Fax Machines Buyers Guide
Introduction: The are many new gadgets coming out a...
Fax Machines Buyers Guide
The are many new gadgets coming out all of the time for the home and office, but one has remained relatively the same, the fax machine. The popularity of the fax machine has seemed to have waned a bit with the increasing use of email and text messaging, but it's still a very useful product that I predict will be around for quite a while no matter what else comes along to try and replace it. There's nothing like holding an actual material document in your hand to show you've received something, or to have proof if you need it.
Fax machines are not only for office or home office use though, they can be very useful in a home setting as well, especially the multi-function type of fax machines where you can hook them to your computer and use them as a printer, copier or a scanner.
I myself have a nice Brother brand of fax machine, it's called a multi-function machine though because of the many things it can do, but it is still primarily a fax machine. My fax machine has a separate phone attached to it so I can pick up the handset to make or receive calls, this was one of the major deciding features on purchasing this particular product, sure I could have got one for cheaper without the phone capabilities but I felt I needed them as it's nice to have a land line phone near me at all times. The model I purchased can be a stand alone fax machine, or I can hook it to my computer via USB for printing, scanning and fax via PC capabilities, it even includes the ability to copy and voice mail as well, it truly is a multi-function device and something that I use quite often. I personally might send/receive twenty or less faxes per year, but considering that it would most likely cost me several dollars if I went outside to do the same thing, it's well worth it to me for the convenience of having the fax machine in my home.
With the waning popularity of stand alone fax machines, companies have decided to integrate other features like scanning, copying, printing etc into their products to make them that much more attractive to the end consumer. This of course both good and bad for the consumer in that some companies will take their base fax machine, combine it with cheap components to make it a multi-functional device and charge a very high premium for the end product.
The idea of the fax machine is that so you can send documents over long distances almost instantaneously where if you mailed them it would be days before the other party got the documents and in our society where we constantly thrive for instant gratification the fax machine was a godsend really to most concerned. At this point in time though the actual stand alone fax machine is mostly extinct in favor of electronic means of communications like email, some companies have network fax system where they are connected to the internet and they receive their faxes that way and they can be printed out or just stored electronically as an email would be.
If you have a need to purchase a stand alone fax machine then you're choices are going to be limited, but they are still available to you, as the multi-functional machines are quickly replacing the stand alone variety of fax machines.
The things you'll want to look at when purchasing a fax machine or even a multi-function machine are:
Type of printing:
Laser, inkjet or thermal transfer type of printing
-Thermal transfer type uses thermally active special paper to print the document, the quality is usually poor and not much of a lifespan
-Laser printing is just that, it uses laser to print the documents, these usually use plain paper but the laser toner cartridges are generally expensive, but they last quite a while
-Inkjet is just like a standard inkjet printer, it sprays ink onto paper to create the document, this of course can get costly when buying ink refills especially if it's a color fax machine since most use separate cartridges for the colors.
Type of paper and quantity:
The type of paper the machine uses is something else you should consider when purchasing, and also the quantity of paper the machine can hold depending on your use for the machine. If a machine uses standard paper then it will be easy to get refills, but if it uses thermal transfer paper it costs more and might have to be specially ordered. Also, of course if you need to use larger than standard A4 paper you might want to make sure the machine can handle the larger styles of paper, as not all will be able to handle every size of paper.
Speed of the Machine:
This not only applies to the actual speed of the modem inside the machine but also the speed at which the machine can print the documents. Believe it or not some fax machines are slower than others when transmitting and receiving faxes, and who wants to wait minutes for a document to print out when it might take seconds on another machine?!
The resolution or the quality of the fax is something else to take into consideration, many higher end models offer several resolution choices, where lower end models might not. If your documents need to be very clear and legible you might want to look for a machine with high resolution capabilities.
Color or Black & White:
This might seem like something obvious, but many fax machines only print in black and white or gray scales so if you need color documents make sure you pay attention to this specification.
Here's another point that is often overlooked, the internal memory of the fax machine can hold only so many documents, if you happen to run out of paper the machine will hold the faxes in memory to print at a later time so if you receive many faxes you might want to check the memory capacity of the device to make sure you'll have enough space and not miss an important document.
Features of the product:
This is kind of separate from the actual important things to look at when buying a fax machine but many people like feature rich products.
Most all fax machines have a built in separate phone or handset, with this of course comes basic features like speed dial, call waiting and caller id, but not all will have those features and some will have even more like the ability to forward your faxes to your email.
If you're going to use your fax machine as a primary phone you might want to look at the available features of the product and figure out what you need. Do you need to store many speed dial numbers? Then make sure to check to see the capacity. Some fax machines even include voice mail built right into them so if you need that feature you'll have to look for it as it is not a standard option.
There are numerous other features to look at as well like the ability to scan and copy documents, or even the ability to print photo quality pictures if the device yo are looking at is a multi-function type that can might be used in your home.
The 'new' fax machines out there today are not much different than the first ones that came out years ago, they've just added more features and got a bit faster, but with a good mutli-function fax machine you can replace several stand alone product with just one that does all you need it to do.
Once you've figured out what you need in a fax machine then you'll need to do some research to find exactly the one you want and then start comparing different models and manufactures to see which on is right for you. A stand alone fax machine can be expensive as can a multi-function machine so it's not something that you want to take lightly, and of course the fax machine is a tool for business as well, you don't want to skimp on things like that.
Research though places like Testfreaks and other online and even offline sources can be invaluable to the consumer in that objective third party reviews will tell you things the manufacturer won't. Reviews will also tell you if the product in question meets the specifications listed for it, it might not actually print at twenty pages per minute as the company says the product will, but you won't know that until you bring it home and try it out, so that's were product testers come in, and their reviews of products. Be sure to check around and see what others have to say about a product as well, you can learn a lot from just average people and their experiences.Close