A fax machine also known as a facsimile, telecopying, or telefax, is a device that scans text and images and transmits over the telephone line to another similar device. Fax machines work by scanning a document and converting it into a digital format, which is then transmitted to the receiving fax machine.
The receiving fax machine decodes the digital data and prints out a copy of the original document. Most modern fax machines have the ability to send and receive faxes over the internet, in addition to the traditional method.
Facsimiles are used to send business communication documents across the world by users who them. It has features such as a scanner, printing, telephone line, and LCD display among others that make it function. It has the advantage that it is simple and easy to send and receive a document instead of physically presenting the same, hence reducing cost.
How to send and receive a fax
To send a fax you will require to have a fax number which is assigned to the telephone line that is used to send the fax image. Ensure you have the telephone or fax number for the recipient.
Position the document to be sent on the fax machine to be scanned. The scanner work like a modern document scanner where it passes scanning mechanisms over the paper to scan. Fax scan the document in black and white and then convert it into a digital image.
After scanning is done the document will be transmitted over the telephone line to a remote fax machine. This is done by the sending machine dialing the fax machine of the recipient to establish a connection. When the connection has been created the receiver machine gives a sound to indicate there is an incoming fax. The receiving user should not pick up the phone since it is just confirming and alerting the new fax.
If the machine is loaded with paper it will then decode the image from the telephone line and print a hard copy of the document. The recipient should confirm they have received all pages of the document.
After receiving the fax the user should communicate to the sender that they have the document. It is always a good practice to communicate after receipt of the facsimile. You can read more on the mechanism and internal operation of facsimile here.
Types of fax machines
Standalone Fax Machines: These are standalone devices that are dedicated solely to sending and receiving faxes. Standalone fax machines typically have a built-in telephone handset for making and receiving calls, as well as a document feeder for scanning and sending documents. These are old fashion types of fax machines that are not common today.
Multifunction Fax Machines: these are the most common and modern telefax. These are devices that combine the functions of a fax machine with those of a printer, scanner, and copier. Multifunction fax machines are often used in offices as they allow users to perform a variety of tasks with a single device. The businesses that are currently using fax are using these types.
Online Fax Services: With the growth of the internet, fax capabilities can be offered as a service. These are services that allow users to send and receive faxes over the internet. Online fax services typically require users to sign up for an account and can be accessed through a web browser or via an app on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The fax can be sent to the email or a fax software installed on the client’s smartphone or computer. There are both free and pay fax services available.
Features of fax machine
A modern fax machine has a different feature that helps it achieve its intended use. Below are some of the common features.
- Optical scanner: this is used to scan the document and convert it into an image for sending. The scanner works like a standalone document scanner but doesn’t produce a clear copy like it.
- Document Feeder: Allows users to scan multiple pages at once, instead of having to feed them into the machine one at a time.
- Printer: This is used to print fax when they are received. Ensure it is loaded with paper to avoid errors.
- Telephone: fax requires a telephone connection to communicate with each other. It can be set to have automatic redial if a fax transmission is not successful to attempt to send the fax again.
- Memory: some modern fax machines have a memory that can be used to store fax documents and phone books for frequently used numbers among others.
- Forwarding and routing: the feature allows users to forward incoming faxes to another fax machine or email address. While the routing helps to set a list of numbers the fax can be sent to automatically.
- Sent confirmation Page: A confirmation page can be printed out after a fax is successfully sent, showing the recipient’s fax number and the date and time the fax was sent. This can be used as evidence of sending the document.
- LCD Display: An LCD display allows users to view and navigate through the machine’s various settings and features.
Uses of fax machine
Before the coming of the internet, fax machines were common devices within offices. Today they are not that common but still, we have businesses that use them. A user may need to use a fax service for the following function.
- Sending and receiving documents: One of the most common uses of fax machines is to send and receive business documents, such as contracts, invoices, and reports.
- Signed confidential documents: Fax machines can be used to send confidential documents because the transmission is secure and the documents are difficult to alter. Again if a document requires to have a physical signature you can send it using a facsimile.
- Large documents: Fax machines can be used to send large documents that may be too large to send via email. An email has a limited document size that can be sent while a fax doesn’t.
- It can send documents to multiple recipients: Fax machines can be used to send the same document to multiple recipients simultaneously at no extra cost.
- Printing, scanning, and photocopying: Some fax machines have the capability to print out received documents. They can also scan documents before sending them and can generate photocopies. This is mostly for a modern fax machine which is a multifunctional device.
- Built-in phone: Some fax machines have a built-in telephone that allows users to make and receive phone calls in addition to sending and receiving faxes.
Advantages of fax machines
- Using facsimile is an inexpensive method of sending and receiving business documents.
- Fax machines are reliable and have been around for a long time, so they are a well-established technology that is widely understood and used.
- Sending and receiving faxes is simple and easy, making them a convenient way to transmit important and large documents.
- Fax machines don’t require an internet connection to use, making them useful in situations where internet access is not available.
- Unlike computers, fax machines don’t have viruses and it is hard to hack and change the document.
- Faxes can be sent and received without the need for a computer, making them useful in situations where computers are not available. They only need a working fax machine.
Disadvantages of facsimile
- Fax machines are becoming less common as more people use email and other digital communication methods. Most comes as multifunctional devices so they can be used as printers and copiers.
- Fax machines can be expensive to purchase and maintain. Just like printers they require toners, ink, and printing paper to function. If it is missing any of these it cannot receive the message. The user requires to keep on checking to make sure it is not out of paper otherwise it gives an error since it cannot print.
- The quality of the document sent by facsimile is not clear. This makes it difficult to read which can lead to misunderstandings of the message.
- Anybody who is beside the fax machine can read the document even if it was not met for them.
- For the machine to work it should have a telephone number assigned to it and a telephone line connection. In case the connection is not available then it means no communication.
- To send and receive the message both machines should be operational and on otherwise the fax will not be delivered. This happens even if the line is busy.