What office devices do you need in a small modern office?

The answer looks very obvious and most people will create a simple list pretty quickly:
  • 1. Phone
  • 2. Printer
  • 3. Fax Machine
  • 4. Scanner
  • 5. Copier

All these devices require regular maintenance and periodically may stop working (when you need them mostly). Thankfully we live in computers and Internet age and can replace most these devices and save our time and money. Many people already use internet phone calls to replace expensive international phone services. Such services provide great value for reasonable money. Even local calls can get benefits because most services provide conference call or video call features.

Next is printer. Printer is one of the devices that cannot be replaced completely yet. Although printer usage definitely goes down as more and more tablets and other hand-held devices grow on market. But there are still many cases when hard copy is required. Now many people started using internet services for photo printing: better quality and no need to think about inks.

Fax machine. It is really surprising how often these devices are still in use. Despite that every organization has e-mail and sending scanned or photographed copy is very convenient. There are still a lot of organizations, like consulates, require fax copy. Good news is that physical device is no longer required and for occasional use Internet Fax services can be very convenient. Like Internet phone services replaced usual phone there are many Internet fax services for sending and receiving faxes. So having just with scanner allows sending a fax via Internet.

Scanner. As printer usage goes down same happens with scanners. Now scanners can be replaced by digital cameras or cameras in smartphones. But if business requires high quality scans nothing can replace scanner. Only scanners can provide high quality images that are suitable for OCR and intelligent post processing. So for invoices and high volume batch processing scanners are not replaceable.

Copier. It is a device which allows getting content from one piece of paper and putting it on another. So if you have scanner and printer you may not need it at all. Another benefit of using scanner and printer tandem is ability to redact and control what will be copied.

Let’s summarize

We still need the following hardware devices: printer and scanner as we cannot replace them. We can avoid paying additional Fax line and international phone line using software products and services. Let’s look into software that helps with these tasks.

For internet call there are two leaders: Skype and Google Voice at the moment. Both services provide different applications that make using them as simple as using regular phone. Also for local or service to service call these are extremely cheap or free at all.

As for faxing software or copier functionality or just simple scan we can recommend CloudScan application. It allows do scanning from a browser, scanning from mobile devices, sending faxes, print and redacting scanned images. It also allows share scanner across network (this means that you need to buy just one device and share it like most printers are shared in organizations). CloudScan is free for all scanning functionality. So you can scan to PDF for free.