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Product: TalkWorks Pro 3.0
Company: Symantec
Website: http://www.symantec.com
Estimated Street Price: $129.95
Review By: Julien Jay

Introduction

Symantec, the yellow box software manufacturer, has the commitment to provide users with advanced software that will help them to better communicate with the “Work Virtually Anywhere” range of products. Symantec TalkWorks 3 is in fact an enhanced version of WinFax Pro 9. This release adds phone features to WinFax 9 such as an answer phone, free hand phone and many more.

As always with all Symantec software, installing TalkWorks Pro 3 is very easy. Insert the CD and push the ‘install TalkWorks Pro’ button of the welcome screen. Then the setup will start and after approximately 6 minutes the setup will be completed and you’ll have to configure your modems to be properly used by TalkWorks Pro 3. The setup of TalkWorks Pro 3 will query the modems you’ve selected to retrieve their capacities and configure them.

What's New

  • Caller ID Screen Pop: TalkWorks can scan your phonebook for information about incoming calls, and then pop up the relevant information on your screen. So you can know exactly who is calling.
  • Message Sharing: this feature lets you link computers without the required modem or communications device to a central host machine that has a modem, for shared modem messaging capabilities. So every computer can use TalkWorks even if they don’t have the necessary modems.
  • Special Callers: you can classify special people and important clients in the aim for TalkWorks to direct them to the mailbox and greeting you specify.
  • Call Forwarding: You can now route callers to another phone number.
  • Find Me Notification: Now TalkWorks can try multiple phone numbers to find you and let you know when you’ve got new messages.
  • Forward voice messages by email: you can now forward voice messages you received by attaching to emails.
  • Detailed call reporting: the new detailed call reporting feature tracks incoming and outgoing calls, fax on demand usage and even hang-ups.
  • New TalkWorks telephone: the phone and answering machine interfaces have been merged into a single easy to use TalkWorks telephone.
  • ISDN support: TalkWorks now supports ISDN cards.
  • Answering system templates: you can use the templates to help you design and set up the answering system you need.
  • Enhanced answering system setup wizard: The wizard leads you through all the steps required to set up the answering system and mailboxes that best meet your needs.

The Features

Through a wonderful graphical user interface that looks like a professional phone, TalkWorks Pro 3 manages many voice boxes and can distribute faxes when incoming caller request the faxes. As TalkWorks Pro 3 is fully compliant with TAPI you’ll be able to use at the same time for example an Internet dialup connection when you’re sending faxes. This communication suite software is perfectly integrated with Microsoft Outlook 97/98/2000 and can even handle emails. The new release 3 has been improved, sure it includes new features but it runs much faster than the previous release 2. TalkWorks Pro 3 now manages and supports the smart self-memory modems (it only concerns 3Com and US Robotics modems). TalkWorks also comes with advanced address book features, it can import Lotus, Symantec ACT or even ODBC address books to be used when calling peoples or sending faxes. Obviously you can create and use your own phonebook.

TalkWorks Pro is supposed to be compliant with all existing modems. Indeed the compatibility of analogue modems is very good (even with PCMCIA modems). However if you use ISDN adapters such as the Bewan USBooster 128 one, TalkWorks Pro 3 won’t correctly work with it due to some CAPI 2 compatibility problems. Also the list of certified ISDN adapters that work with TalkWorks 3.0 is very short since only AVM and Digi modems are certified to be 100% compliant. 

Faxes 

As TalkWorks Pro 3 includes the worldwide fax leader software WinFax 9.02 its' fax features are really great. You’ll be able to manage easily your faxes from an Outlook like interface, named the Message Manager (you can also use the message manager to manage voice calls). Like in Microsoft Outlook you’ll be able to store and sort faxes in different folders. The Microsoft Office 98 like interface of the message manager allows users to be quickly operational. When incoming faxes arrive users will be notified by a sound and the WinFax tray icon will change. The OCR feature of TalkWorks will try to recognize incoming faxes and translate them in text files. However we found the OCR engine not very accurate with handwriting faxes, but it works correctly with typed modems. TalkWorks includes a great TWAIN compliant feature: when you want to scan and send a document by fax, launch the Message Manager center, click scan and send. Then the default TWAIN driver (you can select the one you want in the settings if you’ve got many TWAIN drivers) will run and you’ll be able to scan as many pages you need to send faxes. It works really great on our test system. 

