Retractable Powr-Reel: No More Beat-Up Extension Cords

April 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution 

Ever notice how beat up extension cords seem to get? I’m not talking about the delicate, super-flexible little ones that you use to stretch lamp cords or plug in indoor Christmas lights, that never come into contact with anything tougher than a dust bunny. I’m talking about the ones that are skulking in your garage, workshop or basement – the heavy-duty ones that are good for power tools and always look like they’ve been run over by the lawnmower, chewed by the dog, and recently dragged through paint and sawdust – right before someone took a hammer to the plug.

How does anyone in their right mind feel safe using an electrical component in such sorry shape? And how, again, does someone in their right mind let a highly useful yet potentially damgerous piece of equipment get into that state of disrepair? I’m not really sure on either count, but there’s one thing I do know: most of us can’t be trusted, and our extension cords should be better protected from, well… us.

Luckily, General Cable got a clue about the sad plight of working extension cords, and came up with the Powr-Reel™, a retractable 3-outlet extension cord that’s packed safely away inside a sturdy metal casing. When you’re ready to use it, just pull out the length you need (it will automatically lock into place), do what you’ve got to do, and when you’re done, retract it back into the enclosed reel with nothing more than a tug.

This is a great product on multiple levels: not only is the electrical cord saved from constant repeat beatings by its case, but you’re also spared the clutter of cable slack thanks to the lockable length. And did I mention that it makes transport just a little easier? Instead of slinging a loosely-coiled/semi-tangled cord into your trunk or truck bed, just grab the Powr-Reel’s handy case and stow it wherever you need it, without worry of damage or knots.

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Wood Cable Grommets: Invisible Cable Mangement for Wooden Desks and Furniture

Many mornings find me piling concealer (aka “cosmetic spackle”) under my eyes to cover up the dark circles and make them blend in with the rest of my deathly pale complexion, because otherwise the contrast would just look stupid. But this doesn’t apply only to girls and their makeup… no self-respecting dude would, say, get dressed head to toe in paintball camo and then put on a hot pink belt – waaaaaaay to obvious. Likewise, you probably wouldn’t want to mar the surface of a custom wood desk with a black plastic grommet – right?

Not that there’s anything wrong with a grommet that doesn’t match your desk exactly – it’s just that there are some situations in which you wouldn’t want any visual distractions from your wooden furniture, not even if the distracting elements happened to be providing some much-needed cable management. Luckily, for cases like these, there are slotted wood desk grommets.

Designed buffer the edges of cable cutouts without visibly standing out from the rest of your desk, wood countertop or table, these grommets are available in either oak or maple, and come unfinished so that you can use them in their natural state, or custom-stain them for a perfect match. And we’re not talking laminated particleboard or faux-wood plastic… these are natural hardwood, in your choice of grains.

Wood furniture grommets pop into cable cutouts just like any other type of grommet, and provide up to ⅞” of cable pass-through space. They’re perfect for desks, entertainment centers, cabinets, and even butcher-block countertops. Just think of them as stealth grommets for your finer furniture.

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The Scoop Slotted Cable Entry Plate: In-Wall A/V Cables Without the Expense of Pro Installers

April 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Electrical 

When you think of things associated with the word “scoop,” they tend to be classified as “the good stuff”… as in useful information, ice cream, and Woody Allen movies starring Hugh Jackman (don’t worry, boys, Scarlett Johansson’s in it, too). And it’s the same with cable management, hence Arlington Industries® dubbing their super awesome (and more importantly, easy to use) cable plate the Scoop™.

We’ve talked about the Scoop cable entry plate before, but there’s a new version of it that I can’t help showing off: the Scoop with Slotted Cover. While the original scoop has a (you guessed it) scoop-shaped design that helps to neatly transition home theater cables into and out of walls, the new Scoop with a slotted cover makes for an even neater finish, thanks to flexible wedge-shaped flaps that surround penetrating cables to hold them in place and fill in extra gaps around the edges.

In case you’re not familiar with them, cable entry plates like the Scoop are the perfect way to run in-wall low voltage cable without having to hire a professional or go through the hassle of terminating A/V faceplates yourself. That means you can enjoy a great-looking home theater setup without the distraction or clutter of exposed cable by doing nothing more than cutting a couple of strategic holes in your drywall (one where the cables need to start, and another where they need to end), fish your cables through the wall from Point A to Point B, and pop in a couple of entry/exit plates.

Instead of the cables being terminated to faceplates with the appropriate A/V connectors, they just come back through the wall and connect directly to your devices, so it’s essentially the same as running any other home theater cables from one spot to another, except that you happen to be hiding them behind your wall along the way.

A professional-looking finish for cheap – you’ve gotta love it.

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Manhattan High-Speed USB Flex Hub: Who Says Data Transfer Can’t Be Fun?

April 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Computer Accessories 

Early this morning, as I do on most Fridays, I took a quick peek at the reviews for today’s movie releases while perusing the headlines online. Much to my surprise, a critic whose opinion I trust said that although she was more or less dragged  to see (out of a sense of duty to her profession) the Farrelly Brothers’ take on The Three Stooges, it was, in fact, non-stop fun. So it looks like this weekend I’ll be opening my mind (and wallet) to some eye-poking, nyuk-nyuks and other assorted buffoonery even though I’ve hardly been able to make it through a single commercial for this flick. Looks like things are about to take a turn for the wacky.

In that spirit, let me introduce you to a computer accessory that’s equally fun and wacky, but in a strangely stylish way. Meet the High-Speed USB Flex Hub from Manhattan.

