A Look At New Faxes And Fax-Based MFPS18 Jan, 2001 By: Buyers Laboratory, Inc. imageSource
A Look At New Faxes And Fax-Based MFPS
To update readers on facsimile technology, The Business Consumer's Advisor looked at the specifications of 52 fax models that are included in the recently introduced model section of BLI's just-published Fall 2000 Multifunctional Specification Guide, Facsimile-Based Products. There are 13 fewer models in this guide than were in the Spring 2000 guide. Brother is introducing the most models (eight), followed by Sharp (six), Oki Data (five) and Panasonic (five). The introduction dates of the 52 models generally range from March 2000 to December 2000. (Please note that specifications were obtained from manufacturers and were not confirmed by BLI testing.) Here's what we found.
· Price: The suggested retail prices of the 46 units for which pricing is available (six units, which have estimated street prices, are not included), range from about $130 for the Panasonic KX-FP80, a low-volume, thermal transfer fax machine with a 9.6-Kbps modem, to $4,995 for the Pitney Bowes Model 4130, a high-volume, LED array unit with a 33.6-Kbps modem. Low-volume newcomers are priced from about $130 to about $1,900, while the new mid-volume units are priced from about $500 to about $3,500, and the high-volume units are priced from about $2,800 to about $5,000. With prices generally declining, it's noteworthy that, compared with the previous period (see the April 2000 issue of The Business Consumer's Advisor), prices for units increased at the low end and the high end for all three volume classes. Specifically, prices increased about $40 at the low-end and about $200 at the high end for low-volume units; about $50 at the low end and about $500 at the high end for mid-volume faxes; and about $2,100 at the low end and about $1,000 at the high end for high-volume models.
· Technology: Laser-based units lead the new offerings, accounting for 18 of the 52 models, followed by ink-jet and thermal-transfer units, which were equally distributed (12 each), and LED-array fax machines (10). Unlike the previous period in which three thermal units were presented, no thermal units were introduced this time. But while laser-based units also led the previous period's introductions, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the models offered then, they make up a little over one-third of the models currently being introduced.
· Volume: Thirty of the new models are classified by the manufacturer as low-volume units (which accounts for the high number of ink-jet and thermal-transfer units), while 13 are classified as mid-volume units, and nine are categorized as high-volume units. In the previous period, an equal number of high-volume and low-volume units were introduced.
· Modem: Nearly an equal number of new models offer 33.6-Kbps (25) and 14.4-Kbps (22) modems. (In the previous period, the number of models offering 14.4-Kbps and 33.6-Kbps modems was also almost equally divided.) While all of the high-volume units come equipped with 33.6-Kbps modems, it's noteworthy that one-third of the low-volume units offer 33.6-Kbps modems. And as in the previous period, the majority of models with 14.4-Kbps modems are low-volume units. Models with 33.6-Kbps modems range in price from $249, the estimated street price for the Canon MultiPASS C755, to $4,995 for the Pitney Bowes Model 4130 (prices for four units are estimated street prices; prices are unavailable for four models), while models with 14.4-Kbps modems are priced from about $150 to about $2,700 (prices for two models are estimated street prices; prices for two models are unavailable). Models with 9.6-Kbps modems start at about $130 and top out at about $280. Of the 22 units with a standard 14.4-Kbps modem, only the Lanier 1210 allows users to upgrade to a 33.6-Kbps modem.
· JBIG: Sixteen of the 52 recently introduced models offer JBIG (Joint Bi-level Image experts Group), a compression method, particularly effective for halftones and/or graphic images, that can help reduce phone costs, compared with nearly half of the 65 models from the previous period. Thirteen of the 16 new introductions offering JBIG have 33.6-Kbps modems, while only three have 14.4-Kbps modems, compared with seven models in the previous period. Three of the new models offering this compression method are low-volume units, six are mid-volume units, and seven are high-volume units.
