Fast quality. 250-sheet capacity. 400-page memory and 200 auto-dial numbers.
"Deep Sleep" energy-saving mode can cause issues, though owners have found solutions.
Compact and fast, even when handling multi-page jobs.
Fax resolution is a bit low.
Fast. Compatible with numerous systems. Convenient wireless connectivity.
Complicated setup instructions leave many first-time users confused.
Super-speedy modem and high-volume capabilities.
Doesn't automatically transmit faxes.
Scan quality is superb. Canon has focused on making it simple to print photos or documents directly from your smartphone, and that focus has paid off.
It only prints in black and white, and despite some incorrect product listings, it doesn’t support WiFi.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
While pagers, eight-track players, and CRT monitors have all long since been replaced by newer, smaller, and more powerful technologies, one tech relic has survived the years: the fax machine. Even in the age of the smartphone, people still transmit copies of pages across phone lines and count on their fax machines for critical business. Faxing is simple, reliable, and a widely accepted standard.
If you need to send faxes on a regular basis, buying a fax machine is the most cost-efficient way to send pages, so long as you find the right model. Because fax capabilities are often bundled with similar technologies like scanning and printing, it can be easy to spend a lot of money on features you don’t need.
Read our shopping guide to fax machines and get to know the must-have features and the gimmicks to avoid so you can find the model that suits you best.
All fax machines perform the same basic function: sending one or more printed pages to other fax machines. But modern fax machines can do a lot more, making them much more useful in your home or office. Here are the features we consider essential.
“All-in-one” functionality: While you can buy a machine that’s only a fax machine, it’s a better idea to buy an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machine. You’ll save money and space by consolidating these functions.
WiFi: Many fax machines have built-in WiFi, so you can send documents directly from your smartphone, tablet, or computer to be faxed to a specific number. Much like wireless printing, wireless faxing is an incredible convenience that will leave you wondering how you ever lived without it.
Speed dial and memory: Faxing documents takes a while – even the fastest fax machines go one page at a time. Many models cut down on the time required to fax by having local storage for frequently used phone numbers, and offering speed dial for them. If you primarily send faxes to the same numbers, save yourself the hassle of redialing and pick up a fax machine with memory and speed dial.
Caller ID: Surprisingly, caller ID isn’t available on every fax machine, although it probably should be. Caller ID makes it easy to see who’s sending you a fax. If you’ll be using your fax machine to receive a lot of faxes, make sure the model you buy supports caller ID.
Your home office’s headquarters
Brother’s FAX-2840 packs enough functionality to support a business in a form factor that’s among the most compact we’ve ever seen. It’s a laser printer, it scans at decently high resolutions, and has fax features rarely seen at this price point – like enough memory to fax up to 400 pages at a time.
As you’re shopping online for a fax machine, you’re bound to encounter internet faxing services, which can send documents from the web directly to a fax machine. While that may sound great, there are pros and cons to both traditional fax machines and web-based fax services. Here’s what you need to know.
Fax machines use traditional phone lines to establish a one-to-one connection with other fax machines. They’re loud, bulky, and boxy, as well as secure, reliable, and the best solution for anyone who sends faxes on a regular basis. If you buy a fax machine, you’ll be responsible for supplying paper, ink, and a phone line, but your cost per page will be lower over the long term than it would be with a web faxing service.
When you send a fax, you establish a direct connection with the receiving fax machine. When you send an email, multiple intermediary systems play a part in transmitting the message. Because any of those systems can alter a message, email is generally considered less secure than faxing.
As you’re looking at specific models of fax machines, do some research to determine how much the replacement ink costs. Some inexpensive fax machines require incredibly expensive ink, making them more costly to run over the long term than similar models that cost more initially.
If you attempt to send a fax and receive a message of “Busy, no response,” that means either the destination fax machine is currently in use or your fax has been declined. In most cases, it’s the former, so if you get this message, wait a few minutes and try sending the fax again.
Fax machines can get expensive, mainly because most do several things other than send faxes. You can expect to pay between $30 and $700 for a fax machine. Here’s what you’ll get for your money, depending on how much you want to spend.
Inexpensive: You’ll find fax machines that are only fax machines (and don’t include scanning or printing) or low-quality all-in-ones for between $30 and $99. If you just need a fax machine on a limited basis, or you’re looking to add fax functionality to your existing printer and scanner setup, you don’t need to spend a lot. If you’re looking for a solid printer/scanner/fax machine, you’ll need to shell out a little extra.
Mid-range: You can expect to encounter all-in-ones (fax machines that also print and scan) of varying quality for between $100 and $399. As you spend more, you’ll get additional features like WiFi support, as well as qualitative upgrades – expensive all-in-ones can scan at high resolutions, speed up faxes with auto-dialing, and even offer laser printing. If you need a fax machine that will last several years and consistently produce high-quality output, plan on looking at the higher end of the range.
Expensive: Fax machines that are part of large all-in-one devices – network laser printers that are built to be used by an entire office – cost between $400 and $700. Models in this price range are heavy but also include every possible feature you’d need, ranging from color copying to email-to-fax services. If you need a fax machine for a small- to medium-size business, or you simply need an all-in-one that does everything in perfect quality, it will be expensive.
A traveling worker’s secret weapon
The Brother FAX-575 is small but mighty. It’s designed to be portable, so you can take it with you on business trips, but it makes no sacrifices when it comes to functionality or quality. If you need a workhorse fax machine that you can take wherever you go, this is the one to get.
If you need to fax a double-sided document, you might need to send each side as a separate fax. Most fax machines don’t support double-sided faxing, so if you have a document that has print on both sides, you’ll likely need to fax one side and then the other in order for both sides to reach the recipient.
If you don’t already have a place to put a fax machine, you might need to buy a printer stand. Most fax machines are pretty bulky and take up a decent amount of room, so as you’re shopping, note the measurements of various models and make sure you have enough room in your computer space.
Q. How long does it take to send a fax?
A. Several factors impact how long it takes to send a fax. It depends on how fast of a connection the two machines have, as well as the length of the fax itself. In general, it takes about 30 seconds to one minute to fax a single page.
Q. Can I send a fax with a fax machine if I don’t have a landline?
A. No. Fax machines depend on traditional telephone landlines to transmit pages and have historically had problems when used with VoIP lines. While you might find accounts of individual users getting fax machines to work with VoIP lines, widespread compatibility isn’t there yet.
Q. Can I send a fax directly from my computer to a fax machine?
A. Yes, depending on the model. Some high-end fax machines (typically all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machines) feature WiFi, which lets you send documents directly from a computer or mobile device to the fax machine for faxing. If this is a must-have feature for you, make sure the model you buy supports WiFi.
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