An e-mailing fax machine

Plugged In

November 09, 2006|By Craig Crossman | Craig Crossman,McClatchy-Tribune

So many of today's communication electronic devices are acquiring the ability to connect to the Internet.

The telephone does; it's called Voice Over Internet Protocol or VoIP. Several digital camera models can go online. Television devices such as the SlingBox let you see what's being displayed on your TV from anywhere you can get Internet access.

So it was inevitable that we'd eventually see a fax machine go online, too.

The UX-B800SE BroadbandFax from Sharp Corp. is a normal progression of that technology. It looks a lot like any other fax machine except that it's front panel has a full-function QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard's main function is for typing in the e-mail address. You connect the BroadbandFax to your Internet service in much the same way you connect your computer to your Internet connection, as well as connecting it into a standard phone line. That's pretty much it.

Once connected and set up, you can still send ordinary faxes to ordinary fax machines, which is why you need the phone connection. But that's where the similarity ends.

With the BroadbandFax, you can send the document to any e-mail address as an attachment. And since the connection is high speed, a typical fax can be sent in about six seconds.

Place the document into the BroadbandFax's paper feeder, enter in the e-mail address and press Send. The BroadbandFax converts the document into either a TIFF or PDF file, attaches it to an e-mail and sends it out. No fuss, no muss.

The BroadbandFax includes a 100-page memory, and it can store a number of commonly used e-mail address and phone numbers. Any user on the network to which you connect it can also access the numbers, e-mail address and even send faxes to groups from an ordinary web browser.

One really nice feature of the BroadbandFax is that it has two-sided send that lets you fax two-sided documents unattended. The other more common features are here, too, such as using it as a copier, sorting and zoom. There's also a built-in phone/fax smart switch that lets you share a single line for a telephone and fax machine.

One other nice touch is a security ability that lets you password-protect a fax via its secure receive feature that requires the user to enter a password to print it out.

If your business demands require you to receive faxes from your office while you are on the road, there's a good chance that your destination may not have a fax machine, or you may not know their machine's phone number. But there's a good chance you know your destination's e-mail address and if they have a computer, you can get your faxes. And the BroadbandFax's price of $159.99 is the same as an ordinary entry-level fax machine.

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