Professional answering machines come in multiple varieties, including cordless, digital or those that record messages on tape. A telephone answering machine (TAM) may also come with periphery devices, such as a built-in fax machine or scanner. Some professional answering machines are featured as separate systems that are attached to a telephone via an electric cord, while others are built into telephone devices.
Also known as a message machine, professional answering machines operate with the same purpose as do voicemail systems. Telephones accompanied by a messaging device are used for recording messages left by inbound callers. Such minimizes or eliminates the need for a live person answering phones and writing messages for individuals who are not available for phone calls at a given time.
Some professional answering machines record outgoing and incoming messages on a removable tape. Such allows the tape to be changed intermittently and previous tape recordings to be physically stored in a safe place. These types of machines are sometimes preferred by individuals and organizations with a need to archive certain messages and keep them in storage for long periods of time.
Other professional answering machines record and store messages digitally. While different storage options do exist for this type of TAM, messages are usually digitally archived. In some instances, recordings can be digitally transferred to another device, such as a memory card, for long-term storage or for use on other computing devices. Whether professional answering machines use tape or digital recording, however, both operate in much the same way. Differences are sometimes noted in the quality of a recording with digital recordings often being of a higher quality than other types.
Many digital answering machines also offer automatic memory backup. Such is particularly useful to businesses and individuals concerned about the safety of messages in the event of a power failure. Some also offer owners the opportunity to record entire phone calls in jurisdictions where such a practice is legal.
Certain answering machines only offer a single mailbox for outgoing and incoming messages. Other professional answering machines, however, offer multiple mailbox storage solutions. While many offer multiple mailboxes for incoming messages, certain systems allow for only a single outgoing message before offering a caller prompts corresponding to the mailbox she or he would like to leave a message in. Some manufacturers also offer professional answering machines that can be attached to a personal computer, which is often an ideal solution for home office workers.