The two most popular scan and fax services are Comombo and scanR. They both operate under the same basic idea: taking a photo of a document with a camera phone, compressing it with software and sharing it via e-mail or fax or both.
Let's talk about Comombo first. Comombo requires that you first download its software. You can either do this directly to your phone or to your PC first. The Comombo software is free and turns your camera phone into a scanner. You can use the free software, or freeware, to photograph documents and turn those photos into optimized, compressed PDF files.
Comombo lets you send 10 fax pages for free, but after that you have to pay for the Internet faxing service. Comombo uses a prepaid system that doesn't require a monthly contract. The current price is ten euros (U.S. $14.40) for 50 fax pages to just about anywhere in the world. Under the Comombo pricing system, however, one fax page doesn't always equal one fax page. If you send a fax to Brazil, for example, one fax page is charged as two pages. And if you send a fax to Afghanistan, one page is charged as four.
Here's how you use Comombo to scan and fax a document with your camera phone:
- Take a picture of the document you want to scan, remembering the camera phone tips from the previous page.
- Open the Comombo software and select the picture you want to fax.
- The software then compresses the image file down to 20 to 80 KB, optimizing the image for maximum clarity.
- Enter the e-mail address and/or fax numbers of the people with whom you want to share the document. The software also has a built-in address book.
- Check the fax status from your phone.
The scanR service is very similar to Comombo, except that you can use it without software if you choose. ScanR's software package is called scanR Mobile and works very much like the Comombo software. If you want to bypass the software, here's how it works:
- Take a photo of the document you want to scan or fax with your camera phone.
- E-mail or MMS the photo to one of three different scanR addresses: one for documents, one for whiteboards and one for business cards.
- ScanR compresses and optimizes the image, creating a PDF. The PDF can either be e-mailed back to you or saved on the scanR Web site.
- To fax the document, include the fax number of the recipient in your original message or go to the scanR Web site and choose which PDF you want to fax.
- The same goes for e-mail. Include the e-mail address of the recipient in the original message to scanR or send it later through the scanR Web site.
The scanR billing system is a little different than Comombo. The software and basic scanning service is free. To send more than five faxes a month, you have to sign up for a scanR Pro account. For $2.99 a month, you can send unlimited faxes to over 200 countries.
These services are sure to change in the future as new improvements are continuously being made to phones.
For more information on camera phones and related topics, check out the links below.