Sharp Idea

A fax machine that saves money on long distance calls

If you are among the more than 9 million folk who telecommute, then you know there are some added costs to working from home. A high telephone bill is one of them. You can reduce the cost of your phone calls by as much as 50% using one of two new fax machines from Sharp Document & Network Systems of America, a division of Sharp Electronics, the No. 1 fax machine manufacturer in the U.S.

Sharp’s UX-340L and UX-345L models have all the bells and whistles found on other moderately priced fax machines, such as caller ID display, automatic cover sheet writer, 15-second-per-page transmission, and 10-sheet document feeder. What makes this duo so special is they use low-cost routing (LCR), which allows them to automatically choose the cheapest available long distance carrier every time an outgoing, fax or phone call is made. This is possible due to collaboration between Sharp and openLCR, a Web-based telecommunications company that also sells openLCR-ready phones via major telephone manufacturers.

Using the machines is a no-brainer. The first time you use the UX-340L or the UX-345L, you will need to activate it by linking it to the openLCR Website (www.openlcr.com) to download a listing of all pricing information for available long-distance companies onto a chip embedded in the fax machine. Whenever you dial an area code and the first three digits of the number being called, the fax checks the rate list and then picks the carrier with the lowest price depending on the day of the week, time of day, or calling area. The openLCR Website is free. There are no set-up or subscription fees; no need to change your selected telephone carrier; and no awkward access codes or “10-10″ phone numbers to remember.

The UX-340L and UX-345L are compact plain-paper fax machines featuring 60-sheet paper cassettes and approximately 28 pages of built-in memory. These fax units also can be used as copiers. The UX-340L’s telephone system comes equipped with a 44-number auto dialer and four rapid dial keys, while the UX-345L comes with a 97-number auto dialer and seven one-touch keys. Designed to keep stay-at-home workers connected at a reasonable price, both the UX-340L and the UX-345L retail for $129.

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