· Multifunctionality: Unlike the previous period, in which only a small group of units offered more than one interface, fully half (22) of the 44 units offering multifunctionality offer two or more interfaces standard and/or optional. Specifically, two units offer standard parallel and standard serial interfaces and nine units come equipped with standard parallel and standard Universal Serial Bus (USB) interfaces, while three units offer standard parallel and standard USB ports plus a standard or optional network interface. And eight units offer standard or optional Ethernet interfaces along with varying combinations of optional and/or standard parallel and serial interfaces. Of those 22 units offering a single interface, 12 are parallel (nine standard, three optional), six are serial (four standard, two optional), three are network interfaces and one is USB.
· Dual lines: A 33.6-Kbps dual-line option is offered on four units, a decrease of eight units from the previous period. With the Lanier Model 2005, JBIG is also available as an option for the second line. Of the new models, only the Muratec MFX-1600 ($3,495), a mid-volume unit, and the Oki Data OKIFAX 5950 Dual Line, a high-volume unit, offer a second standard 33.6-Kbps phone line.
· Memory: Twenty-four units (information was unavailable for four units), the majority of which are low-volume faxes, come equipped with less than 2 MB of memory. Seven units have a 2-MB standard memory (three units offer 2.5 MB). Five units provide between 4 MB and 5 MB of memory, five units offer 8 MB and four units come equipped with 12.5 MB. (In the previous period, the majority of units tested were also equipped with 2 MB of memory or less.) Sixteen of the 48 units offer memory upgrades.
· Automatic document feeder: Twenty-three units, mostly low-volume models, have automatic document feeders with a capacity of 20 sheets or less, while 15 fax machines, most of which are low-volume units, have a 30-sheet capacity (one low-volume model has a 40-sheet capacity). Twelve units, primarily high-volume models, have a 50-sheet capacity and one unit, the Lanier Model 2005 ($3,995), a high-volume fax, has a capacity of 75 sheets.
· Paper capacity: Thirty-one units, mostly low-volume models, have a standard paper capacity of 200 sheets or less. Fifteen units, nearly half of which are high-volume fax machines, have a 250-sheet paper capacity and five units have a capacity of between 350 and 550 sheets. One unit-the Sharp FO-6700, a high-volume fax machine with a suggested retail price of $3,295-has a standard capacity of 1,250 sheets. Of the 52 units, 19 models, the majority of which are low-volume fax machines, have a maximum paper capacity of between 50 and 100 sheets and 12 have a maximum capacity of between 125 and 200 sheets. Seven units have a maximum capacity of between 250 and 500 sheets, six models have a maximum capacity of 750 sheets and eight units, mostly high-volume, max out at between 850 and 1,250 sheets.
· Print speed: Manufacturer-rated black-and-white print speeds range from 2 ppm to 10 ppm for low-volume units, with two low-volume models (Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet K80 and Xerox WorkCentre XK50cx) offering a 12-ppm print speed, while mid-volume print speeds range from 6 ppm to 12 ppm, with two mid-volume units (the Brother MFC-9200C and the Muratec MFX-1600) offering even faster print speeds of 14 ppm and 16 ppm, respectively. Print speeds range from 8 ppm to 15 ppm for high-volume models.
· Special features: Vendors continue to introduce models with Internet fax capability, which allows users to send documents to e-mail addresses, saving money by bypassing telephone toll-call charges. New models offering this as a standard feature include the Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet K60 and the Oki Data OKIFAX T.37 Internet Fax, while the Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet K80, Konica Fax 9930, Lanier Model 2005 and Oki Data OKIFAX T.38 Internet Fax offer it as an option. Vendors are also continuing to introduce more models with color capabilities. For example, color faxing, printing and scanning are available on the Brother MFC-7300C, MFC-7400C and MFC-9200C, Canon MultiPASS C555 and C755, Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet K60 and K80 and Xerox XK50cx, while the Samsung SF-4700 and Xerox WorkCentre 490CX offer color printing.
For more information about the Fall 2000 Multifunctional Specification Guide, Facsimile-Based Products, check BLI's Web site at www.buyers-lab.com or call 201-488-0404.