The fax sending quality with TalkWorks is somewhat excellent. However when sending faxes that contain pictures from other software by using the print feature you’ll have to change the printer driver intensity to avoid disastrous results on the receiver’s fax (if you don’t do that the receiver will have most of the time a black fax). But once this setting has been made the faxes that contain pictures will have a fair quality. As it’s a Symantec product, TalkWorks will be able to use the Live Update feature to retrieve latest patches and enhancements. The new sending dialog box is very easy to use. From it you’ll preview your faxes pages, and you’ll be able to select, modify cover pages, add stamps and much more in a few clicks.

When sending or receiving faxes a dialog box appears on the screen stating from where the fax comes/goes and it displays a progress indicator. However we regret that unlike in WinPhone 2000 you can’t see in a small window what the fax you’re receiving or sending looks like. Hopefully you can create your own cover pages with the cover page designer: a wizard will guide you to do so! One of the advanced feature of TalkWorks Pro 3 is that you can create a fax on demand service: so incoming callers can request a specific fax that will be send automatically by TalkWorks. Finally we found the improved backup feature very great to store definitely in safe place, important faxes.

Phone/Voice

The first immediate advantage of TalkWorks Pro 3 is that it’ll turn your voice-capable modem in a real phone by dialing phone numbers from the screen and speaking to your caller in free hand mode! Sure when incoming calls arrive you’ll be able to answer to them in free hand mode simply by pushing a button! More due to the CallerID feature you’ll be able to know who is calling (if your modem supports this feature) and to answer or direct the call to the answer phone. The answer phone will automatically answer to incoming call if you don’t want to answer or if you’re out. A default welcome message will be played and your caller will be able to let you a message. Once your caller left a message a blinking LED will appear on the TalkWorks panel and an icon will blink in the tray. You just have to click on it to hear the message. You can even change the speed of the voice messages and set their volume. More the audio editor provided with TalkWorks Pro 3 will help you to record and modify greetings, voice messages and wave files. It can also be used to create or modify files to be played to callers on hold and system notification wave files. Finally it can delete background noise and stretches of silence or change the order of segments of the wave file. 

With TalkWorks Pro 3 you can create multiple mailboxes to store the voice calls you received and to direct them to the good person/service. And the TalkWorks simulator will help you test your new answering system to know how it looks like. TalkWorks will also seek you if you received new messages: indeed it can send pager notifications or messages to your mobile phone so you’ll be able to call back TalkWorks to hear the messages you’ve just received.

Message Manager

One of the great features of TalkWorks Pro 3 is the Message manager center. Indeed from it you are able to store, sort incoming faxes, emails, pager notifications, transferred files or voice messages. The different kind of messages can be easily distinguished due to the different icons TalkWorks Pro 3 uses. From the message manager you can add new contacts, edit or remove existing contacts to your phonebooks. TalkWorks 3 can handle data calls (if you wish); so remote data callers will have a special Data only mailbox to be able to start remote data connection. Finally you can share the computer that has got the voice capable modem with other computers that haven’t voice capable modems: so your employees will be able to check for new messages on the answering system directly from their computers, great isn’t it?

Final Comments

How It Grades
  Setup: 90%
Manual: 85%
Performance: 89%
Features: 90%
Cost: 85%
Modem Support:75% 
Ease of Use: 80%
Interface: 95%

Overall: 86%
 

TalkWorks Pro 3 is very good and very complete communication software that needs to be enhanced further to be easier to use and to set up. Also this software will become quickly obsolete since Symantec has announced the availability of WinFax 10. However this software is a great buying to give a professional voice to your business or home office. You can try it for free on the Symantec website.

 

Specs & Package
Overall Score 86%
Version Reviewed TalkWorks Pro 3.0
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 CD
1 Manual
1 Get Started Guide
The Good Points Great GUI
A lot of Features
The Bad Points Poor ISDN Support
Picture Quality in Faxes
Similar To N/A
Reviewers PC Setup Pentium II 450
Windows 98 Second Edition
256 MB SD-Ram
Matrox G400 32MB AGP Graphics Card
DirectX 7a
SoundBlaster Live! Value
17" Sony Monitor
PC Required Windows 95/98 NT/2000
Pentium 200 or Higher
90 MB HD Space
32 MB Ram
Voice Capable Modem
CD-ROM 2x or higher

 

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