Fast Company

The New Fax of Life

The fax machine is the communication technology we all love to hate. Three new tools help take the frustrations -- and costs -- out of faxing.

Anytime, Anywhere, Any Smaller?

You're in a cab to the airport and you've just missed an urgent fax. There's no way to see it before your flight leaves, right? Wrong. All you need is FaxView from Reflection Technology, the first paperless, handheld fax reader.

FaxView is a mobile device no bigger than a calculator. It uses the same display technology as Nintendo's Virtual Boy portable game. Users peer into a one-inch lens and read their faxes. The display is robust (the equivalent of a 12-inch computer monitor) and easy to read. FaxView stores up to 25 pages of text and can zoom in on any portion of the document.

FaxView hooks into cellular phones from Motorola, Ericsson, and Nokia (solving the fax-in-a-cab problem) or into any landline phone. Users dial a fax mailbox and decide which documents to download. FaxView also allows users to annotate, forward, and create their own messages. A practical headache: typing on the virtual keyboard one letter at a time. A bonus: email also can be forwarded to the fax mailbox.

FaxView retails for $299 or $349 depending on battery choices. It costs $9.95 per month for a personal mailbox and 70 cents per minute to download faxes.

Contact: Reflection Technology at http://www.reflection.com or call 800-670-4329.

Fax for Less

Sending faxes isn't just frustrating, it can also get expensive. Estimated worldwide billings for fax transmissions exceed $10 billion per year.

Enter the Internet. NetCentric's FaxStorm Desktop is the first full-featured software application for faxing via the Net. Faxing a document is as simple as printing it. One click and the software transmits it via a least-cost routing algorithm.

When you're on the road, you can compose documents offline, and then send them as faxes using your Internet service provider's local access number -- avoiding long-distance telephone charges.

FaxStorm works best in a Microsoft Windows or NT environment and can be downloaded free on the Web. NetCentric offers a variety of attractive pricing plans: on a per-fax basis, NetCentric charges 20 cents per minute during peak hours and 15 cents for offpeak. Am monthly fee of $9.95 entitles users to 125 free minutes; $19.95 buys 1,000 minutes.

Contact: NetCentric at (http://www.netcentric.com) or call 617-720-5200.

Fax in a Box

Tired of missing faxes because your computer is turned off, or because the hotel's fax machine was busy for two hours? JFAX Personal Telecom service puts faxes where they belong -- in your electronic mailbox.

Users choose a JFAX-supported telephone number; people send faxes to this number; JFAX transfers the documents to email.

What arrives in your inbox? A compressed MIMI-encoded attachment. JFAX Communicator software (available free off the Web) allows users to view, file, or print the original fax document. The latest Windows version even supports voice messages.

JFAX requires a one-time set-up fee of $15.00. The monthly fee is $12.50 for the first 100 pages and 20 cents for each additional page.

Coordinates: JFAX Personal Telecom at (http://www.jfax.co.uk) or call 888-438-5329.

Marshal Rosenthal (marshalr@pipeline.com) writes from New York City on business technology and digital entertainment.

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