TPC's New Voicemail System
by Todd Boyle
The TPC is about to get a new Voicemail system to handle calls coming into the TPC hotline. This is a brief review of what I saw at Ken Cotton's place where the thing is under test:
The computer is a plain vanilla Compaq 486. Inside is a new type of card from Spectrum Signal Processing, called Spectrum Office F/X ($279 mail order)... this is the exact same card as one of the OMRON cards which Ken showed me just to prove it!! It is apparently selling like hotcakes in Japan at ¥20,000. (If the Japanese were ever behind in implementing PC technology, they aren't any more...)
The Office F/X card incorporates 16-bit WAV and MIDI audio it uses an IBM Mwave DSP, which gives it more realistic wavetable MIDI sound, than some other voicemail products in magazine reviews.
PC Magazine in April 25, 1995 reviewed this board quite favorably. Rick Rettig also raves about it; he is an independent telephony consultant with long experience in Tokyo....
The Office F/X multifunction I/O card combines a fax modem, telephone management features, and automatically detects and assigns IRQ and DMA settings via software. As a regular sound card it would be ok.... 32-voice wavetable synthesis and Sound Blaster emulation.
It comes with the following software:
SwitchBoard—telephone management software which is a programmable voicemail system like those we all have grown so fond of, when calling for service at the US Embassy, software companies, etc. All incoming messages, including faxes, E-mail and phone messages, are stored in a folder hierarchy. You can establish hierarchies of voice mailboxes. It can thus support offices that conduct multiple types of business or that distribute various information to incoming callers.
Delrina WinFax and WinComm Lite—fax and modem programs.
MKS Internet Anywhere—E-mail front end.
Discriminator—a utility which automatically determines whether an incoming call is voice, data or fax and routes it to the appropriate receiving software.
Office F/X supports data and fax transmissions at 14.4 kilobits per second (Kbps), and V.34, 28.8-Kbps data transmission. I watched Ken log into the machine with PC Anywhere 32, which is the latest and greatest remote control software in the universe!! I was totally awed by this setup which can do everything I would want to do, on a single line.
It did seem to be struggling under Win95 with 8MB of RAM installed. It requires you to load all the software at once, and seemed to be paging to disk a bit....
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