Monday, October 29, 2007

Sharp’s new fax-based MFP

Faxing may be moribund, but some new products are adding new value by looking at these machines as appliances for routing documents and for enhancing office workflow. Such a machine scans in documents and distributes them using fax, email, FTP, or scan-to-folder.

That’s the approach Sharp is taking with its brand-new FO-IS125N fax-based multifunctional. This $600 (list) machine prints, copies, scans, and faxes. It uses Sharp’s Image SENDER™ technology, based on the same sophisticated scanning software that Sharp has on its high-end copier/MFPs.

According to Sharp product manager Gary Bailer, the concept was to make scanning to a destination as easy for non-tech-savvy users as faxing is. “How do I get a piece of paper form point A to point B very simply? We wanted to keep the simplicity of faxing while responding to current needs for document distribution.” Indeed, no other fax machines on the market offer the full range of scan-to options of the FO-IS125N.

In addition to allowing for the various scan-to options, the FO-IS125N offers a number of security features: including facilities for user authorization, fax rerouting, secure fax, and call restriction. For highly security-conscious sites, it offers a way of having each transmission, whether fax or scan-to-email authorized before being sent. The purpose of this feature is to automate some of the steps in gathering approvals for contract, press releases, and financial documents before they get released. That’s an area that such mandates as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA have made much more important.

Sharp has added some nice user features as well: a functional keyboard, dual-sided scanning, and LDAP addressing. True, the machine is on the slow side (prints and copies at 12ppm), but the concentration on providing an inexpensive station for secure document sending is a smart direction for prolonging the life of the past-its-prime fax machine market.

1 comment:

Darrin said...

I now have 6 of these out in the field. While the functions work fine there is a problem with the drum units. After about 1000 received faxes the drum starts squealing. This has happened on all of the machines out in the field. We replaced drums and the replacement drums gave the same squealing results at about the same amount of received faxes. I have contacted Sharp but have heard nothing back yet. We are no longer selling the Sharp FO-IS125N until this problem is resolved.