HP's Pricey Internet Fax/E-Mail Machine

SAN FRANCISCO (03/21/2000) - Some people like to receive business documents through e-mail. Others prefer faxes. If you want to distribute paper documents electronically, the Hewlett-Packard Co. Digital Sender 8100C lets you cater to both types--without a PC. If you connect the Sender to a corporate network with access to Internet e-mail and fax services, you can scan paper documents and distribute the images as e-mail attachments or faxes. But this fax machine look-alike costs $1299, and for that money you could buy a serviceable PC and a scanner.

The Digital Sender is easy to use. Choose a delivery mode (e-mail attachment or fax) by pressing a button; then use the device's keyboard to type in the recipient's fax number or e-mail address, or pick from an internal address book that holds up to 200,000 entries. Insert the document into the attached automatic document feeder, or place it on the scan bed. Select the document type (black-and-white, color document, or photo), and hit send. The Digital Sender can print to some HP network printers, too. High-volume corporate users will appreciate the Digital Sender's 25-page capacity and its ability to accept double-sided and legal documents.

Setup is straightforward, but the LCD panel lacks backlighting, so you may have to squint. Touch typists won't like how the Sender's keyboard repositions many non-QWERTY keys. Output from the Digital Sender's scanner matches that from a typical $100 scanner, but you can't crop the Digital Sender's images. Last, if you choose to e-mail your image as a PDF or TIFF file attached to an e-mail, you can't add a personalized message.

Busy medium-size and large offices that need instant document delivery by e-mail and fax and like the flexibility of a stand-alone device may find the Digital Sender worth buying. But most people will be better served by investing their money in a PC and scanner.

HP Digital Sender 8100C

Pro: Networked, PC-free e-mail/ fax machine scans paper documents and sends high-quality images.

Con: Expensive, can't crop images, hard-to-read LCD control panel.

Value: Might work for fairly large offices with heavy fax/e-mail traffic.

List price: $1299




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