When it comes to choosing the best paper shredder, more reviewers recommend the Fellowes Intellishred series than any other. particularly the Fellowes Intellishred PS-79Ci (*Est. $180). Users praise its jam-free guarantee, safety features, quiet operation and a 6-gallon pull-out bin on wheels. This style of paper shredder, sometimes called a "console" type, eliminates the need to lift off the motor and cutters every time the shredder's bin needs emptying. At 21.5-inches high, the Fellowes PS-79Ci is short enough to tuck under a desk.
This paper shredder carries a two-year warranty (the industry standard is one year). The Fellowes paper shredder also has a long duty cycle compared to other shredders' specifications; it's rated to run continuously for 12 minutes before needing a 20-minute cooling off period. In addition to shredding office paper, staples, small paper clips and credit cards, the Fellowes PS-79Ci can shred CDs and DVDs. The Fellowes PS-79Ci also has several safety features, including a patented sensor that shuts it off automatically if a hand touches the area around the insertion slot, making this model a good choice for homes with children. The basic power switch is hidden in the back, and a safety flap covers the slot that's dedicated to credit cards and CDs.
The most rigorous professional review of the PS-79Ci can be found at Popular Mechanics, where editors conducted several tests in an attempt to jam the shredder (which they were unable to do). Older professional reviews at Slate.com and by a New York Times technology expert also recommend this shredder for its jam-proof design and quiet operation. So do owners reviewing it at Amazon.com, Staples.com, Walmart.com, Fellowes.com and OfficeDepot.com. As with most paper shredders, owners report best results when feeding fewer than the manufacturer-claimed 12 sheets per pass. We found minor complaints about the bin design tearing plastic liners; it's not clear whether or not these were the bags designed for it by Fellowes.
Some owners say the Fellowes PS-79Ci doesn't handle unopened junk mail well -- a disappointment since it's handy to toss in a whole envelope at a time. By contrast, the less expensive Staples SPL-TXC122A (*Est. $150) gets high marks from owners on this score. It also earns high ratings in comparison tests and in owner-written reviews at Staples.com. The main drawback is that this is a wastebasket-style paper shredder, and we found quite a few comments from owners wishing it had a pull-out bin instead.
The Staples SPL-TXC122A shreds everything the PS-79Ci handles except for paper clips. The Staples paper shredder carries only a one-year warranty and runs continuously for up to six minutes -- half as long as the Fellowes PS-79Ci -- but shreds at double the speed of most models. A red lock-out key is the only safety feature; the main power switch is in full view (where a child could reach it easily), and there's no sensor to shut off the shredder if a hand gets too close to the insertion slot.
A few other models of note: The OfficeMax 10-sheet Micro-Cut Shredder (*Est. $140) is quiet and earns good ratings at OfficeMax.com and Amazon.com, but it cannot shred CDs and it lacks any safety features. The Royal HD1400MX (*Est. $110) also earns criticism because it comes with obtrusive labels that owners at Amazon.com say are nearly impossible to remove -- a cosmetic but still annoying detail, say owners. The quiet (58 decibel) Black & Decker CC1500 (*Est. $190) earns criticism at Amazon.com for poor bin design. The quiet, energy-saving GoEcoLife GXC120Ti (*Est. $300) is really bulky and probably overkill for home use, reviewers say. So is the similar GoEcoLife GX1200 (*Est. $130) at Costco; neither model has any standout safety features.
Compact paper shredders (with bins sized below 5 gallons) are designed to fit into small spaces -- beneath a desk, on a desktop or tucked into a small nook.
The 12-sheet Fellowes P-12Cs paper shredder, also called the P-12C (*Est. $130), is designed to go under a desk or in another tight space. It's slim but deep: 17 inches from front to back but only 8.75 inches wide. The 4-gallon bin pulls out from this narrow front so you don't have to lift off the top to empty it. Safety features include a sensor that turns off the shredder if a hand comes too close to the opening. There's also a power switch hidden in the back, and controls that lock the shredder in the on or off position.
One drawback is that this model doesn't shred data disks. Also, the pull-out bin lacks wheels so it can catch on carpet; quite a few owners say it's also messy to empty. Controls are recessed on top of the unit, which can make them hard to see. Several owners reviewing it at Fellowes.com, OfficeDepot.com and Amazon.com also report that it's noisy. If you need an extra safe shredder for a small space, though, this is the best model we found.
Some paper shredders are even smaller, designed for desktop use. The Staples Mailmate M7 (*Est. $90) is a crosscut shredder that measures just 12 inches high (by 12.7 inches wide, 10.3 inches deep), and the 1.62-gallon bin pulls out for easy emptying. Operating at only 65 decibels, the Mailmate M7 is almost twice as quiet as the earlier 70-decibel Staples Mailmate M5 (*Est. $70), which many users complain is too loud.
Reviewers say the Staples Mailmate M7 is quite capable, despite its small size. It shreds data discs and unopened junk mail as well as paper clips, staples and credit cards -- and up to 12 sheets per pass (though as with all paper shredders, it's wise to take claimed capacity with a grain of salt). The main drawback of the Mailmate M7, compared with the Fellowes P-12C and the Mailmate M5, is the lack of any safety features. (The Mailmate M5 has the raised, high-contrast buttons the CPSC recommends, plus a blade guard.)