If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely aware of power strips. Simply put, they are a way to have multiple devices that run on household electricity share one electrical outlet. You may hear them called surge protectors, which are slightly different in that they will help to manage the electrical load, and hopefully reduce the damage from power grid spikes (or from the power coming back on after a black/brownout). I’m not sure if they do anything when your plugged devices create too much power draw from the outlet (aka overloading). Surge protectors tend to be heavier and cost more, but are worth it. Make sure you have surge protection for your valuables, like computers and home theater components. Ideally, everything should be on a surge protector, so identify and replace your plain power strips.
“But Kevin”, you say, “even plain power strips are big, long, and bulky, and most of them have six or more ports. I don’t need that many.” Enter the Monster Cable Outlet To Go device.
When I was in Australia, I had the chance to buy a 3-outlet adapter plug at the airport, which I should have bought. In retrospect, it would have been worth the $12 to save time recharging my gadgets. I only brought along a single, ungrounded outlet adapter, but three devices that needed recharging: laptop, digital camera batteries, and portable DVD player. Those three outlets on the adapter would have been real handy, because each camera battery lasted about three hours, which meant six hours of walking around, then back to the hotel to wait for one battery to recharge, then head back out while the second one charges. Then more battery recharging at night, along with the laptop that needed recharging after offloading photos and writing 9-page daily blogs. The Monster Outlet To Go would have also been a fine substitute, as the single adapter would still allow me to power up to four devices.
Yes, Monster, the company that sells overpriced home theater cables and own the naming rights to my local footy team’s stadium, actually sells a useful and completely reasonably priced device. The design for this compact power strip finally addresses a concern I had – Why not make use of the other side of the strip? Instead of four outlets in a row on the same side, the Monster Outlet To Go device has two on each side, ingeniously spacing the outlets on both sides so the prongs won’t run into each other, which doubles as a gap between outlets on the same side, convenient for wall warts. So they essentially placed the four outlets in a row, but because they used both sides, they can shorten the overall length of the device. Just look at the picture to see what I mean.
You probably know how hard it is to find accessible wall outlets at airports. This device has come in handy when someone is already using the one available outlet, so I ask if I can use my 4-port strip and allow more people to plug in. No one ever said no, and two people asked where to purchase one of their own. Sometimes I’m the first one there, so I use the power strip in case someone else comes along and wants some juice (and they have).
It’s also handy in hotel rooms when you sometimes get poorly accessible outlets, and too few of them. Usually they are all occupied – the pair behind the television cabinet is powering the tuner box, television, and maybe the mini-bar/fridge, the pair by the bed is powering the lamp, clock radio, or telephone, which leaves the pair under the desk taken by the lamp or telephone, which often means you will only find one free outlet (at best), or have to unplug a lamp to get one back. The Outlet To Go provides four more outlets, enough for your laptop, various chargers, and replacing the lamp. I don’t count the pair of outlets in the bathroom, because they are too far from workspaces (and usually occupied by the hair dryer and coffee maker). The cord itself is flat and folds around the device and into an outlet to stay compact, and is about 1.2 feet long, which should be just enough extension length to get out from an inconvenient area (from behind a cabinet or under a bed, for example). Team it with the wall adapter from the Energizer Duo and mini-USB hub and you’ve still got three more outlets (use with a laptop, that lamp you had to unplug, and whatever other gadget you may have brought along).
A sub-$20 device that will generate good karma from fellow airport patrons and make things easier in hotels is a good buy.
One drawback: probably has no surge protection, but the wall won’t have any either.
Previous Travel Gear and Gadgets: