The best fax machine
Since gaining prominence in the mid 1980s, fax machines have been a mainstay of business transactions all over the globe. In the ever-changing world of electronic communications, that's serious longevity. What's more, fax machines don't show signs of going away anytime soon.
If you're looking for a fax machine for yourself, keep reading. We put together this buying guide to help you find the right fax machine for your needs. Included are reviews of some of our fax machines available today. We think you'd love our Best of the Best pick, the Brother High-Speed Mono Laser, which offers 400 pages of memory and superior laser functionality.
Considerations when choosing fax machines
Fax machine vs. internet faxing
While shopping for a fax machine, you might be tempted to consider skipping the hardware altogether and going for an internet faxing service. There a few reasons why a traditional fax machine is preferable. For starters, a fax machine transmits from you directly to the other person you're trying to reach. When you use an internet faxing service, at least one third party must also be involved in the process, which increases the possibility for errors in transmission. Furthermore, internet faxing services charge a fee for every page you transmit. If you send faxes regularly, that begins to add up.
Frequency of use
If you plan to purchase a fax machine, you probably send and/or receive faxes with some regularity. Take into account how often you plan to use your fax machine when selecting one. Consider, too, how many sheets you plan to send and receive at a time. This may have some bearing on the paper capacity of your ideal model.
Ease of use
The last thing you want when trying to send a fax is to be bogged down with figuring out how the machine works. Memory redial is one of the features that makes fax machines easy to use. Also, fax machines that have larger screens tend to be easier to navigate than those that only have a small single-line screen. Another benefit of getting a fax machine that is simple to use is that others who may need to use your fax machine at some point will have an easier time completing their task without asking for too much help.
Basic fax machine vs. multi-function
Think about whether you will need an all-in-one machine or just a basic fax machine. Multi-function machines are useful for scanning, printing, and a host of other functions. However, if you have no need for these functions, then getting an all-in-one machine would be a waste of money.
Not all fax machines come equipped with caller ID. If you want to have the ability to see who is sending you a fax while it comes through, look for a fax machine that includes a caller ID feature.
Speed dial and memory
This feature is highly useful for people who send many faxes to the same numbers regularly. Because faxing can be a slow process, fax machines with speed dial and memory can store the numbers in their memory, reducing the time it takes to prepare a fax for transmission.
As mentioned, some fax machines have all-in-one capabilities which include scanning, printing, and even email. If need to set up an entire home office at once, this might be a useful choice. However, if you already have the other components that come with an all-in-one machine, it may not be worth the extra cost.
A newer development in fax machines is the ability to connect to WiFi. One big advantage to WiFi capability is that you can transmit a document directly from a mobile device using the fax machine. It's the perfect union of old and new technology.
Depending on the functions and features of a fax machine, they can cost anywhere between $30 and $700. In the $30 to $150 range are basic models, while those between $150 and $700 will often be part of a larger all-in-one printer/copier that offers many more functions.
Fax machines we recommend
Best of the best: Brother High-Speed Mono Laser
Our take: A great traditional fax machine that will do the job every time.
What we like: The robust 200 auto-dial memory and 400-page memory are impressive for any fax machine.
What we dislike: "Deep sleep" function can be problematic.
Best bang for your buck: Canon imageCLASS MF236n
Our take: A great machine for the budget-conscious shopper.
What we like: Excellent functionality at a low price. It's a printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine.
What we dislike: Setting it up isn't as easy as some owners would like.
Choice 3: Canon ImageClass MF236n All-In-One
Our take: A good option if you don't have color.
What we like: An excellent scanner of good quality.
What we dislike: No WiFi, and monochrome printing only.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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