User Hostile Hardware

It's time for manufacturers to learn that consumers are running out of patience with hardware that's difficult to get up and running. ScanFX by PlusTek (800 685-8088) would be a nifty addition to many systems if it were easier to install. The $600 unit is a color scanner that features a fax machine-style front panel. This allows you to use your computer's fax modem with the same ease as a stand-alone fax.

Using ScanFX is simple, but setting it up may require moving tiny clips, called "jumpers," on a circuit board installed in your computer. And getting the configuration right is a trial-and-error process. I had to remove the board to change the setting three times before I got it right. Easier-to-install hardware comes with programs that lead you through menus that configure without touching jumpers or switches. Buyers should demand no less.

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