Modern Fax Machines

In the 21st century we have incredible improvements over the type of fax machines we have available.

FOIP

The Fax Over IP is probably the newest and certainly the last type of fax machine that we will use. These work over the Internet. You send the fax to a system which converts the document to a Facsimile and sends it to the other side using a completely automated system.

However, these systems can also detect whether the machine on the other side is also a computer and in that case send it numerically instead of using an analog signal (old modems used various level of sound to send data). Also within one business, if the destination is within the same business, they can send the fax from one computer to the other and never actually use a fax machine.

In other words, the most modern systems are capable to send facsimile 100% through the Internet never using an analog phone lines.

One example of such a company is Phaxio. I like that company since you pay as you go making it very affordable.

Fax Farms

If you have a need to send and receive a very large number of faxes, it is generally going to be cheaper for you to own your own fax system.

The Cimsun Fax Server is used to create a small fax service in your small office. You can have up to 5 users connecting to the server simultaneously, making it possible for more than one person to send and receive faxes smoothly.

Such devices are directly connected to your network so your computers can directly and very quickly send the documents to the Cimsun fax server which then handles the phone connection to actually send the fax.

For large businesses, you may want to consider a large server. Cimsun offers Fax Server for 10 or even 100 users. In a large office, such as an Insurance Company, where many of your staff has to send and receive faxes, this is perfect.

The system comes with software you can install on your desktop. That software will allow you to track the faxes being sent and received.

Cimsun Fax Server (100 users)
This Cimsun Fax Server supports up to 100 users.

The Fax Server will manage the facsimiles which get sent serially. It can also receive facsimile. The system will automatically retry a fax that failed earlier. Also the whole system uses very little power (5 Watts).

The speed of the fax varies depending on the model you choose. The larger models go at 33.6kbps.

Multi-Function Machines

Now a day, small businesses purchase printers that are multi-functions. These generally include all of the follow features:

  • Black & White Printing
  • Color Printing
  • Double-sided Printing
  • Scanning
  • Duplex Scanning (both sides at once)
  • Scanning to a USB Drive
  • Photocopying
  • Double-sided Photocopying
  • And Faxing
  • Printing of Received Faxes

All major manufacturers offer such machines. On my end I have a Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdn from HP. I love that machine. It’s really perfect for a small office. It’s a normal laser printer with scanning and fax capabilities, all of which are single or double sided. The printing also supports full color.

For faxes, you’ll need to connect the machine to your phone line. Such machines are likely to be capable of storing one or more faxes to be sent and also a few that it receives until you retrieve them. They all come with advanced driver capabilities so all your software will instantly be capable of sending faxes.

Important Note

If you want to do double printing, with this MFP or another double printing printer, you much have a pretty heavy paper (24lb). Most paper (which is often 20lb) is not going to work for automatic double printing. (You can always turn the sheets and print on the other side, obviously). Also, for good quality color printing, it is highly recommended to have even heavier paper (26lb) as more ink gets printed and it is likely to go through the paper if too light.

Connectivity

Most modern printers will allow for all types of connectivity:

  • Telephone Line (for the fax)
  • Ethernet via an RJ-45 connector
  • WiFi
  • BluTooth

I have not seen many printers accepting BluTooth. I would imagine that such connections would be rather slow. WiFi is pretty common, however.

On my end, I bought the HP model without the WiFi. Why? Because it’s right next to my switch so I just need a tiny CAT-5 or CAT-6 cable and it works. Plus it’s fast. And I have a WiFi router to which everyone’s phone & laptop is connected and since that WiFi router is also connected to my switch, there would be no need to add yet another WiFi signal in the house.

Ancient Models

Still in use in many places, although not as old as historic electronic facsimile, Ancient Models look like a printer with a phone handset and the usually 12 buttons (0 to 9, * and #). You could actually use that handset to make calls so you did not need a separate phone system.

Most of the ancient models I’ve seen did have a rather poor printing system. One I had used thermo-printing and the size of each point was so large that often it was really difficult to read small text.

Modern fax machines can have really good printing capabilities and also a buffer to save incoming faxes in memory in case the printer is out of paper. Just insert paper when you’re back and the printing will get going.

Personally, I do not recommend those because you will end up having to also purchase a printer and scanner separately. Why not have all of these in one device in the first place?

Here is another brothers fax device which has a phone handle and can be used as a printer and a scanner from your computer:

Brothers Fax Printer Scanner MFC7240
This Brother Fax/Printer/Scanner MFC7240 takes more space than the smaller fax machine but it’s going to be much more useful and if you also wanted to make phone calls from that machine, it’s available too.

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