SpaceGAIN Angled Patch Cords: Don’t Let Tight Spaces Kill Your Bend Radius

spaceGAIN-mainIf it’s common knowledge that a data cable is pretty much no good if you do anything to cramp its bend radius, then why is it that we’re always stuffing patch panels and the cords that connect them into restrictive enclosures? It’s pure logic, right? Lock your server equipment up in a nice, secure cabinet so it can’t get damaged, and then connect everything with patch cables that end up getting so cramped and smooshed in that tight space that they can barely do their job. Come on, people – wake up!

Luckily, the pros at Black Box saw the light before the rest of us, and came up with a brilliant new style of patch cord that lets the connector do the bending instead of the cable. Nice. It’s so crazy that it actually works, and it’s called the SpaceGAIN Angled Patch Cord.

Here’s how it all works. Every data cable has a “bend radius,” or a maximum angle that it’s safe to bend the cable to before it becomes damaged and the signal starts to disintegrate. If you exceed the bend radius, you have trouble on your hands. But here’s the thing: conditions can get really cramped in the back of a server enclosure, and it’s pretty easy to kill a patch cord’s bend radius when you don’t have enough room to plug in.

That’s where the SpaceGAIN angled connector comes in. It safely and efficiently takes care of the bend right off the bat. Need your patch cord to angle up or down at a 90-degree angle? Done. Right or left? No problemo! These low-profile connectors not only make the bend without signal degradation, they also save you up to 4 inches of space, which any other type of patch cord would have eaten up in a traditional bend radius situation.

One of my favorite things about these patch cords is that they’re available in tons of different configurations. Need one with two “up” connectors? They’ve got it. Need one with a “down” connector on one end, and a “straight” (traditional) connector on the other? It’s in the bag. Sigh. I love it when bend radius nightmares have a happy ending.

FlatPlug Low-Profile Extension Cord

flat-plug-app-lgBeing a small house dweller, I’ve found that no matter which room I arrange furniture in, something inevitably ends up pushed against a wall. Not that I wouldn’t love to have stylish little furniture groupings in the middle of the room, it’s just that the rooms I’m currently in possession of don’t have enough “middle” to allow that. So whether we’re talking the bed, dresser, couch or bistro table, they’re all getting pretty cozy with the outer perimeters of the rooms they live in.

While those up close and personal wall/furniture relationships aren’t so much a problem in and of themselves, the fact that there always happens to be a much-needed power outlet right where I need to position the latest IKEA purchase is getting to be a bummer. Sure, you can always leave said piece of furniture a few inches away from the wall, but with use, everything ends up weaseling its way right up to the wall, and I don’t want to have to worry about constantly making sure that plugs aren’t being squashed beyond the point of recognition and safety.

That’s why that FlatPlug® low-profile extension cord is about to make my life so much easier. True to its name, this handy power extension has a truly flat plug that won’t jut out from the wall and start a turf war with your furniture. That means you can arrange a room as you see fit, and still enjoy the modern conveniences of electricity without worrying about starting an electrical fire. Sounds good to me.

Note: This specific product is no longer available, but does carry several other power extension cords.

iPod Stereo Adapter Cable

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Gadgets 

iPod-RCA-cableI have a problem. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big whoop, but nonetheless, it’s kind of annoying. You see, fellow music fans, all the good stuff is on my iPod®. Forget about the 200 or so CDs that used to be the life of my stereo. No, I’ve gone and imported all the good songs off those babies, combined them with a few choice iTunes® downloads of things I didn’t yet own, and now a magically eclectic mix of my faves has become the new standard of listening pleasure. Trouble is, I can only enjoy the soundtrack of my life if I wedge a couple of earbuds in, and I prefer to leave that for the gym or a long flight.

This is probably the part where you’re thinking, “Just buy an iPod dock already, you moron.” And now it’s my turn to reply with 3 of the most stubbornly immature words on the planet: “No. Don’t wanna.” You see, I like my stereo. I don’t want to shell out to replace it with an accessory that can only be used with an iPod. One that may even run the risk of sounding tinny or otherwise too small. And so I’ve painted myself into that gym-and-airplane-only corner, just waiting for something better to come along.

Well, it appears that that something has just hit the scene, thanks to the people who understand at Cables to Go®. They’ve created an iPod-to-stereo RCA adapter cable that lets you hook up your favorite Apple companion not only to stereos, but to TVs and home theater receivers as well. iTunes on Surround Sound® – sweet! My favorite part is that the dock connector synchronizes the audio settings of your iPod and whatever other device it’s attached to, so you can raise and lower the music with the stereo or TV’s volume controls.

Sorry, this item has been discontinued.

