by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor -- firstname.lastname@example.org
For a long time, there were no Mac-oriented network fax products. You could send faxes from your very own fax modem, hooked directly to your Mac, or stand in line to use your office fax machine. Then, there were several network fax solutions, but the good ones were expensive. Recently, CommFORCE, L.C., who publishes one of the best, introduced a "low-end" version better suited to small-business budgets.
4-Sight Small Site, the latest offering from CommFORCE, is based on the company's 4-Sight Fax product (created by 4-Sight International, Ltd., a small company in Great Britain), but stripped down for smaller networks. The new product is designed for networks of ten or fewer users, and includes a Zoom V.32bis fax modem. The retail price for software and modem together is $995.
As with the "industrial-strength" version, Small Site allows faxing from within a document, custom cover pages, user notification of successful or failed transmissions, delayed transmission, and accounting. It also incorporates LineShare software from Stalker Software, which allows both fax and data software to share the modem, using "virtual ports" created by LineShare. LineShare analyzes incoming calls and hands them to the correct "virtual port," thereby handing control over to the fax or data application.
The complete 4-Sight Fax product is capable of handling thousands of users from a single server, and supports up to eight fax modems, all of which can be in use simultaneously. (Multi-port serial cards such as the Hurdler from Creative Solutions or the QuadraLink DMA from Applied Engineering would of course be necessary if you want to use more than two modems.) The complete package also supports optional QuickMail and Microsoft Mail gateways, so you can fax email messages.
Both 4-Sight Fax and its Small Site cousin use a client/server approach, as do most other network fax solutions. The user simply "prints" through a Chooser-level driver, or if an email gateway is installed, just mails the message, with files to be faxed added as attachments. The fax server software, installed on a centrally-accessible Mac, takes over the faxing process, and optionally reports back to the user when the fax has been sent successfully, or when it gives up trying.
4-Sight's user interface rivals the GlobalFax software (included with Global Village's TelePort and PowerPort modems) for intuitiveness and functionality, and if it doesn't quite win the match-up, that's nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, sending through an email gateway couldn't be easier: you simply address your mail to the gateway, providing the fax number as though it were an email address.
At $995 just to get in the door, 4-Sight won't quite eclipse the popularity of standalone fax modems, but it's certainly economical when compared with outfitting several users at your organization with fax modems and extra phone lines.
CommFORCE, L.C. -- 515/224-0211 -- 800/448-3299 (fax)