Pros: cross-cut, doesn't wear down, handles variety of paper thicknesses, large capacity basket
Cons: very heavy lid, thicker paper strains motor, can't handle staples or paperclips
The Staples SPL-826X 8 Sheet Shredder is a mid-line shredder that cross-cut shreds up to 8 sheets at a time. Selling for around $40, it supposedly handles one credit card (I've not had the chance to try one) but will not take either staples or paper clips.
Roughly the size of a paper grocery bag but ovular instead of rectangular, the shredder is fairly elegant yet fits in a corner without being obtrusive. The can is a fine mesh with shallow handles to make it easy to move about and is one of the more elegant shredders I've seen.
Of course, unless you're looking to make it an accent piece, none of that matters much if it doesn't do a good job shredding documents. While not perfect, the SPL-826X is a good shredder. It handles normal 20 lb paper, thicker papers, and even cardboard. If you're not recycling the results, it will also shred flexible plastics well. For example, you can shred tissue boxes even if they have plastic sections attached to the box opening. This frees up a lot of extra space in your trash, something that may be important if you live in a rural area and only get a limited amount of trash pickup for free.
I've never tried to shred more than 4-5 sheets at once, but the shredder handles those without problems. It does seem to slow down a bit and the gears get a bit louder whenever you're shredding any cardboard, cardstock, or other items thicker than generic 20 lb paper even if you're only putting through one sheet and that sheet is thinner than a stack of several sheets of 20 lb paper it will shred without difficulty.
The shredder is on the loud side and it takes a few seconds for the gears to stop once it finishes shredding. All shredders are pretty loud, but this one seems worse than most to me, especially when shredding thicker items.
The slot for shredding is only 9" long even though the shredder itself is 14" long. It would be nice to have a wider slot to make it even easier to send paper through, but this is certainly sufficient. 8.5x11 pages go through smoothly and there is enough extra leeway that you don't have to line up the sheets perfectly. The shredder is perfectly happy shredding pages that are slightly crooked; some other shredders I've used get stuck or really have to grind these sheets but the SPL-826X just handles them without any fuss.
I'm not sure exactly how many sheets the basket holds, but it's definitely more than any non-industrial sized shredder I've used. An individual, family, or small office could use this shredder regularly and still only need to empty the basket no more than every few weeks. Compare that to my Fellowes FS5M shredder (admittedly a smaller and cheaper shredder) which has maybe a fifth of the capacity of this model and needs to be emptied after every two or three uses.
This is a good thing because you need to remove the shredding mechanism from the top of the basket to empty it and you don't want to do that very often. It's extremely heavy, much more so than any other shredder I've used that uses this type of paper clearing method. If you're looking for a shredder for personal use and can't handle lifting around 30 pounds, this probably isn't the shredder for you.
If you have legal requirements for your shredding, the Staples SPL-826X should meet most of them. The shredder cuts paper into 1" x 1/8" pieces, about the standard for all cross-cut models. Obviously, you need to be aware of your specific requirements and check the specs carefully, but this shredder is certainly a potential candidate for use when legal requirements are in play.
Perhaps the nicest thing this shredder has going for it is that it very consistently just chugs along doing anything asked of it (within the bounds of its supported features) over and over and over again. Even though the gears seem stressed by the heavier papers, there's no obvious damage or slowdown even after shredding such items frequently. If you put in a lighter weight piece of paper immediately after a heavy one, the gears immediately go back to normal. It's probably putting some extra wear on the mechanisms and may lower the overall life of the shredder, but if so, the shredder has very long life with normal usage. Other shredders I've used have really started showing signs of age and wear after only a couple of months. The Staples SPL-826X still seems as good as new after more than six months of fairly heavy home usage. That's a major plus in my book and more than enough to put up with the other little idiosyncrasies mentioned above. If you're in the market for a shredder and want something that can handle a variety of paper thicknesses and that will last a long time, try the Staples SPL-826X shredder.