The process of choosing a suitable fax machine can be fairly complicated. The features and capabilities of different models vary considerably. Before you shop for a new fax machine on the Internet or in stores, it's best to determine what features your business or home office truly needs.
Most models have a speed dial function. However, they don't all store the same quantity of fax numbers. Some machines only hold a few numbers; others store hundreds of them. A large speed dial capacity will only become important if you send faxes to many different people.
Some machines have junk fax blocking features. They try to detect unwanted faxes and cancel them. This prevents the machine from wasting ink, electricity and paper. It also stops advertisements from delaying legitimate faxes. Some junk fax blockers work better than others; read product reviews for more information.
Modern fax machines typically have a memory that stores fax data. This enables you to print multiple copies or delay printing if the machine runs out of ink. You can also scan documents and send them later. Depending upon the model, the amount of memory usually ranges from 25 to 500 pages. More memory is desirable if you receive large faxes.
Models with color printing capabilities can send and receive high-quality color faxes. This proves useful for printing artwork, photographs and brochures. However, it's more expensive to buy and operate a color fax machine than a black-and-white model. If you primarily plan to send text-based documents, consider using postal mail or email to distribute color images.
Some of the more expensive fax machines offer laser printing. They provide high-resolution output and greater reliability. Compared to inkjet units, these machines also print faster and perform better in very dry conditions. Nonetheless, an inkjet fax machine may be preferable for a home office or small business that receives faxes occasionally.
Many recent fax machines perform several functions. Some models feature built-in scanners, copiers and printers. Many also offer corded telephones. Keep in mind that these capabilities are only beneficial if you have a genuine need for them and don't already own equipment that serves the same purpose.
A number of minor features also vary from one model to the next. Some machines hold more paper than others or have trays for two different sheet sizes. Others provide caller ID capabilities or permanent memory that can store faxes during power outages. All of these features add versatility and convenience, but they also increase the cost.