens whether or not the recipient has WinFax. It can also be passed on as an e-mail attachment and will open up when the next person receives it. You can store faxes in any Windows folder, instead of the previous limitation of being able to store them only in a WinFax folder.

 

   This is a standard office tool; it's hard to see how anyone can get along in business without some kind of fax program. Interestingly, fax software has taken over the fax function almost completely; sales of new fax machines are dead in the water.

 

   List price for WinFax Pro 10.0 is $119, though you should have no trouble beating that from any discount store. Upgrades from earlier versions (Hey, even my old "version one?") are $69. Phone: 310-453-4600; web: www.symantec.com.

 

Hard Copy

 

 

   The new BJC-85 color inkjet printer from Canon is compact and can be turned into a scanner by replacing the printhead with an accessory scan head. The print resolution is 720 x 360 dpi in black or color and 360 x 360 in photo printing mode. Discounted price is generally less than $300. This printer can also use a battery pack, which makes it portable.

   Printers are selling awfully cheap these days as companies realize the real profit is in replacement ink cartridges, not the printers themselves. (We wrote about the price of ink last week.) So the machines themselves can be had for as low as $50 in some of the large office supply stores. Of course, you still get what you pay for and you get better quality and speed for more money.

 

   Canon has produced some good values themselves in their BJC series, most of which allow scanner head plug-ins, which saves the user from having to buy a separate scanner. This and most other Canons can be plugged into either Windows or Macintosh computers. Most of their printers also use separate ink cartridges for each color. So if you run out of blue (usually the first to go) you can just replace that one.

 

   Canon phone: 800-652-2666; web: www.ccsi.canon.com.

   Epson has held the edge in high-resolution low-cost color printing for a decade or more, and they'll keep holding it with this new Stylus Color 670. The print resolution is 1440 x 720 dpi (near photographic) and a $30 rebate on the $129 street price, brings the final cost to less than $90. Like the Canon printers, this Epson is both Windows and Mac plug compatible.

   I still have the very first model of the Epson Stylus Color printer, by the way, which worked fine until the day I put it away because of newer models. Can't beat the price to resolution ratio on this new one. Tip: only use the highest resolution when you really need it; an 8 x 10 inch color photo will take five minutes to print out.

 

   Epson phone: 562-290-5254; web: www.epson.com.

 

Demonstrations and presentations

 

   "DemoShield 6.5" lets companies create a multimedia demo of their product. The latest Windows version has a much more intuitive interface than previous efforts and the finished demo itself can have interactive features, like send e-mail and play audio from the CD.

 

   DemoShield is made by InstallShield and almost everyone who has ever used a computer and installed a new program has seen their work. A message will appear on the screen with the words "InstallShield will now take you through the installation of this program," or something very similar. Don't know what we'd do without it.

 

   The list price for DemoShield is $595, or $245 for upgrades from earlier versions. You can also try it out for free at the company's web site: www.demoshield.com. InstallShield phone: 800-374-4353 or 847-240-9111; e-mail: info@installshield.com.

 

Internuts

-- www.southpacific.org Where to go, what to do, and how much to pay for it when touring the South Pacific. Hotels in American Samoa are twice as expensive as those in independent Samoa, for instance.

-- www.teamon.com Another new site that offers contact management and document storage on the web.

 

-- www.entrepreneur.com Site from Entrepreneur Magazine. Tips and longer advice on starting a new business, handling contracts, etc.

 

-- www.stockbyte.com  Images online, some free, some not. A search for "Mona Lisa" produced "no images found."

-- www.investmove.com  Links to an incredible number of sites that provide advice and basic information on stocks and mutual funds.

-- www.findlaw.com  Links to sites and attorneys that concentrate in specific areas. An enormous amount of information that takes a while to go through but seems worthwhile.

 

-- www.geophones.com Links to sites that cover phone services, both on and off the Internet.

 

NOTE: Readers can search more than three years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.