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Business Fax Machines - Selecting Business Fax Machines: A Primer - Base Design, Features

faxing internet faxes pages

Despite widespread digital communication, fax machines continue to be a valuable tool for businesses large and small. They are particularly important in legal matters, as they allow contracts and other documents to be completed at any distance. Advances in printing and computing technology have served to advance the small but essential realm of faxing, providing a great variety of options for companies seeking business fax machines. Three features determine the base design including thermal, inkjet, and laserjet.

Base Design

The first step of choosing a fax machine is choosing a base design. Choosing the design of a fax machine is like choosing a printer, and anyone familiar with printing technology will already be familiar with the concerns of this step.

Thermal fax machines are a dying breed. First invented in the 1970s, these devices print on specialized paper that darkens when exposed to heat. Though innovative at the time, this technology brought with it a host of headaches, including short shelf life, low printing quality, curled documents, and lamination disasters. Thermal fax paper cannot be recycled, and its distinctive chemical odor adds an extra dimension to its unpopularity. The only plus side to thermal fax machines are their price—thermal fax machines cost $50+ new or as low as $5 used.

Inkjet fax machines are a far more popular design for business fax machines. Armed with the same technology used by most desktop printers, these fax machines can print in color or black and white. Black and white cartridges are relatively inexpensive at $7-$15 each, while color cartridges will cost $20 or more. Overall, these fax machines will produce faxes at around 12 cents per page. The machines themselves are also rather affordable, starting at $40 for cheap models, $100 for standard fare, and as much as $300 for one loaded with special features (which will be discussed in the next session).

When a business anticipates a significant number of faxes, a laserjet fax machine is the optimal choice. Though the initial cost is more expensive at $500 to $3000, its overall yield is far more efficient than anything an inkjet can manage. Such machines generally cost 5 cents per page, and the toner cartridges will produce thousands of pages before needing to be replaced.

Furthermore, laserjet fax machines are often available as multifunction devices. Since the technologies for printing, copying, and faxing all involve similar hardware, it is possible to answer all three needs with one multifunctional device. From simple $300 fax/copiers to $60,000 all-in-one studio devices, such products are worth consideration when a business needs more than one device.

Lastly, those looking for an inexpensive internet alternative for relatively lightweight faxing needs can turn to internet faxing. Internet faxing requires an internet connection and a monthly fee which begins at the $15 range. The polar opposite of a multifunction device, internet faxing uses existing resources plus internet storage to emulate a fax machine and thus save space and money. Received faxes can be saved as PDF files or printed, and some internet fax companies even offer heightened security for the faxing of medical information.

In the following section, internet faxing will not be included, as it is too far removed from other concerns in buying business fax machines to fit within the scope of this article.

Features

Most fax machines list pages per minute before their other information. While a low volume fax machine will only yield five pages per minute, more robust models can yield as many as nineteen.

Memory determines how many faxes a fax machine can hold at one time. Extra memory can provide a buffer when faxes are coming in faster than the machine can print or when paper jams or outages halt functionality. A basic fax machine can store dozens of pages; larger ones can hold hundreds.

Many fax machines also offer extra time-saving features to appeal to certain buyers:

  • Wi-fi accessibility makes fax machines easier to move and network by linking in to existing wireless networks.
  • Auto redial is a common feature for both small and large fax machines. It promises to save man hours in the event of a busy signal.
  • Fax forwarding allows faxes to be rerouted directly to another fax number without having to feed the received copy back into the fax machine.
  • Scan to email is a multifunction option that works similarly to internet faxing, allowing files to be saved as PDFs.

The wide variety of business fax machines can provide for any business’s needs, and with prices ranging from $50 to $60,000, it can be easy to overspend. Those looking for business fax machines are advised to consider their expected fax volume, which is the primary factor in determining price. From there, additional features can allow for smart manipulation of fax data to further convenience their users.

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