Fax technology dates back to the mid-19th century, so it’s obviously a tried-and-tested medium. Appreciated for their reliability and practicality, fax machines have been modernised and are still the choice of many home users or business owners, while larger companies turn to multi-function units integrating fax technology as well as scanning, copying and printing capabilities. While the internet has in recent years become the main medium for document communication, fax machine prices remain attractive, making them relevant features in every office.
Traditional models for home use and SMEs
The basic functioning principle of a fax machine is fairly straightforward: the sender feeds text or pictures into the unit, usually one sheet at a time. The documents are digitized and converted into electronic data. The sender dials the receiver’s fax number, and the data is transmitted via the phone line. The receiving unit then processes this information into text, or image, and prints it. It typically takes 10 to 20 seconds to send a single page.
Basic fax machine prices
Most entry-level models use thermal paper, which is handy as no ink or toner is needed. However, thermal paper tends to turn yellow quickly, or even fade over time. This means faxed documents won’t be able to be filed, at least not for long, or will need to be copied first. Therefore, entry-level fax machines are better suited to home users or small business owners who process small volumes of documents at a time. Of course, paper capacity, printing speed and memory are low, as well as prices. A Brother FAXT104U1 only costs £70, and comes equipped with a built-in telephone handset, a 9,600bps modem and a 25-page document memory to store received data.
Interesting optional features
Integrated answering machines are an appreciated feature for home users or sole traders who are frequently absent from their office, such as plumbers or delivery professionals. For example, the Brother FAXT106 PPTF comes with a 60-minute recording time, a telephone handset and a 9 page-per-minute printing speed, all for £80. Other units can also copy the received faxes on plain paper, or be used as an autonomous copier, such as the Philips PPF755 which only costs £85.
Multi-function fax machine prices
Nowadays, fax machines are often integrated into multi-function printers (MFPs) that can scan, copy and print documents, all-in-one. These units offer superior service compared with entry-level models, and are also more expensive. In any case, their versatility and advanced technology makes them perfectly useable in large companies or busy offices, where they’ll never be caught off guard. In the UK, three famous manufacturers share most of the market.
Brother makes great entry-level to mid-range machines, with multi-function fax machine prices generally between £200 and £300. Most mid-range models provide the same services as more expensive models, at a bargain price, like the Brother FAX8360P, priced at £285. It uses laser technology and plain paper for better document durability, has a 500-page memory, a 250-sheet paper tray and a built-in copier and telephone. It can print or copy 14 pages per minute.
Sharp produces various entry-level fax machines for small businesses, but they use either ink-jet or laser technology, and plain paper, which makes them an interesting choice for low volumes of documents. They also offer many optional features such as telephone-fax combinations, answering machines or copy facilities. Fax machine prices start at £60 for a UB20 fax machine.
Canon produces high-end MFPs for large companies needing to process considerable volumes of faxes daily. Of course, these machines tend to be pricey, but they offer cutting-edge technology and can be used durably by hundreds of staff every day. For example, the i-SENSYS FAX L-410 can scan, print and copy, has a 512-page memory, print 25 pages per minute and only costs £530.