Friday, May 9, 2008

2-conductor line cords for H-P fax machines

A few times each year I get inquiries from people who need to replace the line cord for a Hewlett-Packard fax machine. The instruction manual and the HP website warn that only a two-conductor cord should be used instead of the much more common four-conductor cord, but people have trouble finding one.

There is no technical reason why a fax, or a phone, or any single-line telecom device that normally requires two conductors, would not work with a four-conductor cord, when the extra wires are not connected to anything; but HP keeps insisting on it.

I checked with HP tech support. I was told that 99% of the time, their fax machines will work just fine with four-conductor cords, but in about one percent of the time, the extra two conductors (wires) can act as an antenna and pick up interference that hurts faxing.

Why a 1% chance leads to the "You must use a cable that has only two copper leads" warning is beyond me.

And I also don't understand why Panasonic, Brother, Sharp, NEC and other brands don't worry about it.

And I don't understand why HP chooses to ignore all of the other pairs of wire that may be inside the wall behind the jack where the fax is plugged in.

I think the real reason why HP supplies two-wire cords with their fax machines is that they save a couple of pennies on each one.

However, keep in mind that if your faxing is going gaflooey, and you’re using a four-conductor line cord, there is a 1% chance that the cord really is the source of the trouble.

Now you know the truth. So, if you’ve tried everything else, now try another cord. CLICK to get one at The website also has a huge selection of phone cords and accessories, and bargain priced flat rate shipping to all 50 states. and lots of info about phone cords. (Disclaimer: it's my website.)

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