Product Review: Voice, Fax Converge in TalkWorks

It sometimes seems that e-mail is the only way people communicate these days, but voice mail and faxes (not to mention the ol' face-to-face conversation) are still crucial, especially in the business world. Symantec aims to prove there's still life beyond e-mail with the release this week of an update to TalkWorks Pro, its integrated voice mail/fax application for small businesses and home offices.

TalkWorks Pro 3.0 lists for $129.95; users of TalkWorks Pro 2.0 or WinFax Pro 8.0 can upgrade for $79.95. The program works with Windows 95, 98, and NT, and requires at least 32MB of RAM and a compatible modem.

The software is designed to give callers the impression they're connected to a professional voice-mail system. You can choose from a selection of prerecorded greetings or record your own. You can also create multiple mailboxes and multitiered mailboxes for more advanced voice-mail service.

New in TalkWorks Pro 3.0 is Caller ID support, which links to the TalkWorks phone book and pops up information about incoming callers. And if you're running Symantec Act or Microsoft Outlook, you can also bring up the caller's record with a single mouse click.

Other new features include voice-mail broadcasting, which lets you send messages to specified groups of people, and a Special Caller feature that links with Caller ID to play a particular message to a particular caller, or direct the caller to a specific mailbox.

TalkWorks Pro 3.0's call-transfer capabilities let you automatically direct callers to external numbers. And you can program the software to try multiple numbers if necessary.

The program sports a unified interface for voice mail and faxing. Symantec's WinFax Pro 9.0 is integrated into TalkWorks 3.0. Besides sending faxes directly from applications, WinFax Pro offers fax-back and fax-on-demand features and supports Internet fax services.

TalkWorks generates four types of reports on incoming and outgoing calls, hang-ups, and fax-on-demand. New in this version are categorized reports for fax-on-demand that break down calls by mailbox, Caller ID, requested documents, and hang-ups.

Symantec representatives say TalkWorks Pro 3.0 also has a new wizard that makes setting up mailboxes easier.

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