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When I first started my working life, fax machines were commonplace and were a valued means of communication. These days, when speaking on the phone, if someone asks me to fax something over I have to stop myself from saying "FAX IT? What century are you living in?!". Anyway, some people still use faxes, and although our usage is rare we still have to have a fax machine in our office. We bought this one about a year ago to replace our previous one which was slowly dying, causing much stress around payroll time as our bank still relies on receiving our payroll by fax.
==Price and Availability==
We bought our fax machine from Viking Direct as we have an account with them. At the time it cost around £60.
Now, personally I'm not really bothered about what features a fax machine has, as long as it does the following:
1 Sends faxes
2 Receives faxes
3 Prints reports to confirm that faxes have been sent
And that's it. The total sum of what I expect from a fax machine. In reality, of course, things aren't always this simple, and the manufacturers of technology seem to feel the need to promise much more. In this case, the manual is very helpful in explaining things like printing reports retrospectively, but the functions of the fax machine are so simple that everyone can use it without being told what to do.
The fax offers a few extra features, which to be honest we don't use because we have other devices to fulfil these needs, but it has an integrated telephone handset, and also acts as a basic photocopier (although given the speed of the paper going through the machine, it would take forever to actually copy anything!). This would make it a good option for a very small business which didn't have the need for separate devices for different functions.
The fax offers automatic redial, meaning that if the fax number you are sending to is busy, it will automatically attempt to re-send the fax. It also has a delayed timer so you can set a fax to be sent later the same day. I'm not sure why this would be useful to be honest, I tend to use my Outlook calendar to remind me to do things. You can programme up to 100 speed dials, but we haven't bothered programming any because it's not much hassle to just type the number in.
The fax machine is lovely and small in size, so it won't take up much room on a desk or table. I would say it is about the same length as a long ruler, and about half the size depth-wise. It is blue in colour and has clearly labelled buttons guiding you depending on what you're trying to achieve.
Although my usage of this fax machine isn't overly frequent, I do use it a few times each month, and have done so for the last year. I have found that the fax machine does everything I want it to. It sends faxes, it receives faxes, and I can print confirmation reports to confirm that faxes have been sent successfully. This is particularly important when I'm faxing our payroll figures to the bank, as I'm always paranoid that if they don't receive the fax I at least have confirmation it has been sent. This would help in the event of any disputes (and means I can blame the bank so my colleagues don't all hate me for not being paid on time!).
Using the fax is very straightforward. You literally place the document you are sending face-down in the slot, enter the fax number you are sending it to, and press send. The buttons on the machine are well labelled so anyone can figure out how to use the machine, even if they have never used it before. This is one of the advantages of fax machines over scanners and more complicated means of communication, in that they are all fairly standard and universal, making it easy for anyone to figure out how to use them.
I have never had problems with the paper jamming in this fax machine whilst trying to send faxes, although I do tend to stand over it and wait until the document has been sent before walking off. Sending a fax isn't the quickest thing in the world, the paper goes through really slowly. Once it's been sent, it beeps to let you know, and then you can print a confirmation report to get this documented. To do this, you simply scroll through the report options with the up and down arrows, and press the number which corresponds to the report you wish to print (in this case you press number 1 which is called something like "XMIT Verify" - it's obvious what the reports are when you scroll through them).
The print quality of this fax machine is ok, although we have a bit of a problem with spam emails taking up all our ink! The quality isn't perfect so you can expect the odd line appearing here and there, but I think this is more due to the method of communication rather than this particular fax machine.
We have also used this machine to get reports for faxes which have been sent in the past. This has happened when someone has forgotten to print a confirmation report, and we've had to go further into the report options to get a retrospective confirmation report. It's comforting to know this can be done, and the instructions in the manual are very easy to follow.
The main issue we've had with this fax machine is that it has already started to squeak and sounds like it needs oiling or something. This isn't great as we've only had it a year, and even with everyone in the office using it, it doesn't actually get used THAT often, as most people use scanners these days to email documents. It sounds like it's not going to be very hardwearing, and I expect we'll be replacing this one before too long.
It also doesn't hold a great deal of paper in the tray used for receiving faxes, so if you get bombarded by junk mail as we sometimes do, you'll be constantly up and down to replace the paper that's been wasted by someone trying to get you to buy something from them. We only keep around 10 sheets in the tray at any one time, because any more than this and it tends to cause a paper jam.
Overall, this fax machine fulfils our basic needs, but doesn't seem to be built to last. I would only recommend it for occasional usage.
(This review also appears on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)