What is the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP? The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP integrates into one easy to install Plug and Play product, Creative Labs' best-selling, industry standard Sound Blaster™ 16 sound card, 4 watt amplifier, a high speed 33.6 Kbps data/fax/voice modem and a n IDE CD-ROM controller. With a single product, users will be able to:
The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP represents the Next Generation of high performance, multimedia-aware, Computer Telephony products as part of Creative Labs' overall strategy to provide a single stop solution for communications and multi media needs.
Computer Telephony Integration: The HistoryComputer Telephony Integration (CTI) is a phrase that is becoming increasingly common in the computer industry, but what exactly does it mean? Very simply, comprises all the fancy telephone functions that used to be the exclusive domain of stand alone office equipment and expensive PBX systems. Up until the late 1980's, computer telephony was limited to simple modems which could be used for data exchange and access to text-based bulletin board systems (BBS) and commercial online services.
With transmission rates averaging 300 bps, a good speed reader could easily keep up with scrolling text. Files larger than a few dozen kilobytes in size could take hours to send and receive. In 1986, users who wanted to take advantage of "High Speed" modems, and were willing to pay several hundred dollars for the privilege, could get speeds up to 2,400 bps. The ability to send or receive faxes was still an expensive option and the idea of using a personal computer as an answering machine, much less a sophisticated voice mail system with multiple mailboxes and the ability to route calls was unheard of. In 1996, it is impossible to get a modem which doesn't have fax send/receive capabilities (supported by a myriad of third party fax applications); the entry level speed of 14,400 bps; and voice mail and sound capabilities are increasingly common features on new systems.
CTI: The MarketIn the past ten years, the number of small and home-based businesses has skyrocketed, and the need for personal computers to handle more and more telephony functions has grown proportionally. According to a recent study by IDC, "the PC is already playing an important role as a communications device, with more and more consumers and small businesses using modems and LANs for applications ranging from Internet access to remote LAN access and telecommuting. IDC expects that computing and communications technologies will become so pervasive as to make them invisible to users."
That same IDC study showed that "the consumer, home office and small business markets have become primary markets" with close to 65% of new PC shipments in 1996 going to home and small business customers, including the rapidly growing SOHO (Small Office Home Office) market and Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) is a critical component of those sales. According to Christopher Thompson, Principal Analyst at Dataquest, "The CTI market is expected to reach 7.9 billion dollars by 1999 of which 3.7 billion will come directly from products targeted at the knowledge worker and SOHO market." Recognizing that not only is telephony becoming increasingly important to the SOHO market, but that telephony features like message recording and playback and speakerphone capabilities work best with a high quality sound card like the standard-setting Sound Blaster™, it was only natural that Creative Labs was one of the first companies to introduce a single board product that combined state of the art voice mail technology with Creative Labs' award winning sound technology. The result was the top selling Phone Blaster™.
With the introduction of Windows 95, the technology bar was raised again. Incorporating requests and suggestions from our customers and the industry's leading analysts and consultants, Creative Labs created a second generation Phone Blaster™, designed from ground up to take full advantage of the power of Windows 95.
Working With Microsoft: The Development Of The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP
Telephone Applications Programmer's Interface (TAPI)The creation of the Phone Blaster went hand in hand with the development of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system. In 1994, Microsoft, which had worked closely with Creative Labs to establish the Multimedia standards for the use of sound within Windows, approached Creative Labs about joining forces to determine the criteria for what would ultimately become the Telephone Applications Programmer's Interface (TAPI). This is a series of tools, standards and protocols to enable software and hardware developers to create telephony products for use under Windows 95.
Together, the engineers at Creative Labs and Microsoft came up with a shopping list of the features and capabilities they felt were critical to meet the telephony demands of the growing SOHO market. Some features were obvious: voice mail products must, at the very least, function like a digital answering machine, as well as distinguish whether incoming calls are voice, fax or data. In addition, the engineers wanted to include in the TAPI standard a way to integrate with new services offered by many loc al telephone companies, like Caller ID and Call Forwarding; the ability for multiple TAPI compliant communications programs to share the same COM port and more.
Once TAPI was finalized, products had to be created which would demonstrate this new standard. The Phone Blaster™ was designated by Microsoft as the hardware reference platform for the development of TAPI compliant software. With the introduction of Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP, Creative Labs and Microsoft brought the TAPI standard to an even higher level, including Plug and Play hardware installation and configuration and the ability for all messages, whether fax, voice, data or e-ma il, should be able to be accessed from a single in-box, Microsoft Exchange, among other features.
