Fellowes AutoMax 200C AutoFeed Shredder Review

Fellowes AutoMax™ 200C, under $400 online, combines secure cross-cut shredding with the convenience of automatic feed, just like a printer’s Auto Document Feeder.

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What a smart combination! Gone are the hours spent hand-feeding documents, even shorts stacks of them, using a conventional shredder. Fellowes AutoMax shredders change one’s perception of shredding for the better, with an added element of fun and wonder as well as functionality.

 

Pros – Ideal for individual use in home office/small office; easy operation; 200-sheet auto feeder; 397 piece-per-sheet cross-cut with vertical, multi-sheet opening that accepts up to 10 8-1/2” x 14”sheets, plus credit cards, mail junk removal, optical discs; AutoFeed tray accepts 8-1/2” x 11” paper with staples, paper clips, up to 20 sheets stapled (pull apart stapled paper stacks of more than 20 sheets), up to 20 paper-clipped sheets or remove paper clip; auto reverse feature to prevent jams; 8.5 gal plastic bin that does not promote static electricity cling as with hard plastic bins and does not need bag liner; quieter than most (not silent) operation compared with many other shredders; auto 12-minute duty cycle with 20-minute cool down period and automatic resume; automatic sleep mode after two minutes of inactivity; two year warranty provides service and support against defects in material and workmanship (to original purchaser); seven year warranty against defects on cutting blades (see product documentation for details); four easy-roll wheels. See the User Manual PDF.

Cons – Not really a negative, but users need be aware that it requires footprint of 22-3/16″ x 13-5/8″ x 20″ attributable to AutoFeed feature’s mechanism.

 

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For close to 20 years I have tested and evaluated paper shredders. Along the way, I have developed a healthy respect for the Fellowes brand. This latest product makes me smile every time I load a stack of papers into the auto feeder. I had become accustomed to manually feeding the relatively few sheets all the other shredders would accept at one pass. When dealing with an accumulated stack of papers to be shredded, I’d park myself in front of the TV and start shredding. Then, when the machine’s duty cycle timed out (a normal occurrence due to a time in use and heat limit that had been reached), I’d wait for temp light to go out and then resume. And so it would begin again, often for an hour or more in one session. This is even with the best of intentions to shred as needed right away. That’s just not practical around here.

I learned long ago that using a good paper shredder is at the forefront of an effective plan to protect one’s identity. Papers with personally identifiable information get shredded – names with addresses, account numbers and junk mail. That’s the rule (along with other good habits and practices toward identity protection).

In preparation for the arrival of the AutoMax 200C for review, we searched here at Gadget Central to find as much as possible to feed this shredder. We found enough to create a stack more than 12 inches high. Now, it was time to put this new toy through its paces.You can read more on Fox Bingo Promo Code

The lid opened with a press of the lid release button at the unit’s top front, and I was ready to load it up. I knew that papers could not be totally, indiscriminately placed in the auto feeder. Pages with minor crumbling and those with dog-eared corners would pass through, but not if the stack was messy. After learning the hard way, we made sure the stacks were pretty well squared up and neat. The unit jammed to a stop a couple of times due to what I call “defective customer.” That would be ME! Too many sheets were stapled together. Several pieces of less than full sheets of paper were pulled in along with full sheets that also disrupted normal operation. Crumbled, then straightened papers were drawn into the mechanism but did not feed properly. The auto-reverse capability to undo jams had been exceeded. Nor did the manual reverse button help. My bad.

I had to open up and carefully finesse the partially munched bunch out. Success!

What was learned was the value of thinking ahead, with using THIS shredder in mind. Now, we load the AutoFeed tray as we go. However, sometimes we stack the papers outside the shredder until the end of the day and then load up the AutoFeed tray. During the day, without anything in the AutoFeed tray, we are free to let the 200C shred old credit cards, CDs and DVDs and the occasional odd sheet through the manual feed slot.

It can’t do both at the same time, so users must decide to auto feed or manually feed – Another reason to think ahead.

You’ll have to figure out your own rhythm.

With the machine’s master disconnect power switch in the ON position and the machine left alone, it goes into Sleep Mode after two minutes of inactivity. To exit Sleep Mode, open the lid and load paper OR insert paper into the manual feed slot. If the 200C has master power OFF, we switch it ON, press the Power button on the front display and press the universal “Play” symbol (a right arrow) to begin the auto shredding process. And then, whoever has begun the process . . . walks away. The 200C shreds on, unassisted, its sensors detecting the AutoFeed tray contents and paper path, and when the job is finished. If it needs to rest, it does, and then it resumes unassisted. Amazing!

What enters the bin below is considered to be a respectable Security Level P4. That is, a single sheet is shredded into 397 pieces, each about 5/32” x 1-1/2”. Learn more about Security Levels HERE.

A sensor below the cutters will detect if the bin becomes so full as to interfere with the exiting shreds and the unit will stop, generating the red Bin Full LED and symbol. Time to open the bin and press the mess down. Ultimately, it will be time to empty the bin. I am accustomed to lining my shredder bins with a plastic bag. In my experience, static cling has prevented the bins from being easily emptied without a bag, due to static electricity’s forces. It has been easier to gather the bag, lift it out and place it in the trash.

No bags are needed in the 200C. I just pull out the bin, using the handle that is hidden and integrated in the upper edge of the bin’s clear front window, and dump the contents into a LARGE trash bag. It is not easy to do so into a typical, small, 13-gallon trash bag, so I dump into big leaf-size bags.

Of course, the shredder will not operate with the bin removed or with the top open. With the bin removed, I always flip the master switch to OFF, then reach in to free the clingons from the cutters.

As with any shredder, there is maintenance to perform, whether or not you have known and done this before. It’s simple, really. Apply a few drops of non-aerosol, NOT petroleum-based lubricant across the cutters located under the lid. I use the oil supplied with the shredder and buy a larger size for about $10 when the sample is exhausted. It lasts a long time, through many applications. Close the lid, press and hold the forward (right-arrow/Play/Start) symbol for 2-3 seconds.

The other maintenance item is cleaning the Auto-Start sensors. Once again, with power OFF (just to be safe, you may wish to unplug the shredder), open the lid and locate the Auto-Start sensor at the top front. It’s a dark plastic-covered twin lens affair, easily cleaned with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Perform BOTH maintenance items regularly, ideally every time the bin is emptied. Otherwise, how will you remember? If this maintenance is done with great regularity, the shredder should last and last through years of trouble free use. I know this to be true from past experience.

In conclusion, who knew shredding could be so interesting and even fun. Now I do and so do you.

Use your Fellowes AutoMax 200C with confidence, and have fun.