The Staples Mailmate M5 Shredder is a desktop paper shredder that's on clearance at Staples.com. (The newer Staples Mailmate M7 (*Est. $90) is quieter and energy-saving.) Reviews find the overall performance of the Mailmate M5 excellent: enough power to handle data discs and unopened junk mail. Few users complain of paper jams, saying that the M5 paper shredder's auto-reverse feature works well.
It has raised, high-contrast control buttons plus a blade guard, safety features recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission but not incorporated into the newer Mailmate M7.
The main drawbacks of the Mailmate M5 are noise, a collection bin that's small and messy to empty, and owners' reports of early breakdowns. If you don't need a desktop model or pull-out bin, you can get more for your money with a small wastebasket-style shredder such as the well-reviewed Fellowes Powershred DS-3 (Est. $75), which builds in excellent safety protection.
ConsumerReports.org covers four larger Staples paper shredders in its objective comparison tests, making it possible to estimate how this brand compares with others. We found over 1,300 mostly enthusiastic owner-written reviews and ratings of the specific Staples MailMate M5 paper shredder at Staples.com. A technology expert recommends the MailMate M5 in a review at the New York Times, but doesn't document any testing or even hands-on usage. There are quite a few negative reviews from owners posted at Amazon.com and PCWorld.com, plus a scattering online, but these are actually of an earlier version of the Staples MailMate M5 -- more top-heavy with different controls and a narrower yet more dangerous opening.
The Staples Mailmate M5 Shredder is one of the top-rated paper shredders here, based on over 1,300 reviews from owners -- 88 percent of whom say they'd recommend this model to a friend. Most owners say it's easy and convenient to use, with plenty of power and infrequent jams. The main complaints are that the bin is small (inevitable with a desktop shredder) and that it's noisy. Staples specifies the sound level here at 70 decibels (average for a paper shredder, but indeed loud).
Review: Staples Mailmate M5 Shredder, Contributors to Staples.com
2. The New York Times
The Staples Mailmate M5 is New York Times reviewer Sam Grobart's budget-priced paper shredder choice in this rundown. He calls it "perfect for light duty shredding" but it isn't clear that he actually tried it himself.
Review: Shredders: What to Buy, Sam Grobart, March 31, 2010
Usually owner-written reviews at Amazon.com carry a lot of weight, but the model discussed here is not the current version of the MailMate M5 paper shredder. The version reviewed here, even in reviews dated 2011, is an earlier model with a narrower (and more dangerous) opening. Until this is clear, it's puzzling to see that the approximately 70 owners reviewing the MailMate M5 here give it such a low average rating (mainly for poor durability).
Review: Mailmate M5 Shredder, Contributors to Amazon.com
4. PC World
Fewer than two dozen owners review the Staples M5 MailMate paper shredder here, with most agreeing with the Amazon.com owners that this earlier version of the MailMate shredder doesn't last. Several reviewers here mention that the main problem is that it overheats.
Review: Staples MailMate Junk Mail Shredder, Contributors to PCWorld.com
This outdated video review of an earlier, narrower version of the Staples MailMate paper shredder still gives an idea of the noise level. The video also demonstrates the MailMate shredding a typical unopened advertising envelope that contains a fake credit card.
Review: Staples MailMat, "Lisa B.", Dec. 26, 2006
This objective comparison review tests only paper shredders with bigger capacity than the Staples Mailmate M5, but it's useful to see how the four Staples models included in this review stack up against other brands. Testing here is objective, with high credibility.
Review: Paper Shredders, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, October 2011