TotalFax review:

TotalFax

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Easy setup.

The Bad Clunky fax viewer and cover-page editor; no OCR; poor customer support.

The Bottom Line TotalFax fails to match the competition in terms of performance, features, or pricing. For PC-based faxing, you're better off with WinFax Pro.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.0 Overall

TotalFax isn't the worst fax program we've seen, but it certainly has problems. Let's start with what it does right: TotalFax is easy to install. Like its competitors, it accurately detects your fax modem and installs itself in just a few minutes. And, like WinFax Pro and HotFax, it allows you to fax from most Windows apps--meaning that, in Microsoft Word, for instance, you select Print from the File menu and choose TotalFax from the list of printers. TotalFax isn't the worst fax program we've seen, but it certainly has problems. Let's start with what it does right: TotalFax is easy to install. Like its competitors, it accurately detects your fax modem and installs itself in just a few minutes. And, like WinFax Pro and HotFax, it allows you to fax from most Windows apps--meaning that, in Microsoft Word, for instance, you select Print from the File menu and choose TotalFax from the list of printers.

Despite a few nagging phone-disconnect glitches in our tests, TotalFax also handled basic send/receive tasks satisfactorily. So why the low rating? It's because competing fax programs offer more features for about the same price (or, as in the case of $59.95 HotFax 5.0, a lot more for less money).

Tricky interface
The TotalFax interface lacks many of the helpful, intuitive features found in competing programs. For instance, when sending a quick fax from within TotalFax, there's no preview feature for viewing the page before faxing it. The program offers only a few cover-page templates, and its cover-page designer is awkward to use, particularly if you're trying to edit text within a field. (Specifically, you should be able click the text tool and add or delete text anywhere on the page, but you can't in TotalFax.)

TotalFax also lacks a photo-quality send option. In CNET tests, TotalFax converted images to solid black before sending them. Obviously, TotalFax is not a good choice if you plan to fax photos and graphics. (To be fair, neither eFax Plus nor HotFax have a photo-quality feature, but WinFax Pro does.) And, unlike WinFax Pro and HotFax, TotalFax does not have an optical character recognition (OCR) module for turning faxes into editable text.

In our send-and-receive tests, TotalFax performed satisfactorily, although it sometimes wouldn't hang up the phone line after a missed connection.

Questionable support
At first glance, TotalFax's customer support seems acceptable, even first-rate. The Intelliquis Web site includes a product FAQ and a toll-free number for free phone support. You can fire off questions to Intelliquis via e-mail, too, and, supposedly, get a reply "within 24 hours." Reality, unfortunately, didn't live up to the promises. The toll-free support number listed on the Web site was disconnected (so much for free phone support), and no one answered our e-mail queries. Furthermore, aside from a brief FAQ, we couldn't find much technical data on TotalFax.

Lest we sound too negative, keep in mind that TotalFax does have some acceptable features, including a phone book and a cover-page designer. But shop elsewhere for now. You can get a lot more for your money by choosing WinFax Pro or HotFax 5.0 instead.

Take me back to the roundup!

The TotalFax interface lacks many of the helpful features found in competing programs. Note the cryptic, confusing information in the Sent Faxes log.

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