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Product Reviews
May 2000


Panafax DX-2000

North American Headquarters
Matsushita Electric Corporation of America (Panasonic)
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Ph: 201-348-7000

Price: $3,995

Editor's Choice Award

Installation: 4
Documentation: 4.75
Features: 4.5
Overall: B+

The Panafax DX-2000 looks like a normal network laser printer if you view it from a distance. Upon a closer inspection and from the name itself, one can see that it is also a fax machine. Not only that, it can fax over the Internet via e-mail through an SMTP server. When the recipient receives the fax, it is in the form of a .TIF file and can be viewed with any TIFF image viewer.

Since the battery and Ethernet card were already installed in the Panafax DX-2000, all we needed to connect was the power cord, the 10Base-T Ethernet cable to a hub, and an analog cable to the wall. The only problem we had with these simple procedures was finding where the Ethernet port was hidden on the Panafax DX-2000. After that, we put in the toner cartridge. It was easy to place, but this particular cartridge was a little leaky, causing this TMC Labs engineer to have a little mess to clean up afterwards. Fortunately, a mess is commonplace in certain areas of our lab.

On top of the Panafax DX-2000 is a small LCD display, a telephone keypad, a little punch-in keyboard, all of the buttons a normal printer would use, and additional buttons, including one used for Internet access via e-mail. To configure most of the settings, administrators must press the button marked "FUNCTION" and then the numeral seven. After, they set the mode they want by pressing the appropriate punch-in keyboard button (from one to six, but mysteriously, pressing five does not do anything). For configuration purposes, administrators press one for user parameters and enter the appropriate data that the LCD prompts, such as the character ID, specified IP address, subnet mask, SMTP server name, and the e-mail address for the machine.

Next, we installed the LPRmonitor software required for the Panafax DX-2000 to work with a Windows 95/98 client, and then installed the printer drivers. When the installation of version 6 was completed, we still could not print out a sample page. We could, however, print a fax parameter list that came directly from the Panafax DX-2000, and we could fax documents. We quickly realized that the problem had to do with specifying a port for the Panafax DX-2000 and the proper IP address associated with it. We tried to add a network path to the printer but could not do so. After a call to technical support, we realized that the port we wanted was listed as HLPRMON. We chose that, typed in the appropriate IP address with a description tag we associated with the machine, and pressed the Apply button. When we tried a test print page, it worked.

Last, we downloaded the TIFF converter and MAPI enabler software from the Web so that we could send TIFFs in e-mail form from our client through the Panafax DX-2000 to a regular G3 fax machine. Before we could download the MAPI enabler software, we had to fill out some general information, such as a name and an e-mail address, and enter a serial number that was given to us. The TIFF converter installed like a printer driver, and the MAPI enabler software was installed the more traditional way -- via a .EXE file.

The documentation consists of a one-sheet quick guide, an installation guide, a Panafax DX-2000 user's guide, and a printing system user's guide. For the most part, the guides are informative and give accurate procedures on how to set up specific configurations, especially the Panafax DX-2000 user's guide. However, we would like to see more troubleshooting information for the installation and initial configuration of the machine, even though there were plenty of other troubleshooting hints towards the back of the Panafax DX-2000 user's guide.

Besides the obvious benefit of having a fax and printer as one machine, the main feature that sets the Panafax DX-2000 apart from other fax machines is its ability to convert a fax or scan into an e-mail attachment (.TIF file). This was done with little trouble. All we did was press the blue Internet button, enter the e-mail address we wanted, place the fax in the appropriate position, and press the Start button. The Panafax DX-2000 initially stored the information in its memory and then sent the fax. We received the fax as a .TIF file, and were able to open it through a viewer (you can download a TIFF viewer from Panasonic's Web site if you need it). If the transmission failed for any reason (wrong e-mail address, typo, etc.), the small LCD screen told us the error number, which we could look up in the user's guide, and the Panafax DX-2000 automatically printed out an error page. We could also print out a journal listing of the failed and successful fax-to-e-mail conversions made from that particular machine.

With our network's SMTP mail server in place (with a unique host domain) and the TIFF converter and MAPI enabler software installed, we could relay e-mails that the Panafax DX-2000 received to a regular G3 fax machine. To prevent unauthorized users from using this gateway service, a relay XMT password must be pre-programmed with every Panafax DX-2000. Of course, the fax number of the G3 fax machine should be known. If the Panafax DX-2000 is located in another area code from where you are sending and the G3 fax machine is also there, then there is no need for the sender to dial that area code.

The last features we would like to mention involve programming telephone numbers and e-mail addresses by entering one-touch or abbreviated numbers (relay addresses) for quickly accessing e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Both features are similar to execute. For instance, all we needed to do to enter a one-touch key was follow a few simple steps, which involved setting the number we wanted to use, entering the phone number or e-mail address, and naming that particular station. Once the stations are programmed, you can easily search for the proper one-touch keys or abbreviated numbers you want to use by pressing the Directory Search button, and performing a few short steps. Of course, if you know the key you require, you can simply press that key. In a similar procedural manner, group (broadcast) dialing can also be accomplished easily.

There are a few suggestions we could make that would improve the Panafax DX-2000. A larger LCD screen would make it a lot easier to view what keys you are entering and to read the screen. Additional keys on the punch-in keyboard, such as a ".com" or ".net" key would make it easier to enter e-mail addresses. Also, there does not seem to be a way to enter comma strings into a phone number, such as when a slight pause is needed after dialing 9. While you can type in numbers when you enter e-mail addresses, you cannot enter anything from the punch-in keyboard when you are dialing a phone number. Furthermore, at times, you cannot just press the Clear button to delete a mistyped letter or number. You sometimes must use the forward key, causing you to perform two steps when only one should be necessary.

Besides a few previously mentioned improvements in the installation process, we would also like to see the inclusion of converting voice recordings into an e-mail attachment via a .WAV file. Speaking into a recorder that would be built in to the Panafax DX-2000 would achieve this feat. This would give the user the ability to add speaking notes to the fax e-mail as well as give it a little more of a personal touch.

The Panafax DX-2000 does exactly what it is intended to do. It can send and retrieve faxes and works as a network printer. Most importantly, it delivers faxes over the Internet in a straightforward and simple manner.

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