Access email by phone from a hotel, airport, car or your home. No longer need to carry a notebook computer to access email when travelling. Use Mail Rules to have VoiceLink contact you when important messages arrive.
As an introductory special, Black Labs is offering a 20% discount on user licenses and including the Mail Rules extension FREE of charge throughout November and December. With the Mail Rules extension, VoiceLink will monitor your mailbox for messages you have described and contact you by phone or pager when one arrives.
FirstClass VoiceLink Frequently Asked Questions
What is FirstClass VoiceLink? FirstClass VoiceLink is a powerful communications client that adds both telephony and intelligent assistant services to your FirstClass system. The principal telephony service provided by VoiceLink is the ability to listen to your FirstClass email and voice messages over the telephone. You can also send voice mail messages to other FirstClass users from the telephone. These messages can then be delivered around the world using FirstClass gateways. Because VoiceLink creates voice mail messages as email messages with sound attachments, these attachments can be played on either the PC or the Macintosh by option-clicking on them. Because VoiceLink routes your voice mail messages through your own FirstClass mailbox, you have a record of all the voice mail messages that you have sent and received. You can do anything with these voice mail messages that you can with email messages: check their history either from your computer or the phone, forward them to other users, post them to a conference, delete them or archive them to a separate folder.
What intelligent assistant features does VoiceLink offer? VoiceLink will monitor your mailbox for you looking for messages from a particular individual or individuals, on a particular subject or of a particular priority (i.e., urgent messages) and notify you by either phone, pager or fax when a message that meets your "rules" arrives in your mailbox.
In the near future, when VoiceLink adds database access, it will allow even more powerful intelligent assistant features. For example, you can request that VoiceLink fax to your home or hotel each night a summary of sales figures for your company for that day.
As SoftArc adds group scheduling and calendaring features to FirstClass, VoiceLink will add even more innovative intelligent assistant features such as the ability to immediately notify you by phone or pager if a meeting that you were planning to attend was canceled or rescheduled or to fax you your schedule for the next day.
What are the advantages of the unified messaging model employed by VoiceLink, i.e., having voice mail messages integrated with email messages? Besides the obvious benefits of having only one place to look for all your messages and having to learn only one set of operating instructions, VoiceLink allows you to do all the things with voice mail messages that FirstClass allows you to do with email messages, archive them, forward them to others, post them to conferences so that multiple people can listen to them. In addition, voice messages left by other FirstClass users have a "from" field that indicates who the message is from. You can quickly scan your mailbox either from a computer or from the telephone looking for particular messages.
How big are VoiceLink's voice messages? Voice messages are between 3000 and 10000 bytes per second depending on the quality level selected by the administrator of your VoiceLink system. In addition, the maximum recording time of voice messages can be limited to restrict their maximum size. In the near future, VoiceLink will add state of the art CELP compression to reduce the size of messages to 1000 bytes per second and still provide high quality playback.
What other services does VoiceLink offer? The basic VoiceLink system provides you with traditional voice mail services. You can record a custom greeting message and then have the caller select from a menu of options that can include hearing information on various subjects and leaving messages for particular individuals or departments in an organization. Voice messages left for a particular department can be posted to a conference and shared by all the people in the department. Because of the history record kept with these messages by FirstClass, individuals in the department can verify who has heard the message and when.
The first release of VoiceLink includes three add on options. The mail rules interface allows you to configure VoiceLink to periodically look at your mailbox and notify you if a message from a particular person, on a particular subject or of a particular priority arrives. These "rules" can be activated for a limited time or indefinitely. Each user can have up to 5 rules active at any time. Notification is by means of the telephone or by fax or pager if the fax or pager interfaces are installed. Mail rules can be updated either from your computer or from the phone.
The fax interface provides the features of a fax gateway but also provides "fax back" features allowing telephone callers to be faxed information from a menu of choices provided when VoiceLink answers the phone. In addition, when you log into your FirstClass account and are listening to messages, you can chose to have selected messages faxed to you. Finally, VoiceLink can notify you by fax when a message meeting one of your rules arrives in your mailbox. The fax interface will be available in early 1997.
