Office Equipment – Fax Machines & Combined Units

Last Updated
August 22, 2009

Fax Machines

Just like e-mail, fax machines will provide you with a fast way of sending/receiving information. You may feel that sending faxes isn’t something that will be done frequently by your business, but you have to think about businesses that may want to send a fax to you.

Fax machines are available with a number of different printing options; thermal, inkjet, and laser.

Thermal/Cassette faxes use a ribbon to print, this produces very low cost, but fairly low quality faxes. Inkjet faxes print in the same way as inkjet printers, with a fairly low cost per sheet, but with much better quality than thermal printing. Laser faxes print in the same way as laser printers, providing a low cost per sheet, and high quality printing.

For low use, a thermal fax is probably the cheapest option; for medium use, (or if you want a better quality print) an inkjet fax will be the best choice; for high usage, a laser fax will save you money in the long run.

Fax machines work with two different paper types; plain paper and roll. A plain paper machine prints incoming faxes onto standard paper, whereas a roll machine prints onto special fax paper rolls. Plain paper normally gives a better quality print, and is now the most common type of fax available. The only real advantage of fax rolls is that long or numerous faxes (e.g. Reports, customer / order lists, etc) are not split up onto several sheets of paper.

The speed in which a fax sends and receives depends on the speed of its modem. The standard speed is 14.4kb per second, and will send an average fax in under 10 seconds (depending on the speed of the receiving fax), although some top of the range faxes have speeds of up to 36.6kb. Be careful of cheaper faxes with 9.6kb or lower modems, especially if you send and receive large numbers of faxes.

Fax machines can also be used as your telephone and can be picked up from as little as £80 depending on quality. You can also use a PC and scanner as a fax machine, sending the fax over the internet which arrives in the normal way through the receivers fax machine.

See Combined Units (below) for more information on money saving and efficiency.

Combined Units

When buying equipment, there are several different ways in which you can save costs by buying combined units, which function as more than one piece of equipment. Here are the most relevant types of combined unit.

Printer / Scanner / Copier

If you are looking to buy a printer and a scanner, you could do a lot worse than look at a ‘three in one’ unit. These combine a printer with a scanner; allowing you to print, scan, and make photocopies by automatically printing the scan as it is made. These units m ainly use colour inkjet printing, with a small number using black laser printing.

A combined unit generally offers good value for money if you require both a scanner and printer, as well as reducing the space and number of connections you need to take up. As the units are combined, you must be careful that you are still getting a decent quality product (particularly the printer part). Some of the cheaper combined units have poor quality printing or single cartridge set-ups, which will cost you money in the long run.

If however, the unit is of a good quality, then a combined unit is a convenient way to solve three problems in one go. A reasonable combined printer, scanner, and copier will cost from around £70 upwards.

Printer / Scanner / Copier / Fax

There are also a number of combined models that also feature a fax machine capability. These are essentially a scanner, a printer, and a fax machine combined, allowing you to print, scan, and fax, as well as make copies.

The quality of the scanner varies considerably in these units, some provide a high quality colour scanner, while others provide very basic greyscale (shades of black) scanning only. They are available as colour inkjet or laser printer; although there are presently no colour laser combined units (the cost would be too high to make them viable).

A reasonable model with print, scan, copy, and fax facilities will cost from about £110 upwards.

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Article Index

  1. Office Equipment - Technology in Small Business
  2. Office Laptops, Modems, Monitors, Keyboards and Virus Software
  3. Office Equipment - Printers & Ink Cartridges
  4. Office Equipment - Scanners & Photocopiers
  5. Fax Machines and Combined
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