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Often when buying products what I fail to take into consideration is the hidden costs of ownership - the bags for the hoover, the filter for the fridge and the rather expensive bin bags that I buy in bulk to name a few miscellaneous items on which I spend money on a monthly basis. You'd think though, wouldn't you, that a simple item like a paper trimmer would be free from such unforeseen complications?
Not so, for this is the paper trimmer with surprisingly high running costs.
The Fellowes Neutron A4 Paper trimmer is, as the name suggests, what is known in the teaching trade as a guillotine. According to the manufacturer it's designed for "occasional use in the home" as opposed I would assume for commercial use. It's a light weight item as the base is made of plastic, it weighs in at 1.5kg, and despite its light weight it does feel fairly solid, and the guide lines to show you the size you are cutting are well printed. The base is printed to show other handy sizes such as standard A5 and 10cm by 15cm photo size. The three yellow buttons on this device are to pop out replacement cartridges, non of which are actually supplied with this model. There's a slideable gripper for the paper, which works quite well, and then we come to the crux of the matter; the cutting blade.
On the plus side this trimmer is as safe as you can get - the blade is encased in a cartridge which fits into the yellow housing you can see on the photo above. The only way you can get it to cut (and I say this with relief as the mother of the child who recently managed to do herself some quite bad damage with some scissors that I thought were out of her reach), is by pressing down on the yellow housing and sliding it along the guide, it's a rotary blade which is fully contained in the easy to change cartridge. There is simply no way of hurting yourself with this, it's foolproof.
However, the manufacturer's claim that this will cut through 10 80gsm sheets of paper, as contained in the multi-language instruction booklet that comes with the trimmer, does seem a trifle optimistic, the most I've managed with any success is 8. I've found that, with careful use and pressing quite hard, this trimmer does cut through paper, preferably a sheet at a time, fairly well, but there's a bit of a knack to it, you have to press exactly the right amount and though you *can* cut in a straight line results can be varied. Mainly the results are not significantly better than those you would expect to get from a pair of sharp scissors (not that I actually have a pair of those right now having hidden them in a "safe place" that is so safe I can't find them, after the aforementioned scissor domestic accident).
The main issue, however, that I have with this item is the fact that the cartridge is only designed to be used for a certain amount of time and has to be replaced. I've used this a fair amount for trimming digital photos and the children's art work and there's no sign of it dulling yet, but when it does I know that it is going to cost me the at least £8 to get another two blades or a whole £9 if I want to buy 3 different blades; a wavy one, a straight one and a perforating blade. What's more this isn't the end to the expenditure, oh no, you also need to buy replacement strips which fit into a gully and which have a cutting guide on them. Though reversible these will too need replacing over time and cost another £8 or so for 3. In all honesty this is ridiculous as there is no actual need for the guide to be made of something which needs replacing, unless of course the maker is just looking for a reason for you to spend more money - surely not?
Overall then, this trimmer cuts moderately well, at vast expense if you use it more than very very occasionally. I'm not sure really why it is so over engineered and who it is aimed at - a crafter is probably going to want a more robust item and really it's only any use for anyone who hasn't got a good pair of scissors and particularly wants to have a rather large ugly plastic item to store. That I don't find it better than it actually is does fill me with disappointment, mainly for the fact that I received this item for review from amazon, and was hoping it would be better than it is, and suspect that I won't have the heart to shell out good money on replacement bits when the cartridge and guide run out. It's currently on sale for £15 on amazon, which is expensive, it's not particularly brilliant and the downside running costs far outweigh the benefits of being able to trim paper. When I relocate my scissors I will be mainly using them instead, and on that basis I can't, in all good consciousness, recommend it.