Talkworks Pro: Soho Phone Solution

by Alan Zisman (c) 1998. First published in Toronto Computes, December 1998

Symantec TalkWorks Pro 2.0
$249 ($50 rebate for WinFax Pro 8.0 owners)
requires: Windows 9x/NT, 16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended), up to 64 MB disk space, compatible voice-capable/fax modem (Caller-ID/Speakerphone-capable modem recommended)

Phones and computers are working together more and more every day. Digital technology allows the phone company to offer low-cost services like call waiting to consumers. And digital PBXs allow big business features like voice-mail and messaging.

While most of us have cursed poorly thought-out voice-mail systems, at their best, they can provide useful and usable capabilities, at least for organizations big enough and rich enough to implement them.

Despite the 2.0 designation, Symantec?s TalkWorks Pro 2.0 is the product?s first stand-alone version. TalkWorks 1.0 was a home answering-machine add-on to the company?s popular WinFax 8.0 (produced by the former Delrina, in Toronto). In an unusual role-reversal, this one time bit-player has emerged to be the star of its own production. Now, in TalkWorks 2.0, WinFax gets the cameo role.

As befits is origins, TalkWorks includes all the capabilities of Symantec?s new WinFax Pro 9.0 (available separately for $149 for users who only need its features): the ability to create, preview, and send faxes directly from the PC. Pages can be rearranged or removed, and multiple documents (even from different applications) can be merged into a single fax. A single fax can be easily sent to a group of recipients, and faxing can be delayed until long-distance rates go down, after hours.

A single fax modem can be shared between multiple users across a small network, for both incoming and outgoing faxes.

The fax capabilities can be used to build a fax-on-demand , allowing customers to call and request documents, and have them be automatically faxed back.

But TalkWorks goes beyond fax. The program can be set to answer the phone, and receive voice messages along with incoming faxes. The Message Manager logs all incoming calls, and if you have Caller ID (from your phone company) will identify the caller. There?s a phone book, allowing quick calls or faxes?it can be integrated with the listings in several popular Personal Information or Contact Managers?not just Symantec?s own ACT! The phone log can be accessed from ACT!

You can set up voice mail, with different mailboxes for individual employees, fax-on-demand and more. The program includes a collections of pre-made messages, or allows you to record your own. Multiple messages can be used, depending on the time of day or other criteria. Messages and faxes can be automatically forwarded to a pager or other phone number, Filtering can be set to only forward selected messages, or to only page you at selected times of day.  Messages can be saved as WAV files, to become a permanent record.

With the right modem, your computer can act as a full duplex speaker phone. This, and several other features depend on having a compatible modem?check at for a list of recommended modems and a 30-day trial version.

Symantec TalkWorks Pro 2.0, aimed at business with up to 5 users, offers very small businesses and home offices all the power and professionalism of a big-time phone system at its best.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan