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What to Look for in a Fax Machine
By Jimi St. Pierre

You might think that all fax machines are more or less the same, but the difference between a good purchase and an ideal purchase is in the details.

These days you are faced with massive range of fax machines from market-leading brands such as Canon and Panasonic. There are entry-level models or high usage, high specification internet-capable fax machines which double as office workflow systems.

Which Fax machine? - Some Basic Considerations

A major development over recent years has been to demise of the thermal paper fax roll in favour of plain paper systems. This has brought the twin huge benefits of no-fade document storage and avoids the need to maintain supplies of expensive thermal paper.

In terms of additional functionality such as speaker phones and digital answering machines, fax machines can offer such features as caller ID, auto redial, fax forwarding, polling, and speed dialing.

Transmission Speeds

A major factor to consider when deciding on what price range to go for, is the planned usage for your new fax machine. A lower-cost machine usually offers slower transmission speeds, which is fine for occasional use, but can become less acceptable for large volume. A fax machine that can transmit at faster speeds - say 14,400 bits per second (bps) and which uses the Modified Modified Read (MMR) compression standard will make sure that your faxes will be sent at least 50 percent more quickly than 9,600 bps system (assuming there is another 14,400 bps system at the other end. The result is lower phone bills and better availability of the fax machine for all users. 33,600 bps speeds are also available, making the savings even greater over time.

Other factors

Other important considerations are the available memory in the fax machine, so that pages are not lost if the fax runs out of paper, and perhaps a healthy sized paper tray to reduce the risk of running out of paper at times of unattended use - for example at weekends or overnight.

If you are planning a more radical overhaul of your office equipment needs, now might be the time to consider and all-in-one device which will incorporate fax functionality with print, copy and / or scanning requirements. These so-called "multifunctional devices"or "mfds" are offered by all major office equipment suppliers.

Jimi St. Pierre writes for several Office Equipment suppliers and Travel Companies in the UK, including fax machine supplier Officemagic, the Car Parking Group and Tourist Office Directory Country Connect, the latter being a publisher of a daily news feed to the UK travel industry via the Virgin Media Traveleye extranet.

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