Wading through the milling crowd at the International Consumer Electronics Show, the object caught my attention rising up from the table, gleaming white: The Mr. Fusion device that powered the DeLorean time machine in the Back to the Future films.
At least that's what it looked like. Black & Decker's general manager for the company's workspace solutions group quickly dispelled my fantastical misapprehension.
"It's a vertical paper shredder," Joel Wasserman said. The explanation, while factually descriptive, seemed deceptively simple. Asked what he meant, he explained that the vertical paper shredder was designed to address one of the foremost concerns about paper shredders in the home office: Safety.
The vertical paper shredder's cylinder seals all of the moving parts inside, Mr. Wasserman explained. Nothing is exposed, and there is no way to sustain an accidental blade injury. Paper is fed into the crosscut shredder through a slot that runs the length of the cylinder, and is deposited into the semi-conical base below, whose sloped sides funnel the waste toward one point for disposal -- no more accidentally covering your carpet with confetti when you aim for the waste basket.
"It handles junk mail, too," Mr. Wasserman said. "You know those credit card applications you get in the mail that have the sample plastic card inside? You don't even need to open them. You can just put them in and the blades can chop them up -- saves you time."
Another shredder in Black & Decker's lineup is designed to be slim, wall-mounted and does double duty as a whiteboard. It looks like it belongs on the International Space Station.
As more people work from home, they want a shredder that doesn't look out of place there, Mr. Wasserman explained, noting that clean, elegant design is a part of that.
Both of these shredders launch in the United States this month and although no specific plans are in place for Canada, it's possible they will appear there -- as other Black & Decker products do -- toward the end of 2011.
The vertical shredder is priced at $99.99 and the wall-mounted unit is set at $79.99