I recommend the Brother Laser MFCs – they have a document feeder, can print, scan, fax, copy and even reasonably OCR.
I have the 7420. I use it for the normal stuff, printing, copying, scanning, out bound faxing when its just easier to dial the digits (such as those pesky IRS notices I have to get to my accountant). The Brother is plugged into the landline and so is my accountant’s fax machine, so there’s no worry about encryption or the chance interception of sensitive information over the internet.
I also have online fax through my Onebox account. I primarily use Onebox for the incoming – calls, voicemails, faxes because I have access to the files, messages and documents that are in my account from anywhere. I download directly to where needed and delete the rest.
Back to why I recommend Brother MFCs… I also like Brothers as they have a small footprint, automatic document feeders, hold a decent amount of paper and are TWAIN compliant. Being TWAIN compliant means they play nice nice with other tech such as Dymo File below.
I have heard some complain that their Brother printers seem to have issues with jamming when using envelopes. I have a Dymo Twin Turbo and use that for labels so really have no need to print to anything but standard paper. I’ve also heard they can be slow – so make sure any model you get is rated for 20 ppm (pages per minute) or above.
Now, the best deals I have seen on Brother printers are when they go on sale at your local office supply chain store and at MicroCenter. Of course, you can always check through http://www.pricegrabber.com (HT to Ross Kodner) to see if there are deals on line for one.
In the legal realm especially, there are those who swear by their Fujitsu ScanSnap (including Ross) but I have to point out there are differences. Some downsides to a Scansnap are that it is not also fax/printer/copier AND you can only scan pages through it. It does not have a flatbed scanner, like the Brother Laser MFCs.
If you scan a lot, you might want to look into DymoFile – which helps with the scan to file process by allowing you to create a reservation, print out a cover sheet with a bar code which you place in front of the document to be scanned. You can stack as many jobs together as you wish. Whenever you get around to scanning, Dymo File reads the bar code and places the document immediately following the code into the proper folder. No muss, no fuss (does NOT work with Scansnaps).
(and smootches to Ms. Marilou for noticing I used “complaint” instead of “compliant” – 2x!!)