The pager interface provides the features of a pager gateway but also provides pager notification when a message meeting one of your mail rules arrives in your mailbox. The pager interface supports numeric pagers and will soon support alpha-numeric pagers. If your pager is numeric, VoiceLink pages you with the rule number that was satisfied, the number of messages that satisfy that rule, the total number of unread text messages and the total number of unread voice messages in your mailbox. If your pager is alpha-numeric, VoiceLink provides additional information about who the message is from, how big it is and what its subject is.
What are the hardware and software requirements of VoiceLink? VoiceLink requires a 25mhz 68030 or faster Macintosh running a version of System 7 with a network connection to communicate with your FirstClass servers. One VoiceLink can communicate with any number of FirstClass servers. VoiceLink also requires a "voice enabled" modem which is available for about $30 more than a comparable non voice modem. Contact Black Labs for information on specific modem model numbers and manufacturers. VoiceLink will run on a 16Mhz 68030 Macintosh such as an SE30 but it is not recommended (too slow).
How expensive is VoiceLink? The entry level VoiceLink system is $500 which includes a five user license. In larger configurations, the system is priced between $15 and $40 per user.
The three add on options, mail rules interface, fax interface and pager interface are priced at $300 each regardless of the system size.
Is this pricing competitive with other unified messaging systems? The pricing of FirstClass VoiceLink is considerably less than other systems. Other systems offering comparable services cost between $15 and $150 per user plus an initial hardware/software bundle that costs between $5000 and $15,000. FirstClass VoiceLink is priced along the traditional FirstClass model, a low entry price for smaller system users and a diminishing cost per user for larger systems.
Why does it take a whole Macintosh computer to support one phone line? VoiceLink makes heavy use of synthetic speech when answering the phone. This synthetic speech is generated in real time as your email messages are being read to you. This real time text-to-speech conversion currently requires the full processing power of the Macintosh computer. Black Labs is currently investigating ways of supporting multiple phone lines on one computer by adding an I/O card with multiple processors and support for multiple phone lines or eliminating the requirement for a computer altogether by developing a network speech processing box.
I need to support several phone lines. How do I do this? Currently, you need to have one Macintosh computer and a copy of VoiceLink for each phone line. Contact Black Labs for special pricing when using multiple phone lines.
I have computers in multiple locations connected by the Internet. Can a single VoiceLink serve all of them? Yes. As long as VoiceLink can make a network connection with a FirstClass server it doesn't matter if that server is located in the same room as VoiceLink or in a different country.
Why did Black Labs chose to make such heavy use of synthetic speech in VoiceLink? Although many other voice mail systems make extensive use of recorded speech, Black Labs is a big believer in the potential of synthetic speech. Using synthetic speech allows the VoiceLink system to be easily customized by the user without recording any messages at all except for the optional recorded greeting message. Finally, Black Labs believes synthetic speech will soon improve to the point that it will be indistinguishable from recorded human speech.
VoiceLink $500 Includes a 5 user license. $75 Voice modem
User licenses Number Cost Per user 5 $200 $40.00 10 $350 $35.00 25 $750 $30.00 50 $1,250 $25.00 100 $2,000 $20.00 200 $3,000 $15.00 Unlimited Available
20% Discount on User Licenses Discount at initial purchase only. Number Cost Per user Total w/ VoiceLink Total Per User 5 $160 $32.00 $660 $132 10 $280 $28.00 $780 $78 25 $600 $24.00 $1,100 $44 50 $1,000 $20.00 $1,500 $30 100 $1,600 $16.00 $2,100 $21 200 $2,400 $12.00 $2,900 $15 Unlimited Available
VoiceLink Extensions Mail Rules with Notification by Phone and Numeric Pager $300 Additional VoiceLink application (same site, same users) $300
VoiceLink Extensions available in 1997 Alpha-Numeric Pager Notify for Mail Rules and Alpha-Numeric Pager Gateway $300 Fax Back and Fax Gateway $300 Database Access $300
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