Product Type: Fellowes shredders
Newest Review: ... but to go shopping (yes, ACTUAL shopping) for one. Having paid £50 at PC World for a Fellowes P-48C, I was somewhat annoyed to f... more
This Fellowes is a Jolly Good Shredder
Member Name: Hishyeness
Advantages: Efficient, reliable and effective for occasional home and home office use
Disadvantages: In practical terms, sheet capacity is less than advertised
SHREDDING THE EVIDENCE
If the media is to be believed, we live in a society rampant with identity theft. If personal information is not disposed of properly, apparently gangs of villains will happily comb through your coffee grinds and potato peelings looking for valuable snippets of data, which they will callously use to drain your bank accounts, run up massive credit card bills and generally ruin your life. Although there is a grain of truth in this fear-mongering, I very much doubt that the reality is quite as dramatic. That said, even if the risks are somewhat overstated, it is still prudent to take some common sense measures to protect your identity and sensitive data.
Enter the humble shredder. Having invested in a fairly cheap and cheerful one a few years ago, I soon learned that not all shredders are created equal. Some only cut the paper into long thin strips, which, while better than just ripping it up and chucking it in the bin, is nowhere near as good as a cross-cut shredder, which turns the paper into unreadable confetti that would challenge the patience of even the most determined jigsaw aficionado. As such, when my previous model died a death a few months ago, I decided to replace it with a more robust model that could handle the rigours of a home office. A bit of research pointed me towards the Fellowes Powershred P-48C, which promised a good balance between price, design, features, reliability, and capacity.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
I ordered mine from Amazon for £39.99 (discounted from its £54.99 RRP) and it arrived in a sturdy cardboard box, securely packaged with environmentally sensitive materials. The unit comes in two parts - the shredder head, which also houses all of the controls, and the solid plastic bin, which has a transparent angled window at the top on the forward-facing side. Also included was a multilingual instruction manual, a three year warranty for the steel cutting blades, and a two year warranty on all of the other operating parts. The plug has a generous lead, and will be suitable for most home office set-ups. Set-up was easy - the head unit first neatly and securely onto the 18-litre capacity bin base. A rectangular aperture next to the cutting slot acts as a handle, and its position in the centre of the head unit makes it easy to take it on and off the base. The unit stands around 12 inches tall, 14 inches wide and 10 inches deep. The bin base provides a secure, stable and well balanced platform for the top heavy head unit, which can only be removed by lifting the whole assemble straight up (which ensures it can't be inadvertently knocked off).
Shredders can be dangerous in the wrong hands (and by that, I don't mean Enron executives). With two young kids in the house, I wanted to make sure the unit was safe and child-proof, and the P-48C excels in this regard. There are three separate switches you need to operate to make it work - a power switch at the back of the unit, a locking mechanism on the top (which you have to push down and slide to work), and once those two are engaged, a slider switch that operates the blades either forward, or in reverse (if you want to be ultra-safe, you can also turn the shredder off at the mains when not in use). There are also a red and green LED light at the top of the unit. The green indicates the unit is on and ready to receive paper, while the red comes on if the motor gets too hot, triggering an automatic 15 minute cool down period to prevent burn-out (the fate that befell my previous model). In addition, the head unit cannot be operated unless it is firmly in place on the top of the base bin, which prevents injury when the cutting blades are exposed.
Apart from the security of personal information, as a lawyer, my new job allows me to work from home once or twice a week, so the safe disposal of confidential and commercially sensitive documents was a major consideration. Although the P-48C is advertised as being suitable for occasional household use, it is perfectly suitable for a home office. It can handle up to eight sheets of paper at once and munches through credit cards and staples with ease. The actual size of the shredded paper is about 5mm by 50mm, which is a little larger than I expected, but small enough to do the job effectively. However, it is not suitable for laminated paper, plastic sheets, paper clips, transparencies, sticky labels (or envelopes with sticky flaps) or, oddly, newspaper. The instructions recommend that it should not be used in continuous operation for more than three to five minutes, which is ample time for ordinary every day needs.
As mentioned, the unit cuts out if you overdo it, which is only a problem if, like me, you stockpile your papers before you buy it and then embark on a major shredding exercise. The bin is a nice size and will handle a fair bit of paper before it needs to be emptied. The window at the front lets you see when it is getting full and is a useful feature. With its matte-black top and front, and slate grey sides it's not the most aesthetically pleasing design I have seen, but its not bad for an official essential. What it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in performance. Having used it on a consistent basis for two or three months now, it is proving as reliable and effective as I had hoped. The instructions recommended oiling the blades frequently with a "non-aerosol" vegetable oil dispensed in a long nozzled dropper. I have only done this once since owning it, using a little groundnut oil (which is relatively tasteless and odourless) when the motor started sounding a little rougher than usual.
AN ALMOST PERFECT SHREDDER
The P-48C is certainly living up to its references, but it does suffer from one or two minor niggles. The paper slot is only about a centimetre wide, and although it has slightly bevelled sides, getting the paper into the slot can be a little tricky, especially as it is only slightly wider than a sheet of A4 paper. On the up-side, this means you can't inadvertently feed it too much paper, or get anything (like a tie or necklace) caught in the shredder, but I think a slightly more generous slot would have made it more user friendly without sacrificing much in the way of safety. In addition, the eight sheet maximum is a little misleading, as the unit struggles a bit with this amount, so four to six sheets would be a more accurate and workable number. However, on the whole, this is a safe, cost-effective, reliable and dependable product that is suitable for most home offices, or for occasional household shredding.
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: Great performance and quality build, especially if you can get it for under £40.
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