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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Internet and Fax 56K USB Modem (Sewell)

I know: you're thinking that Piaw has finally taken this "retro-grouch" thing too far. Sure, my phone's from 2015, and my computers from 2009, and many parts on my bicycle are even older than that, but a modem? In this day and age?

So what happened is that in dealing with my parent's long term care insurance, I frequently have to fax documents to them. You can use FaxZero, which is free for faxes under 3 pages (with a maximum of 5 free faxes a day), but more than that and you're paying $2 per fax (which is insane). Other online fax services start from $17/month and go up from there, with $10 setup fees and what not. I bet they're really hard to cancel too! Then I remembered that I actually had a landline that came as part of my internet plan. I actually try to get rid of it every so often, but it apparently qualifies as some sort of "double play" promotion which means that my internet price would be higher without it!

I tried buying a dumb old fax machine, but they start at $40. That in itself is not a problem but they're huge! So I went with a USB Fax Modem. I went for the cheapest $14 modem, which is still cheaper than even a month of fax service. Windows 10 came with a Fax and Scan software (though in practice I use Acrobat 9 to scan and then convert the PDF to TIFF). It's clunky and not the best UI but I don't have to install anything, and it works.

I don't use it often (maybe once a week or so), but if you need to fax something and have a computer with a scanner, this is way to go. It's tiny, doesn't chew power or require an extra power socket, and you can just plug it into a computer with a USB-A port. If that means I'm stuck buying PCs instead of Chromebooks, so be it. Tag me with a retro-grouch label. See if I care!


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