Working from the TAPI features list that had been jointly developed with Creative Labs, Microsoft's programmers created Microsoft Phone, the first fully TAPI compliant total telephony software developed specifically for Windows 95 and designed to integrate standard Windows 95 features like Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Fax. Because Microsoft Phone requires a completely TAPI compliant telephony board, Microsoft will not be marketing Microsoft Phone as a retail product. It will only be available to users purchasing TAPI telephony products with MS Phone bundled in. Creative Labs' Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP is the first product on the market available with Microsoft Phone.
Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP Features
Board DesignSingle Board Design: The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP combines the functions of three boards onto a single unit: a 33.6 Kbps voice/fax/modem, IDE CD-ROM controller and genuine Sound Blaster 16 sound card. Not only does this simplify the installation process for the user, but for those people using systems with only 2 or 3 ISA slots available, it frees up valuable space.
True Plug and Play Design: The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP conforms to Microsoft's Plug and Play specifications, making installation a snap. There are no jumpers or DIP switches to adjust. Under Windows 95, your system automatically recognizes and configures the hardware for you. For people using Windows 3.X, Creative Labs includes a utility to bring Plug and Play functionality to older systems to make setting up the Phone Blaster 33.6 PnP a snap.
SoundBuilt-in Sound Blaster 16: All voice mail modems work best when used with sound cards. By incorporating a genuine Sound Blaster 16 as a component of the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP, the user is assured of the maximum level of compatibility with sound applications both in DOS and Windows. The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP includes all the popular features of the Sound Blaster 16, including 16 bit digital audio, both 8 and 16 bit stereo sampling and playback, sampling rates from 5-44. 1 kHz, audio connectors for an internal CD-ROM and more.
Microphone Included: Microphone selection is often a critical factor in voice mail systems. The wrong microphone could mean fuzzy or garbled sound for both outgoing voice mail messages and when the product is used as a speakerphone, yet many competing products force the user to provide their own microphone and hope that it's one which will provide acceptable performance. The microphone included with the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP was selected to provide crystal clear sound on for all voice applications. It's adjustable swivel base makes it easy for users place the microphone in whatever position best suits their needs.
Full Duplex Support: Because the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP can play one set of sounds at the same time a different set of sounds are coming in, the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP is ideal for popular telephony features like speakerphone and Internet telephone services. (See below under Voice and Software)
Upgradeable Wave Table Sound: While the standard features of the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP, including clear, clean .WAV and CD playback are perfect for most SOHO applications, those people making extensive use of the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP's MIDI synthesizer have the option of adding Wave Table daughter cards, like Creative Labs' popular Wave Blaster II. The Wave Blaster II is based on the same sophisticated wave table technology Creative Labs' EMU division has been providing demanding professional musicians for many years.
Built-In Power Amplifier: The 4 watt per channel amp enables users to work with a wider variety of multimedia speakers, both powered and unpowered, giving greater flexibility.
ModemHigh Speed Throughput: 33.6 Kbps data speed with throughput up to 115.2 Kbps (using industry standard data compression protocols) for lightning fast data transmission through analog phone lines. With 33.6 comes improved reliability at all data rat es between 33.6 and 14.4.
Automatic COM Port Selection: Thanks to Plug and Play technology, the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP features automatic support for any COM port between COM 1 and COM 8, as well IRQ selections 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 and 15. The Plug and Play feature quickly and easily configures the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP according to what resources are in use and available on your system, without requiring any jumper or DIP switch setting changes, making installation as easy as plugging in the board , starting Windows 95 and following the on-screen prompts.
Rockwell Modem Technology: Creative Labs chose Rockwell's Data/Fax/Voice technology both for its proven reliability and its broad, industry-wide support, including having the largest selection of third party software support of any voice modem on t he market.
Universal Software Support: The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP is fully compatible with industry standard AT command set, Microsoft's TAPI telephony standards, Rockwell voice, and both Class 1 and Class 2 fax modem command sets, so that users can work with virtually any popular third party communications, fax, voice mail and TAPI applications.
Automatic Call Discrimination: The Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP can detect whether an incoming call is a voice message, fax or data transmission and automatically switches into the appropriate mode. For people who use one line for both fax and voice, this eliminates the need for an external switching device.
