All In One Fax Machine

Q: What can an all-in-one fax machine do?

A: An all-in-one fax machine incorporates the functions of a fax machine, photocopier, scanner, and printer. It is usually called a multi-function printer, but if you are looking for something to replace a single-purpose fax machine then you may just as well call it an all-in-one fax machine.

These devices are not much bigger than any comparable single-purpose device. When you think about it, a fax machine has to scan and print. If it scans and prints locally, it’s a photocopier. All that makes it a fax machine is the ability to print over a phone line and receive document images over a phone line to be printed locally. So the hardware necessary for all four functions is already built into most fax machines. To make it a multi-function printer, you just rearrange things and tweak the performance of functions a bit.

A single-purpose fax machine’s scanner, for example, is not usually of the highest quality or versatility. That’s because fax images only have to be black-and-white, low-resolution scans. Beef up the scanner to handle 1200 dpi full-color jobs and you have that part of a multi-function printer. Likewise, you can add features and performance to the photocopying and printing functions to improve them over a single-purpose fax machine.

A multi-function device saves money. First, you need ink and paper in just one machine, not several. One device takes up less floor space than several. It uses less electricity even in standby mode than several machines. The device is more productive; it is used for more functions, so it is in use a higher percentage of the time.
On the other hand, all your eggs are in one basket. If the device breaks down faxing, printing, photocopying, and scanning all halt. If you had separate machines, a fax machine could serve as an emergency photocopier, printer, or scanner.

All-in-one fax machines come in wide range of prices and feature sets, just like their separate components. Generally, the functions are of roughly equal productivity so there will inevitably be some waste. You may need only a low-volume printer, but if you need a high-volume fax machine it’s going to be a high-volume printer, too.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.