Fax machines are not as popular a tool for sending documents as they once were. That said, despite giving way to paperless communication such as email, fax remains in relatively widespread use. In fact, billions of documents are still sent by fax each year.
You may not find many fax machines in a home office setting anymore. But with more people working remotely, a home office fax machine may be necessary if the industry or clients they work with regularly require sending and receiving faxes.
As a general rule, the fax machines used in a home office will be more compact than those in a corporate environment. If you are out shopping for a home office fax machine, there are a number of factors you should take into consideration.
The ubiquity of the smartphone combined with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has driven more electronics manufacturers to create apps for their equipment. Not to be left behind by this market trend, many fax machine makers have apps that now allow the device to be operated remotely.
With an app, you can receive faxes remotely. The app may also allow you to check toner or ink status as well as faxing history. Note that the apps on a fax machine are much different from email to fax service providers.
2. Print Technology Type
A fax machine is used to send and receive documents. In the process, the documents are printed at the recipient’s end. This print functionality will usually be based on either inkjet or laser printing technology.
Inkjet printing has a more resilient output, easily replaceable cartridges and is inexpensive. Inkjet technology uses liquid ink to deliver better quality color documents and photo images. Their main drawback is that they print slower than laser printers and produce fewer pages during their lifetime. An inkjet printer fax is ideal if you want long-lasting, good-looking color photos and documents. They also work well if you only receive faxes occasionally.
Laser printer faxes are more expensive than inkjet and produce good quality images as well. A laser printer relies on a toner which is a powdered, dry material. Toner lasts longer when compared to ink, meaning cartridges do not need to be replaced as often. Toner replacement cartridges are more pricey, however, with the drums needing replacing after every four toners. Laser printing faxes are ideal for those who receive many faxes.
3. Color Vs. Monochrome
When presented with the choice of a color fax and a monochrome fax, one would naturally be drawn to the color fax. But this may not be the most practical choice. When purchasing home office equipment, you do not want to splurge on capacity and functionality you do not need.
Monochrome printing fax machines are popular due to their low operating cost as well as high quality text and high print speeds. If you expect to receive a lot of faxes, a monochrome printing fax would be your best bet. However, if you are planning on printing your own advertisements, flyers, photos, brochures or other documents that are rich in color, then a color fax machine may be just what you need.
4. Wired Vs. Wireless
A fax machine may either be connected to a telephone line, a network cable or it can be completely wireless. In order to send a fax via a wired fax machine, you need to have a phone line or be connected to the network with an Ethernet cable. With a wired connection, document transmission is quick.
A wireless fax machine setup is achieved using either a Wi-Fi connection or Bluetooth. The connection links to the smartphone or computer directly or through a network router. Wi-Fi connections rely on radio frequencies to link the devices.
Wireless fax eliminates the need for wires thus keeping the space around the fax machine neat. However, signals are at higher risk of dropping or being interfered with. Also, transmission is relatively slower than when using a wired connection.
5. Paper Capacity
In most home offices, a fax machine with a high capacity is unlikely to be a priority. If you have a tray that can hold up to 150 sheets, that is probably more than adequate. Still, not all home offices are created equal. If you expect to receive a lot of documents via fax, then you can go for a higher capacity fax machine. There are fax machines with a capacity of 250 sheets or higher.
6. Modem Speed
A fax modem makes it possible for the fax machine to relay and receive documents over a phone line. The speed of a fax modem is usually 14.4 kilobits per second, or higher. It is the maximum rate of transfer. A faster modem speed would mean a received document is evacuated from the phone line more quickly. This would be especially helpful if the fax line doubles as the same line where you receive your calls, which is often the case in a home office setting.
Note that the modem speed is not the only thing that determines how quickly fax can be sent or received. The number of pages, the level of detail on the page and the quality of the connection all play a role. A document that contains only text may require half a minute to go through, while one with a full-page photograph may take an entire minute.
7. Auto-Dial and Storage
A fax machine has plenty of similarities to a phone. One of these is the ability to save and program the fax numbers you use the most for ease of recall. The numbers you can save depends on the capacity of the fax machine’s memory. Some fax machines can take well over 250 preprogrammed contacts.
The fax’s storage also determines the number of fax jobs that can be stored and processed at a time. A large memory allows larger document queues while improving the input/output quality of the faxed document itself.
A home office should not be devoid of the security controls that are typical in a standard office environment. You may not want everyone who walks into your home to have the ability to use the fax machine. Therefore, you could get a fax machine that allows password protection so it is only usable to authorized persons.
Get What Works for You
Working from home comes with many conveniences but also brings a lot of unique challenges. Evaluate fax machines against these factors so you can pick the one that is most suitable for your home office needs.