FaxFax-On-Demand: Frequently requested documents can be easily and automatically faxed back to callers. This frees up personnel for other tasks, improves the users' ability to provide good customer service for their clients, and helps small businesses appear to be bigger by providing the kind of sophisticated caller response services previously only available to large companies.
Fax Forwarding: Once a fax is received, it can be resent anywhere you want without re-scanning the received document. This feature is especially valuable when a received fax needs to be re-distributed. For users who are out in the field, faxes ca n even be forwarded to where they are by simply calling in for messages and tapping in a few keys on a touch tone phone.
VoiceChoice of Voice Mail Software: In the past, users of voice mail products have been pretty much restricted to the software bundled with their modems. Creative Labs includes two fully featured voice mail applications, Supervoice 2.2b for Windows 3.1 and Microsoft Phone for Windows 95. In addition, since the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP uses the Rockwell Voice Modem chip set, the most widely supported voice standard in the industry, it is fully compatible with a wide variety of third party voice mail software.
Full Duplex Speakerphone: Hands free operation allows users to talk and work at their computer at the same time. The full-duplex capabilities of the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP, in combination with its echo cancellation technology, enables people on both ends of a telephone conversation to talk at the same time and still be heard clearly.
Professional Voice Mail: More than just a fancy answering machine, up to 1,000 separate mailboxes can be set up for different people, fax-on-demand (see Fax above), data and more. Standard voice mail instructions have been professionally pre-recorded to easily navigate callers through your system.
Pager Notification: Instead of periodically calling in to see if you have messages, both Supervoice and Microsoft Phone can be set to automatically call your pager when messages come in, so that you can hear and respond to your incoming voice mail in a timely manner when you are away from your office/home.
Software: Microsoft PhoneIntegrates With Microsoft Exchange: Users have only one place to check for incoming messages, whether they are by fax, voice, or e-mail: the Microsoft Exchange Inbox.
Voice Synthesis: Users can call in for messages and not only hear voice mail, but e-mail messages and fax headers as well in their choice of several male or female voices. This feature can also be used to read any Windows document.
Microsoft Voice: Thanks to Microsoft's speaker-independent, natural language speech recognition technology, voice commands can be used to open and close applications, run macros, switch from one application to another without touching the keyboard.
Separate Speed Dial Lists: Separate speed dial lists for Business, Personal, Family and Miscellaneous each hold up to 10 of your most frequently called phone numbers which can be called up by keyboard, mouse or voice command.
Call Forwarding: When callers connect to select mailboxes, Microsoft Phone can be set to automatically forward those calls to any number you choose. For example, if you are expecting an important call, but will be in a different location at the time, Call Forwarding means you can still be reached directly. In a different scenario, for SOHO environments with multiple phone lines, but no PBX-style switchboard, Call Forwarding can be used to re-direct calls to specific individuals within your organization. (Note: User must subscribe to their local telephone company's Call Forwarding service in order to utilize this feature.)
MAPI Compliant: In addition to its own phone books, Microsoft Phone can use phone numbers from any application using a MAPI-complaint address book. Microsoft Phone will also comfortably share the COM port with any other MAPI compliant communications/ telephony application.
Software: Supervoice 2.2bCompatible With Older Systems: The minimum hardware requirements for Supervoice are relatively modest: 386DX-25 or faster, 4MB RAM, 6 MB free hard drive space, Windows 3.1 (or Win95) and MS-DOS 3.3 (or later). Because of this, even people with 5 or 6 year old systems can take advantage of the powerful, yet easy to use capabilities of Supervoice.
Distinctive Ring Support: Supervoice supports up to three different Distinctive Ring settings on the same line. If you are using a single line, you can dedicate separate phone numbers to voice, fax and/or data calls. Supervoice will automatically answer in the correct mode for each kind of call and you won't have to pick up the phone and hear a fax tone screeching in your ear. (Note: You must subscribe to Distinctive Ring service from your local telephone company.)
Launch Comm Programs: Most voice mail applications completely take over whichever COM port your modem is attached to. As a result, when you want to access the Internet or popular online services like America Online or CompuServe, you must either s hut down the voice mail program (and remember to re-launch it when you're done) or have a second modem attached to your computer. You can launch any communications program you want from within Supervoice so that you can access whatever online service you want while your voice mail program continues to run in the background.
