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WHAT CELLPHONE/COMET GUIDE                                        

INTRODUCTION

 

The humble telephone has become such an integral part of our lives that we tend to take it for granted. Once a convenient means of keeping in touch with friends and family, your phone is now an integral part of a immensely powerful global communications network, with the potential to link you with countless millions of individuals, businesses and organisations around the world.

 

If that sounds a little daunting, it’s not meant to be. There’s now a huge array of affordable and easy to use devices that can be connected to your telephone line, to make the communications revolution work for you. Whether you simply want to upgrade your existing telephone, add an answering machine, or set up an office in your home, the possibilities are almost endless. Our aim is to guide you through the options, and help you to make the right choices.

 

But where do you start? Even an apparently basic domestic telephone can have numerous extra facilities, including multiple number memories, on-hook dialling and caller-number displays; we explain what all of them mean, and what they can do for you. Cordless telephones give you the flexibility to make and take calls anywhere in the house, or garden. Some of the latest digital models can function as mini exchanges, with two or more handsets, so there’s no longer any need to install extensions in other rooms of your home.

 

Answering machines -- once only found in busy offices -- can now be bought for less than £40. You need never miss a call again; some models will allow you to retrieve messages when you’re away, or re-direct calls to another number, including a mobile phone.

 

Fax machines are another group of devices that have migrated from the office into the home. Even the cheapest models will allow you to send and receive documents from anywhere in the world, moreover some of them now have built-in answering machines, that can distinguish between voice calls and faxes. One of these could be invaluable if you work from home. 

 

That’s just the beginning, your telephone line is a gateway to the information ‘super-highway’ and the internet. All it takes is a basic home computer and an inexpensive modem, to put you in touch with a network of millions of computers, containing news and information on just about every subject you can imagine. Soon -- possibly within the next two or three years -- your television and satellite receiver could be connected to the phone as well. This will  open up a whole new world of tele-shopping, home banking and interactive services, that will allow you to play video games and even choose which movies you see on your TV.  

 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There’s plenty to be getting on with right now. This is undoubtedly the best place to start, particularly if you’re just starting out on what promises to be an exciting future for personal communication.

 

FAX MACHINES

 

WHY BUY A FAX MACHINE?

If you work in an office then you won’t need reminding how useful a fax machine can be, but a lot of people wonder whether they have any serious applications in the home? The simple answer is yes. You will be able to send or receive letters -- typed or hand-written -- and pictures, to or from almost anywhere. That includes people without a fax machine of their own, who can receive faxes via a bureau, or friends and colleagues.  Incidentally, a fax often elicits a faster response from businesses, compared with phone calls or letters.

 

Faxes can be used to order goods and services or confirm bookings and reservations, the paperwork arrives in just a few seconds. Many companies are happy to supply details of their products by fax, it can save hours tramping around shops, tracking down brochures. A lot of magazines and publications operate ‘faxback’ services, whereby you can obtain test reports and summaries of review articles. Fax machines can also be used to photocopy documents, some top-end models can be connected to a PC for direct transmissions, or used as a scanner. Far from being a luxury, once you’ve got a fax, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it...

 

YOUR GUIDE TO BUYING A FAX MACHINE

 

ACTIVITY REPORT

Most fax machines will confirm that the document has been received at the other end, some models also maintain a permanent record or ‘journal’ of the time and date faxes were transmitted and received 

 

AUTOMATIC PAPER CUTTER

Paper cutters are a useful feature on machines that use thermal paper, especially if you expect to receive a lot of multi-page documents

 

BUILT-IN ANSWERING MACHINE

If you haven’t already got an answering machine then it’s worth considering a fax machine with the facility built-in. Most models automatically discriminate between faxes and phone calls

 

CALL TRANSFER

Fax machines with this feature will automatically dial a nominated number (mobile phone etc.), and alert the user that a message has been received; this can then be replayed, using a remote access code

 

COPY FACILITY

All fax machines have a photocopier facility. Models with adjustable resolution settings can give the best results on graphics and pictures. Nevertheless, quality is rarely as good as a proper photocopier, and the cost per page is generally higher

 

GREY SCALES

Greyscale is a measure of a fax machine’s ability to process photographic images and the contrast range of the transmitted document. The majority of budget machines have 16 greyscales or ‘halftones’; dearer models have 32 or 64 levels, the higher the number, the sharper and more detailed the image will be. Faxes sent using the highest settings usually take longer to transmit

 

HELP LIST

Print-out of short-form instructions for basic operations, so you don’t have to keep referring to the manual

 

MEMORIES

Faxes with memory facilities can variously store fax images for later transmission, make multiple copies or store incoming fax messages, if the paper runs out

 

PLAIN PAPER

Most fax machines print out on rolls of thermal paper.  It is thin and has a tendency to curl, moreover the image can fade over time, or if incorrectly stored. Plain paper fax machines print onto ordinary photocopier paper, for easier filing, and the image is permanent

 

TAM INTERFACE

If you have a telephone answering machine or ‘TAM’ it’s worth getting a fax with a TAM interface; shortlist models that can automatically switch between voice messages and incoming faxes

 

REVIEWS

 

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

 

SAMSUNG SF900

 

‘Perfect for home offices and small businesses, integrating the functions of a fax with a digital telephone answering machine. It is compact, easy to use, performance is very good indeed and it’s attractively priced’.

 

* built-in digital answering machine

* 32-level greyscale

* call transfer

* 10-sheet document feeder

* hands-free speakerphone

 

Guide Price £289.99

 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

 

BETACOM PPF 200

‘The PPF 200 combines the practicality of plain paper operation with lots of useful fax and copying facilities. It’s ideal for small business users, though the compact styling fits in just as easily in the home environment’.

 

* Plain paper operation

* 16-level greyscale

* TAM interface with automatic fax/phone switching

* 30-page copier/out of paper fax  memory

* 50-number autodialler

 

Guide Price £249.99

 

RECOMMENDED

 

SHARP UX-70A

‘This realistically-priced machine rates highly for performance and flexibility and is well suited to home use and light business applications’.  

 

* 16-level greyscale

* TAM interface with automatic fax/phone switch

* 15-sheet document feeder

* 15-number auto-dialler

 

Guide Price £199.99

 

ALSO WORTH CONSIDERING

 

SAMSUNG SF100  

 

‘Sensibly priced, competent domestic machine’

 

* 16-level greyscale

* TAM interface with automatic fax/phone switching

* 34-number auto-dialler       

* ‘help’ list printout

 

Guide Price £189.99

 

SAMSUNG SF110T

 

‘All the features of the SF110 with improved resolution and the added benefit of a built-in digital answering machine’

 

* built-in digital answering machine

* 32-level greyscale

* 54 number autodialler

* call transfer

 

Guide Price £249.99

 

SANYO SFX215

 

‘Versatile machine for home or business use’

 

* built-in digital answering machine

* auto paper cutter

* 32-level greyscale

* on-hook dialling

* 20-number auto-dialler

* music on hold

 

Guide Price  £299.99

---end---

Ó R. Maybury 1997 0206

 


 

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