eFax Plus review: eFax Plus

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good No fax modem required; good integration with Windows apps; easy to use.

The Bad Expensive; fax applet offers limited features.

The Bottom Line The eFax Plus service is a good option for PC users who don't have a fax modem, but its monthly charges add up fast. Stick with WinFax if price is a concern.

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Let's say you just bought a 2GHz Pentium 4 with all the bells and whistles, including a high-speed Internet connection. You want your new PC to send and receive faxes, but it doesn't have a fax modem. Or perhaps you travel often and want to send and receive faxes from anywhere. The solution: eFax Plus, an Internet-based faxing service that routes faxes via e-mail. Internet faxing may sound like an oxymoron--why not just e-mail somebody the original file?--but it makes sense if you're truly Web savvy. Not everyone has a fax machine, and eFax Plus lets you send documents directly from your PC to any fax machine in the world. And since eFax assigns you a dedicated fax number, you can receive faxes without tying up your phone line. (eFax routes incoming faxes as file attachments to your e-mail in-box.) Let's say you just bought a 2GHz Pentium 4 with all the bells and whistles, including a high-speed Internet connection. You want your new PC to send and receive faxes, but it doesn't have a fax modem. Or perhaps you travel often and want to send and receive faxes from anywhere. The solution: eFax Plus, an Internet-based faxing service that routes faxes via e-mail. Internet faxing may sound like an oxymoron--why not just e-mail somebody the original file?--but it makes sense if you're truly Web savvy. Not everyone has a fax machine, and eFax Plus lets you send documents directly from your PC to any fax machine in the world. And since eFax assigns you a dedicated fax number, you can receive faxes without tying up your phone line. (eFax routes incoming faxes as file attachments to your e-mail in-box.)

Despite the obvious advantages of eFax Plus, we found it a tad inferior to traditional fax programs such as WinFax Pro and HotFax, which provide more faxing tools, including built-in optical character recognition (OCR) and superior cover-page designers. In addition, eFax Plus slaps you with a monthly $9.95 fee--that's a hefty $119.40 per year--plus a $10 sign-up fee and transmission costs of 10 cents a page within the United States. (Alaska's rate is higher, as are international rates.) Ouch. Then again, if you'd rather not fuss with a fax modem, this service is reliable and worth a look.

Easy setup
It's a breeze to sign up for eFax Plus. Simply go to the eFax home page, click the Sign Up icon, enter your personal information--name, e-mail address, credit card number, and so on--and you're on your way. The next step is to download the 3.2MB eFax Messenger Plus applet for Windows (Messenger for Macs is 683K), which provides much but not all of the functionality of the better fax apps, such as WinFax Pro. Once sign-up is complete, eFax assigns you a phone number for receiving faxes. Ideally, you'll want a number in your area code (our choice was 303), but you'll have to settle for what's available. For instance, our assigned number was in the 801 area code.

Naturally, eFax Plus's best feature is that it eschews the fax modem, a notoriously finicky piece of hardware that often fails to connect with its counterpart at the other end of the line. Indeed, our eFax send/receive tests didn't suffer from the occasional dropped connections and handshaking errors that sometimes plagued the other fax apps. In addition, you can use eFax from any Web-enabled computer, as long as it lets you download the small eFax viewer applet.

Messenger minus
Despite eFax's capable work, the Messenger Plus applet fails to impress. Although this bare-bones Windows applet does a fine job with basic tasks such as viewing and annotating faxes (for example, adding footnotes), it lacks its competitors' finesse. WinFax Pro, for instance, offers an easy-to-use wizard that steps you through the tricky process of creating cover pages. Messenger Plus doesn't even have a cover-page designer. And both WinFax and HotFax 5.0 use OCR to convert faxes to editable text. eFax doesn't.

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Where to Buy

eFax Plus

Part Number: CNETEFAXPLUS
Pricing is currently unavailable.