Music On Hold: When using the speakerphone, there may be times when you want to put the party on the other end on Hold. Supervoice can be configured to play tracks from a compact disc, .WAV or MIDI files, including pre-recorded announcement s (via .WAV file). Callers get something pleasant to listen to instead of dead air while on hold. Music On Hold also enhances your professional image by providing a feature normally associated with large corporate phone systems.
Other Bundled SoftwareWebPhone (Creative Edition): A professional, real-time, full duplex, point-to-point voice communications system that allows you to call anyone on Earth by voice who has Internet access and WebPhone.
Microsoft Internet Explorer: The latest version (2.0) of Microsoft's award-winning Web browser features full support for HTML 3.0, plug-ins and more. Designed from the ground up to take advantage of Windows 95, Microsoft Internet Explorer i s easy to use, fully compatible with all major Internet standards, including security standards, and can incorporate upcoming enhancements as they become available.
Creative Multimedia Deck: Control playback of all of the different types of audio your Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP can produce: MIDI, digital audio (.WAV files) and CD audio. You control every aspect of the sound, including bass, treble, pan, volume and more. Creative WaveStudio Creative Labs' fully featured .WAV file editing program supports drag and drop functionality, quick loading screen updates, and sound enhancements like echo, fade, amplification, reverse and more.
Creative Soundo'LE: Embed 8 or 16 bit digital audio files in any Windows document that supports Object Linking and Embedding (OLE). Great for annotating spreadsheets, documents, e-mail or presentations.
Whether you'll be using the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP under Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, prior to installation, please check the README file located on the audio software installation disk for any updated information, including possible modifications since the manual was printed. Detailed installation instructions will be found in the booklet entitled "Getting Started" included with the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP.
If you are using an IDE CD-ROM drive, you may wish to take advantage of the built-in CD-ROM controller on the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP. Check the instructions included with your CD-ROM drive to determine if the CD-ROM drive is on IDE interface as well as the CD audio connectors on the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP.
For optimal performance, your computer should have the following:
Setting Up the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP Under Windows 95Because of its Plug and Play design, there are no hardware settings that need to be checked or changed on the board itself. On most systems, Windows 95 will automatically allocate system resources, including interrupts, DMA channels and COM ports*. Once the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP has been physically installed in your system (including all connecting cables, speakers, microphone, etc.), power up your computer and let Windows 95 automatically detect the new hardware. Sound and Phone Blaster™ drivers are available on the CD-ROM included with the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP.
The telephony and sound applications are all located on the CD-ROM included with the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP. This CD supports Windows 95's Auto/Play mode and will automatically start up as soon as you put it in the CD-ROM drive. Here you can choose which applications you want to install. The default will be Microsoft Phone, but you have the option of installing SuperVoice instead of or in addition to Microsoft Phone. Whatever you choose, just follow the onscreen prompts and wizards and you are on your way.
*There may be configuration difficulties under Windows 95 with systems using early versions of Intel's Plug and Play BIOS specifications. Should any portion of the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP not install properly, please call technical support for assistance.
Setting Up the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP Under Windows 3.1Installation on a Windows 3.1 system is very similar to the Plug and Play system. Once the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP has been physically installed and all the cables connected, simply put the Creative Labs Plug & Play Configuration Manager disk in your floppy drive, install the software and follow the onscreen prompts. The PnP Configuration Manager will take care of configuring your Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP for your computer system.
Drivers for the Sound Blaster™ functions of the board, as well as Creative Labs' suite of sound utilities (see Other Bundled Software in the Features section above) and SuperVoice can be found on the CD-ROM included with the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP.
|For Technical Support:|
|On the World Wide Web:||http://www.creativelabs.com|
|On CompuServe:||Go Creative|
Product ComparisonSome of the key features which set the Phone Blaster™ 33.6 PnP apart from the competition include:
|Company||Creative Labs||Best Data||Boca Research||Boca Research||Diamond Multimedia Systems||Spectrum Signal Processing|
|Product||Phone Blaster 33.6 PnP||ACE||V.34 Boca Office Communicator||Sound Expression 28.8SRS||TeleCommander 2/3500XL||Office F/X|
|Maximum number of Mailboxes||1,000 (unlimited for MS Phone)||10||90||90||10,000,000||100,000|
|Multiple outgoing messages||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Fax on demand||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No|
|Modem speed||33.6 Kbps||14.4 Kbps||28.8 Kbps||28.8 Kbps||14.4/28.8 Kbps||28.8 Kbps|
|Full duplex speakerphone||Yes||Extra||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Sound card function||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|