Multifunction, but hold the printer

Apparently, I’m looking for a device designed for a very peculiar niche. If so, I figure the lazyweb is the most likely place to find answers about it: I’m looking for a scanner with built-in fax functionality, but without the laser or inkjet printer element of the usual “multifunction” hardware suite. Yeah, yeah — faxes suck, but your own fax sucks less than someone else’s hunk of junk.

I have a perfectly functional printer, so the design would be something like a flatbed scanner with an inbuilt modem and fax keypad — stick some paper on the scanner, and dial away. The ideal design would have to include ethernet for printer connection and network faxing or scanning.

Sure, I could rig up a flatbed scanner and a few bits of software, but I want to see whether or not this sucker exists first. Looking for a solution, not a science project. ;-) Of course, if it doesn’t exist, I’ll start banging some of my favourite science project rocks together… SIP phone + Asterisk + network-capable flatbed scanner + hacking == rock!

Update: SIP phone + Asterisk doesn’t necessarily mean VoIP (which, as a commenter points out, is a shitty way to fax)… I’d set up a prefix to kick off the scan-and-fax process, sending the scanner input to the number dialled on the SIP phone. Just like a fax machine, only with distributed hardware components. ;-)

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7 Responses to Multifunction, but hold the printer

  1. Most multifunction scanner/fax machines also include printing because people want to use them to receive fax transmission too, which generally means printing them.

    If you had a scanner with fax functionality built in but no printer, what would it do when it received a fax transmission? It starts getting complicated enough that you may as well look at using a general purpose computer to control things.

  2. Andrew says:

    Just a fair bit of warning. Fax over VOIP is unreliable. Sure it works most of the time, but the 10% of the time that it doesn’t ends up frustrating you too much. I use Asterisk extensively and have been endlessly frustrated with faxing over VOIP. YMMV.

    See below for discussions:
    http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-Asterisk+fax
    http://www.soft-switch.org/foip.html

    Just a bit of altruistic advice.

  3. jdub says:

    James, that’s the reason why this product would end up being quite nichey. It would have to compromise mass market compatibility (ie. Windows) to focus on a slim set of well deployed standards such as PostScript/PCL and IPP/JetDirect.

  4. TinCan says:

    Good luck finding such thing. You would be better off finding a MFP that does everyting you want and ignore the printer portion. Sounds to me like you want a doc feeder. The mechanics of a doc feeder are usually the same mechanics that are used to feed print jobs. The marginal cost of NOT having a printer is very small. I would use the printer for some specic type of prinitng only (letterhead, checks, labels) and use my daily printer for daily tasks. …I hope you have a large desk! :)

  5. Tom says:

    A recent visit to the local eye-doctor and I saw an interesting product. It was basically a “Scanner server”. It had an ethernet jack and a couple of USB jacks. A small USB scanner was plugged into the USB jack.

    Looked like when they needed to “Copy” our insurance card they just put it in the scanner, hit the big green “SCAN” button on the scanner server and it scanned the document and placed it on an FTP server.

    Not sure if it’s what you are looking for, but I’m going back soon and could get brand/model if you are interested.

  6. George says:

    try avision maybe a little pricey tho

  7. Daniel says:

    HP sell a ‘Digital Sender’ (a previous job had a HP 9200c) which almost does what you’re after. The modem isn’t in the Sender, it uses a separate Windows box with some software loaded and a modem.

    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF02a/15179-64175-64404.html

    not sure how OSS friendly it is though…

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