If someone told you “hey, I just got a USB hub that’s bendy and kind of ring-shaped and red, green, orange and yellow,” you’d probably cringe inwardly (I know I would). I love bright colors and all, but generally speaking, I prefer them separately – not in Crayola-box mish-moshes. But somehow, this totally works – it’s fun and whimsical and super sleek, yet at the same time, it’s all business… someone has to transfer all that data, after all.

So if you’re running short on USB ports on your computer but want a way to lighten up the mood at your workstation, this is definitely it. It looks great, moves data super fast, and best of all, it won’t even try to poke you in the eye. Nyuk nyuk.

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8-Outlet Swivel Surge Protector: These Outlets Twist So You Don’t Want to Shout

April 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution 

Ever plug a bunch of stuff into a surge protector and end up one measly outlet short because a couple of the fatter plugs were taking up more than their fair share of space and blocking a technically “free” receptacle? Curses! What are you supposed to do, go out and buy a whole other UPS to accommodate one stupid plug?

Actually, no – just use a 360 Electrical® Swivel Surge Protector to begin with, and you won’t end up in that low and frustrating place.

The entire idea behind the Swivel Surge Protector is that each of its 8 outlets can be strategically positioned in such a way that they can all be used at once, no matter how big neighboring plugs may be. If what you’ll be plugging into Outlet A is bulky enough to impede on Outlet B’s usable real estate, just dial Outlet A forward or backward to the point where everything will fit, and then plug in. It reminds me of one of those multi-digit combination locks, where you independently turn each successive dial to the number you need… except that there’s no set combination (just make things up as you go along), and it’s more for powering electronics than guarding your gym gear or bike. But stylistically… similar.

In addition to its shape-shifting capabilities, the Swivel Surge Protector guards your sensitive computer or home theater equipment from potentially damaging power surges, has integrated cable clips to keep things both safe and organized, and is UL listed in the US and Canada. Looks like someone thought things out! I like it… I like it a lot.

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Clip-Tags Plastic Wire Markers: Snap-On Cable Labels Are Here

April 6, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Cable Identification 

Fact: Cable labeling is a necessary but sadly boring aspect of network management.

Lesser-Known Fact: Cable labeling is a lot more fun when the wire markers remind you of the Spokey-Dokes you used to snap onto your bike wheels back in elementary school.

Oh yeah!

Yes, I went there. I just compared a very interesting new form of wire marker to the ’80s bike accessory that left baskets and handlebar streamers in the dust as they went zooming down the street to the neighbor kid’s house with an unmistakable “slide-clack-slide-clack-slide-clack-slide-clack” and blur of neon colors. Meet the next wave of cable-labeling awesomeness: Clip-Tags Plastic Wire Markers from HellermannTyton®.

Clip-Tags are so simple, yet so functional. They have a tube-shaped design that’s open along one side, so they can be easily slipped onto cables and wires, even if the cables are preterminated with larger connectors, or are already in use and can’t be unplugged to have, say, a heat-shrink sleeve label slipped over the end. That’s the “Spokey-ness” of them – a small, plastic, bead-like object that’s designed to snap around another object in any configuration you choose.

Clip-Tags are available in single digits ranging from 1 to 9, so you’re free to apply multiples in different combinations to create any number or code you need. They’re easy to apply, too – Clip-Tags come packaged on a unique flared applicator that lines up right against the cable you’re labeling so that you can simply slide a number into place, wherever you need it to be. There’s no need to wrestle around with these things – they’re very straightforward.

Another cool feature is that because Clip-Tags are only one digit long and have the ability to move a little bit, they still allow the labeled area of a network cable to flex and bend, unlike other wraparound labels that tend to add a degree of rigidity. So if your cables need a little wiggle room, these are perfect.

Plus, they’re just like Spokeys… did I mention that?

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Manhattan Digital Photo Mouse: Cursor Clicks Meet Vacation Pics

April 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Computer Accessories 

So, you say you wish you could squeeze more family or vacation photos into your workspace, but you hate clutter or just don’t have room to spare for another desktop picture frame? I hear you. Back when my husband and I were dating, he always felt a little slighted because he kept pictures of us around his workstation, but I didn’t.

I felt bad about it and even bought us matching collage photo frames for our desks, but even that never happened because between my keyboard, mousepad, monitor, desk phone, cell phone stand, mug, pen holder, notebooks, Post-It™ pads and stacks of trade magazines on my desk, I wouldn’t have had room to move my computer mouse, much less an elbow, without knocking something over. Where was the Manhattan Digital Photo Mouse when I needed to convince my sweet boyfriend that I wasn’t ashamed to display his face at my office?

It’s the ideal computer peripheral, really – all the power to click away to your heart’s content, combined with a slideshow of your favorite people and memories, all in the palm of your hand. Feeling a little stressed as you hammer away at a presentation that’s due EOD? Just take a few deep breaths as you gaze at your mouse and are whisked away to that beach hammock from last year’s tropical getaway. Frustratedly pondering why you allow yourself to be tethered to a desk for 40-plus hours a week? Glance down at the pictures of your pride and joy (who will be needing braces and private school tuition before you know it) gliding across your mouse, and find a renewed sense of motivation and purpose! (Okay, the second one may be a little far-fetched, but you see where I’m going.)

Long story short, being able to store and view an entire photo album worth of pictures (8MB, to be exact)on your computer mouse is kind of awesome! I used to think that those custom photo mousepads, were a fun idea, but this totally blows those out of the water. Like I said – awesome.

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