Friday, July 12, 2013

Office Equipment Review: Swingline Optima 20 Electric Three Hole Punch

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Easily punches holes in paper without any effort from you
Cons: A bit on the pricey side.
The Bottom Line
Quickly punches sheets
With the press of a finger
It's just so easy




I've Met an Electronic Three Hole Punch and Life Will Never be the Same

Over the years, I have used a lot of things to punch holes in paper.  I started with a single hole bunch and binder paper as a guide.  Then I transitioned to a manual three hole puncher and then a lever one.  I thought both of those were cool at the time.  But now that I’ve met the Swingline Optima 20 Electric Three Hole Punch, there is no going back.

This machine is just what it sounds like.  It’s about twice the size of a traditional hand three hole puncher, but it’s so much more powerful with less work from me.  It’s mostly gray with a black area on top to activate the punching and a clear area at the bottom to collect the punched paper.

Since this is electric, it needs a power source.  It comes with an electric cord (check your Styrofoam).  That means you need to keep it plugged in near an electric outlet.  If that doesn’t work for you, you can use 6 AA batteries to power it.

To punch holes, simply slip them into the machine.  It can handle up to 20 pages at a time.  Put in more, and you’ll hear the motor really working.  I don’t recommend it.  It’s hard to put in more than that anyway because the opening will keep you from slipping in too many more.  It can also cause a problem if you are trying to punch something with several staples in it since they increase the width of the stack of papers.  Just take the staples out and you’re good to go.

There is a paper stop at the bottom of the machine that will align the holes perfectly. And you can gently press the paper in until it hits the back.  Still worried that the holes won’t be in the right spot?  There are small orange markers in the front of the machine that indicate where the holes will go.  Really, they couldn’t make it any easier for you.

So, the paper is in and you’re ready to punch?  Just press on the center of the large black area on the top of the machine.  You’ll hear the whirl of the motor and then three successive punches.  It takes just about two seconds, and then you’ll hear the motor shut off.  It’s done.  Take out your newly holed paper and you’re ready to go.

I mentioned earlier that the punched paper collects in a clear area.  That makes it easy to see when you need to empty it.  The clear plastic cover flips up, and you can dump it right into your garbage or recycling.  Depending on how full you let it get, you might want to have the can ready to go because as soon as it open it, the holes could start spilling out.

This sound basic, and it really is that easy.  The machine does the hard work of creating the holes, and all you have to do is get the paper in correctly.  And it’s so easy to keep an eye on the paper waste that is building up so you are never guessing when it needs to be emptied.

The downside is that, at roughly $120, it is expensive.  But if you do a lot of three hole punching, it is completely worth it.

If you try to punch too many pages at a time, the drillers will retract and you’ll be left with non-punched or partially punched pages.  Unfortunately, that can also leave paper residue in the back of the machine that keeps you from getting pages in correctly.  (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.)  You’ll have to go in and dig out the paper by hand.  There is no easy way to open up the machine and get at it.  Then again, I’ve had to do that more times than I care to admit with the manual three hole punchers.

Swingline's Optima 20 Electric Three Hole Punch falls into the category of items I didn’t know existed but I absolutely had to have.  It’s wonderful.  There is no going back.

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