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Monday, July 26, 2010

Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Fax Machine

Fax Machine Introduction
With more than 110 laser fax models from 19 different companies on the market today, determining, with confidence, which one is right for your office isn't easy. The latest upgrades and added features may benefit you but often come with a high price tag.
What's the best modem speed for your business? Should you get a machine that prints and scans as well as faxes? What can you expect to pay? The questions are endless. However, the Better Buys for Business team has created this special report to help you cut through the clutter and tell you what you need to know to make an informed buying decision.

Getting Started
Let's begin by clarifying what is meant by laser fax machine. These are fax machines that can print on regular paper using laser-imaging technology (that also includes LED technology, which we consider laser-class). These machines can cost between $250 and $4,000. The sub-$1,000 machines are mainly sold through retail stores such as office supplies superstores, while the larger ones are usually sold through traditional office equipment dealers.
Major advances in fax standards do not occur with great frequency, partly because everything is governed by global industry standards that ensure all machines can communicate with each other. Therefore, progress requires considerable international diplomacy. Fax speeds do not change at a rapid pace. From 1980 to 1991, the fax speed standard was 9,600bps then 14,400bps became the fax speed standard. Not until 1997 were high-speed 33,600bps machines available and they are still the standard today. Though some manufacturers are still introducing machines with 14.4 modems, most new models these days come with a 33.6 modem - the fastest modem available for fax machines.
The very latest developments in fax technology involve something called Internet fax. This means different things to different people, but the fundamental idea is to allow faxes to travel over the Internet for the long-distance portion of their journey. This can either be real-time transmissions of documents from machine to machine over the Internet (which is the ITU T.38 protocol), or a type called "scan-to-e-mail" (the ITU T.37 protocol), similar to sending e-mails between fax machines or faxing to e-mail addresses (something most fax machines already do). Take note of the protocol. It will help you get the type of Internet Fax capability you're after.

Low-end models
Until recently, fax machines have been fairly expensive. One reason for such high prices is that historically, traditional office equipment dealers have controlled the lion's share of distribution. There was relatively little laser-class equipment available at the retail level (i.e., office supply superstores, mail-order catalogs, and the like).
These days, however, you can find some pretty inexpensive, but surprisingly upscale, laser multifunctional devices with fax functions being offered in the retail channel, where higher sales volumes mean lower margins.
Spending about $400 - $700 in the retail channel will get you a machine that in many ways matches and in some ways exceeds a dealer-channel fax machine selling for $1,200 - $2,500. Aside from relatively small paper trays, low-end retail-channel machines will give you all you need to handle a modest amount of fax traffic. And as we'll see in a moment, they also offer some of the strongest multifunctional capabilities in the fax market.
What you can expect to get for less than $1,000.
· A single paper tray with a 250 sheet capacity.
· A choice between a 14.4 modem and a 33.6 modem.
· A single fax line.
· JBIG data compression, though only a handful of models. (Data compression cuts transmission times, reducing phone costs.)
If you are looking for a more rugged machine than what a low-end model can deliver, a higher-end machine may be right for you.

High-end models
The dealer channel plays a valuable role as a source for more upscale machines that offer heavy-duty users capabilities the retail-channel models don't. Machines with 14.4 modems, single paper trays, and fewer than 100 pages of fax memory are slowly disappearing from the market, leaving more current, feature-rich models in their place. For a state-of-the-art, high-end fax, you'll need to look at dealer-channel machines and should expect list prices in the $2,200 - $3,000 range. But unlike the retail channel, where you are likely to pay list price, the dealer channel routinely discounts list by 25% - 35%.
Regardless of what you pay, most high-end models promise excellent performance:
· 33.6 modems to ensure the fastest transmission times. (56K speeds are commonplace in computers but aren't yet part of the fax landscape and won't be in the foreseeable future.)
· JBIG data compression that could reduce your phone costs by 30% or more.
· Larger paper supplies - two trays, at least one of which has a 500-sheet capacity.
· Anywhere from 400 to 1,000 pages of fax memory (with optional upgrades).
· Optional second phone lines.
· Network and Internet fax capabilities.

Multifunctional Models
Nearly all fax machines have multifunctional options, allowing them to perform additional duties as printers, scanners, and PC fax modems. For instance, many models can be connected to your PC for use as a printer and/or a scanner. Depending on the machine these functions may be standard (common in low-end models) or optional. Options vary in sophistication and price, as well as the range of functionality offered. In general, they can add several hundred dollars to the price of a fax machine, though some can be found on the street for under $100. Incidentally, almost all such upgrades work only with Windows PCs; Mac OS users are largely overlooked in the fax market. In addition, many of them are designed for direct connection only, though this is changing. Approximately half of the models currently on the market support a network connection.
Compromised performance?
While the concept of multifunctionality is attractive, the reality at present can be somewhat disappointing, so you may want to think twice before taking this route. Remember, regardless of the additional functions offered, the machine remains a fax machine, first and foremost.

Better at the bottom?
Right now, the most attractive multifunctional machines that are not platen-based are those sold in the sub-$1,000 segment and can usually be found for between $400-$700 at retail. With these models, it doesn't matter if the printer function is relatively entry-level, because machines at this price point are, by definition, catering to low-volume requirements.
In some respects, the typical entry-level multifunctional machine offers better PC printing than a lot of $2,000 dealer-channel models. For example, the engine resolution is often higher, even if the speed isn't. But with the printer performance the same, it still adds up to a more well-rounded product. And you won't have the awkward imbalance of adding a low-end printer function to a high-end, high-priced fax platform.

Original source: Better Buys - Free Special Reports

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Since 1999 we have been a major supplier of original brand (OEM), compatible replacement and remanufactured Premium Quality inkjet cartridges, laser toner cartridges and other printer supplies. Our customers range in size and include the United States Government, small and large businesses, schools and individuals. Each of our customers is equally important to us and is treated with the same friendly professionalism. Visit us at Price Less Inkjet Cartridge Co.