Mohawk Spectrum Low Skew Video Cable

March 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Home Theater 

mohawk-spectrum-cableI thought that my video-related posts were going to top out at 2 for this week, but strangely enough, I’m sneaking in a third. We’ve talked sleeving and mini projectors, but this time, we’re taking on cable. Even if you’re not an A/V installer, you probably know that video of any kind, whether it deals with cable TV or closed-circuit security monitors, has traditionally meant coaxial cable. You know, the round stuff with the funny pin-style connectors on the ends. It’s good cable and we’ve all used it, but cost-wise, coax has never been as cheap as twisted-pair Cat data cable, and while it’s pretty easy to terminate, it calls for special compression connectors and crimpers. Sigh. If only installing coax was as simple as using an RJ45 connector and regular punchdown tool on network cables, it might be a little easier for data installers and DIYers to run their own video, as well.

As it turns out, it is that easy, and coax no longer has to be a piece of the video puzzle. Mohawk has developed the very unique Spectrum™ low-skew, twisted-pair video cable, which has all the physical characteristics of Cat cable, but transmits video signals instead of data. That means that running video in your home is as easy as making your own network cables, using the same old RJ45 connectors and everything.

If that weren’t reason enough to smile, what would you say to cable runs up to 2000 feet long, without signal degradation? Or the fact that this stuff is a lot thinner than coaxial or RGB, so you can fit more runs in the same amount of space? Not to mention it costs less, too.

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Coleman Polar/Solar Coiled Extension Cords

coiled-extension-cordIn my book, it can’t get much better than fun stuff that’s actually useful, too. Take, for example, the Coilex™ Polar/Solar® coiled extension cord from Coleman Cable. Part Slinky, part power extension, and totally sweet. Actually, it looks a lot like spiral-wound cord that used to hang from your old kitchen phone, except that it does more than give you something to twirl your fingers through while you gossip about the shenanigans that went down in Study Hall. This thing is good. As a matter of fact, it just might be the world’s most space-efficient extension cord yet.

As anyone with curly hair knows, when things are coiled up, there can be a lot more there than meets the eye. Pull on the end of a two-inch long curly lock, and it suddenly turns to six inches. That’s the power of the spiral. Luckily, someone got the bright idea to apply the same concept to extension cords, so now, instead of tripping through foot-grabbing piles of extension cord slack, you can just, well… get down to business. Polar/Solar® coiled cables stretch to exactly the length you need, and no further, so you won’t have the extra cable cluttering up your floor or workbench. Ahhhhh… it’s always nice to be able to tackle a project without constantly batting power cords out of the way.

Unlike the Slinky, phone cord and curly hair that I mentioned before, the Polar/Solar® extension cord is designed to never tangle or bend – a feature that protects the inner electrical conductor to preserve the cord’s integrity. And it’s tough, too - the outer jacket is resistant to flame, water, oil and abrasion, so this is one item that you won’t have to baby.

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TeleAdapt Wired Connectivity Pull-Through Hubs

teleadaptGenerally speaking, I’d rather be at my place than staying in a hotel, but here and there I’ve found a few “hotel-only” features that I’ve wished I could have taken home with me. Minibars, for instance. Who wouldn’t want an ever-stocked stash of soda and macadamia nuts right in their very own bedroom? Then again, that would just make one chubby, and a girl prefers to stay in single-digit clothing sizes. And then there’s the coveted glass and travertine shower with rainfall showerhead… but that’s a little out of my bank account’s league right now. So where does that leave me?

At the desk, of course. Well, not the actual desk itself, but the sleek little disk-shaped cable holder stuck to the top of it. You know, the thing that holds onto the built-in Ethernet cord, so everything’s ready to plug in as soon as you whip out your laptop. Unlike at home, at hotels, you never have to crawl under the desk to find the cable. It’s an altogether winning concept. Now, I have far too much of a conscience (or guilt complex?) to make off with lodging-establishment property, but unlike the shower and minibar, those nifty cable-holding hubs are both readily available and in compliance with my ordinary-person budget.

Before I go any further, I should probably tell you exactly what they’re called: TeleAdapt Wired Connectivity Pull-Through Hubs. And they’re the exact same thing that you find at hotels and resorts – right down to the desk card that holds your choice of instructions or messages. If you’re going to use it at home or at work, you could always stick a motivational quote or something funny into the card holder, but if that’s not your thing, you can just remove it completely.

The TeleAdapt hub has a weighted base and a suction cup to keep it in place, and here’s the really cool thing – it isn’t just for Ethernet cords! There are 3 types of pull-thoughs, one each for Internet, Audio, and A/V connections – and each one includes a cable for its respective application. But if you already have all the cables you need, just go with the Cablesitter, a non-wired model that can be used with any cord you have.

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Pink Products for Breast Cancer Awareness

cable-turtle-pinkNo matter who you are, where you live, or how big or small your circle of family and friends is, chances are very good that you know someone whose life has been changed because of breast cancer. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one to it. Maybe you’ve watched someone close to you battle though it and emerge a survivor. Maybe you’re living with it yourself. But one thing’s for sure – once you have a brush with the disease, you never forget it.

Since yesterday, October 1st, you’ve probably begun seeing a lot pink ribbons and references to Breast Cancer online and in the media. That’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this year, 2009, has decided to jump in and do something to support this admirable, and universal, cause.

