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BroadbandFaxI agree wholeheartedly with the guys at Engadget: the fax machine must die. Preferably now. Please. I really, really don’t understand why some people still insist on documents being faxed to them. It’s not just about signatures, which is at least somewhat comprehensible (though why can’t I paste a TIFF of my signature onto a PDF file and send that through e-mail?) I had to deal with a medical insurance debacle recently where the parties involved insisted I print out Web pages and fax them. No additions, no annotations, just print the Web pages and fax them to the appropriate numbers. Why, for the love of … why?

Meanwhile, computers have had fax modems in them since about 1988, but there are only three people in America who actually know how to use them, and they all work on the Software team here at PC Magazine. The fax modem is the blinking 12:00 of the geek world. It could, in theory, be useful if anyone had any clue how to set up and configure one, and get it working, without crashing Windows.

I guess I could go with eFax type services, but of course, they don’t deal with the signature issue – the idiotic ongoing requirement that you send back all sorts of documents freshly signed “by hand” in blue ink, as if that’s any harder to forge than an e-mail. Is anyone out there a lawyer who can explain the basis behind why some unintelligible scrawl which can be easily forged by my wife, is more legally binding than an e-mail header which cannot?

Meanwhile, I think I’m going to get in the new Sharp BroadbandFax and see if it can help assassinate our fax machines. If I’m reading the press release right, the BroadbandFax, which looks and acts like a fax machine, also works as a two-way fax-to-email gateway, so you can receive faxes into e-mail and send faxes from e-mail without using subscription services. And it’s affordable like a normal fax machine at $159.

How can I eliminate the horror of the fax from my life? Commenters, have at it.

(Thanks, Ryan at Engadget)


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