WinFax Pro's Near-Perfect 10

SAN FRANCISCO (03/21/2000) - Most fax software makes sending and receiving faxes with your PC possible, though not exactly uncomplicated. But the unrivaled flexibility and intelligence of Symantec Corp.'s WinFax Pro have long set it apart from the crowd. The latest version adds several welcome new features, as well as support for Windows 2000.

WinFax Pro 10 lets you send faxes as e-mail attachments, complete with a built-in 60KB viewer, to people who don't have fax numbers. This feature can be convenient if you want to send a scanned or electronically generated image of a document rather than editable text--or if you plan to transmit a document to multiple recipients, some of whom lack fax machines. Also new is a photo-quality mode, which reproduces illustrations and photographs much better than standard fax mode (though the faxing time doubles).

Other improvements: The program can now draw fax phone numbers directly from the address books of Outlook Express and other popular personal information managers. You have more flexibility in defining when to dial 1 and the area code before dialing a number--useful now that some cities are moving to ten-digit phone numbers. A software mechanism will delete faxes from known junk-fax phone numbers.

My shipping copy locked up during one test of the e-mail fax feature (it worked fine on subsequent attempts). And sometimes WinFax Pro inexplicably invoked the log-in routine of Outlook Express. Symantec said it was looking into these problems.

Despite these rough edges, WinFax Pro 10 remains king of the fax programs. A $120 street price may be the package's biggest drawback for new buyers; owners of all earlier versions can send for a $50 rebate. That offer helps make the upgrade sensible for serious fax users.

WinFax Pro 10

Pro: Full-featured fax software.

Con: Pricey if you send faxes only occasionally.

Value: Package of choice for frequent faxers.

Street price: $120



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