And so, today, I’m not going to focus on one cool product, but 9 very worthwhile ones that are not only fun and useful, but whose purchase goes toward supporting breast cancer research, as well as meeting the needs of women who are fighting the disease. If you or someone you know is a fan of the color pink, please visit our Breast Cancer Pink Page, which is full of rosy-hued products that have been chosen to help raise funds in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From now through October 31, 2009, we’re donating $1 from each purchase of these products to The Donna Foundation, a Florida-based non-profit organization dedicated to furthering breast cancer research and providing assistance to breast cancer patients.

So if you’re already looking into accessorizing your iPod or organizing some cables around the house, please be sure to check out the items on our Pink Page first – by purchasing one of these products, you’ll not only be getting something you need, but will also be helping to prevent and cure breast cancer in the process.

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Vanco HDMI™ Extender Over Cat5e Cable

August 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Home Theater 

hdmi-over-cat5e-extenderSo, you want to stretch the distance between your HDTV and a high-def source (like an HD-DVD player, Blu-Ray, or PS3 gaming console), but shudder to think of the search for, and cost of, a 100+ foot long HDMI cable? I feel your pain, but don’t worry – you won’t be in it long. Your worries, and HDMI-related budget woes, are about to melt away – at least they will as soon as you meet this Cat5e HDMI Extender from Vanco.

As you can probably tell from its name, this particular HDMI extender uses Cat5e cables (delightfully inexpensive Cat5e cables) to carry your HDMI signals from Point A to Point B. By now you’re probably wondering, “How the heck do you get a decent high-def digital signal over a type of cable that’s usually used for Ethernet connections?” Easy – it’s all in the transmitter and receiver.

While it’s called an extender, it’s actually made up of two separate components – the above-mentioned transmitter and receiver. Using 2 short HDMI cables, the transmitter is connected to the high-definition source, and the receiver is connected to the display. From there, you just need to run 2 Cat5e cables between the transmitter and receiver. The transmitter starts out by translating the HDMI signal into the proper format for Cat5e. The modified signal then travels down the Cat5e cables to the receiver, where it’s translated back into HDMI format, and fed through to the display. And there you have it, ladies and gents – long distance HDMI.

The Vanco HDMI Over Cat5e extender works for distances up to 200 feet, and the resolution can vary depending on how far you’re sending the signal. Up to 100 feet, and the final resolution delivered is 1080p; for 100-165 feet, you get 1080i. When you push it anywhere from 165-200 feet, the resolution drops to 720p, but that’s still high-def! The extender system also reduces annoying EMI and RFI, so you’ll get the clearest audio and video possible.

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GoldX USB QuickConnect™ 12-in-1 Camera Kit

August 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Gadgets 

12-in-one-package-smJust imagine getting home from an incredible vacation with tons of picture taking. You’ve opened a few windows to get some fresh air into your closed-up house, dumped the contents of your suitcase into the washer, and taken a quick shower to get rid of all that travel grime. What’s next? Transferring all of those gorgeous photos to your computer, of course. Now where is that USB cable?……

If you’ve ever had to cope with your pictures being “trapped” inside your digital camera because you lost the USB cable that came with it, then you’re really going to be crazy about the USB QuickConnect™ 12-in-1 Camera Kit from GoldX. This combo kit comes with a USB cable and 12 interchangeable connectors, so no matter what USB format your camera uses, you can custom-create a cable to hook it up to your PC or laptop.

All 12 connectors have gold-plated contacts for great signal transmission, and the cable itself is shielded to block out EMI and RFI noise that can interfere with data transfer. The kit is compatible with cameras by Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Sharp, Kodak, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Toshiba, Konica, and Minolta (just to name a few), as well as some mobile phones and PDAs. And when you’re not using the cable and connectors, they all tuck neatly inside the included storage case so that nothing gets lost.

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Power Strip Liberator

power-strip-liberator-closeup-sThe Power Strip Liberator. While that may sound like an awfully highfalutin name for something that’s basically the world’s shortest extension cord, this product has, despite its simplicity, earned its bragging rights and grand title. The Power Strip Liberator was a product that I heard mentioned pretty regularly during my early days at CableOrganizer (it’s a big seller), but back then, I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. But it turns out that this insignificant-looking little cord is actually quite handy to have around, especially if you’re in the habit of plugging big connectors into power strips.

With the way that most power strips are laid out, you only have a limited amount of space allotted for each plug. Try to plug in a chunky adapter, and chances are, there will be some overflow that starts moving in on the neighboring outlets, making them completely unusable. Way to waste  perfectly good outlets.

If you’re ever going to get the most out of the outlets you have, something has to come between your extra-large plugs and power strip. That something, friends, is the Power Strip Liberator. When it’s time to plug in a space-hogging adapter, just reach for a liberator, plug the adapter into it, and plug the other end of the liberator into a power strip. And there you go. Your device is powered, and you haven’t even wasted space on your power strip. That might just leave you with enough room to plug in another gadget or two.

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