Hug-a-Plug Outlet Adapter

hug-a-plugEver wonder why power outlets often seem to be located in areas that are natural spots for sofas, bookcases, and even beds? That drives me crazy, considering that you either have to rearrange your room plan so that outlets are accessible (no way), or put your furniture where you darn well want it and lose the use of several much-needed receptacles. It’s easy enough to say that you’ll just compromise by plugging into the outlets and then pushing your furniture in front of them, but in reality, that often isn’t a safe thing to do.

For instance, let’s take the old “sofa in front of the outlet” scenario. It’s not really a problem if you can place the couch 5 or 6 inches away from the wall and know that it will stay there, but let’s face it: that’s not likely to happen. I don’t know about your seating habits, but at my house, it’s pretty rare for anyone to gently lower themselves onto the cushions and remain daintily perched along the forward edge of the sofa. No, we’re more for the end-of-day flopdown to catch a nice, relaxing episode of The Barefoot Contessa. This generally entails a high-impact landing that results in said flopper coming squarely to rest against the sofa’s back cushions. A few of these maneuvers always result in the sofa, which was hereto prudently positioned away from the wall and electrical outlets, making full contact and potentially crushing the power cords and plugs that are unfortunate enough to be behind it.

I do enough research on electrical safety to have a healthy paranoia about shock and electrical fire, especially as they relate to damaged cords. Suffice it to say that a crushed cable can be a bad, bad thing. So I never feel good about plugging in behind furniture, and, to be honest, go to great lengths to avoid doing that. But I just found out a very cool (and cheap – yay!) product that will let you have your furniture and your electricity, too: the Hug-a-Plug adapter.

The Hug-a-Plug plugs into any standard household power outlet to give you 2 outlets that are set at 90-degree angles to the wall. That means that you can plug in behind furniture far more safely, because plugs and cables don’t come jutting straight out from the wall, but instead lay against it. Your furniture can now get cozy with your walls again.

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Belkin Travel Power Adapter

belkin-travel-power-adapterTulips have sprung, temperatures are rising, and as Summer fast approaches, visions of Historic Route 66 are beginning to dance through the imaginations of red-blooded Americans from sea to shining sea. Who can’t picture themselves behind the wheel of that classic Hollywood road trip shot, the one that looks westward down a two-lane highway that’s empty except for a single top-down convertible winding its way toward a couple of cowboy-movie buttes in the not-too-far-off distance?

Ahhhhh, I can feel the wind undoing the affects of my mega-hold styling products just thinking about it. Road trips aren’t just great for a little nostalgia – they’re also the perfect way to squeeze a little freedom and vacation time out of Summer 2010, even though cash is still tight for many of us. There’s just one little difference between road trips Then and Now: technology. Whereas payphones and postcards were the chief means of communication back in the heyday of ’57 Chevys and themed motor lodges, in this age of Priuses and Hilton HHonors® rewards, we can’t live without cell phones and laptops.

One little problem there: said gadgets require electricity to keep their batteries charged and ready to serve us. And as most of you have probably discovered the hard way at one time or another, electricity is most readily available from wall outlets, of which there is a distinct shortage in automobiles. Sure, some of us have the cigarette-lighter chargers for our cell phones, but car-charging can get pretty tricky for items like laptops and iPods®. How’s a recreational road warrior supposed to cope?

Allow me to recommend the Travel Power Adapter by Belkin. This compact little set is made up of a power adapter that can be customized (via an assortment of included tips) to charge all of your must-have gadgets straight from the 12-volt DC port in your vehicle. This thing can even handle USB-driven electronics like iPods®. Just plug the adapter into your DC port, customize its charger cord with the tip that matches the gadget in need of juice, and you’re set.

What I love is that the travel adapter isn’t limited to use in your car. If you need to charge things overnight in your hotel room, you can just switch out the DC plug for the included AC adapter, and just plug into the wall. Now that’s a travel buddy.

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GoBe Portable Solar Power System

gobe-solar-powerI enjoy nature and a nice hike as much as the next person, but when it comes to taking a load off and getting a good night’s snooze after all that fresh air, I’ve always balked at roughing it in a tent – I prefer to “hotel it.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m not the kind of girl who needs a 5-star resort with full spa services or anything like that. I just like things like electricity, indoor plumbing, clean sheets and a locking door – you know, the kind of things that make one comfortable. Call me crazy, but rocks jutting through the ground tarp and sleeping bag aren’t exactly my idea of lumbar support.

I have to say, though: with regard to the electricity aspect, all of the solar products hitting the market are beginning to make the prospect of bunking in the wilderness a little more palatable. First came solar chargers, which have made it possible to keep your cell phone or iPod juiced up even if you’re miles from the nearest power outlet. But now, things are getting even better, thanks to the GoBe™ solar power system, a portable power source that absorbs sunlight and turns it into enough electricity to power the really good stuff like laptops, electric fans, lights, and maybe even your Magic Bullet blender (margarita or fresh salsa, anyone?).

The GoBe™ system is made up of a briefcase (the solar panel unit) and a hub (the battery that you actually plug into). The briefcase soaks up sunlight, converts it into energy, and then sends it via cable to the hub for storage. When you need power, you just plug into the hub, and run your devices/appliances directly from that. Too easy.

One thing that I really like about the GoBe™ solar power system is that even though it’s primarily a green product, it’s not limited to relying on the Sun for a proper charge. Say that you’re going camping, or soon to be hit by a hurricane that will probably knock out your utilities. If you want to quickly charge the hub to capacity but don’t want to wait on the Sun, you can always plug it into a wall outlet instead. A little versatility is always a good thing…

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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MHO Conference Table Grommet

mho-grommet_installedThese days, it’s pretty common to see grommets built into peoples’ desktops, so that they can run phone and computer cables through their work surfaces instead of across them. But what about conference tables? It’s 2010, and just about every conference room out there is wired to the hilt, so that their occupants can run everything from laptops and projectors to phone lines and A/V equipment. All of the cables associated with those electronics can make for a major mess come presentation time, so that begs the question: why don’t conference tables get grommets, too?

As it turns out, they do, and you’ll be happy to know that they’re not the standard-issue round plastic ones that you usually see in desks. You have to step it up a notch for a conference room, right? You bring visitors in there! But I digress. I’ll just tell you about the MHO® conference table grommet.

Conference tables are bigger than desks, so it just goes to reason that grommets made for them should be a little more substantial, right? The MHO® grommet is rectangular in shape, and distinctly bigger in size, measuring approximately 8″x4″. It’s also refreshingly free of flat black plastic, instead made out of very sleek and modern-looking anodized aluminum. The MHO® further differs from your run-of-the-mill grommet in that it doesn’t spend all it’s time as a gaping hole in your tabletop – it actually has a flip-open lid that closes flush with your table when not in use, so you have the benefit of a solid, flat, continuous workspace.

But the really great thing about the MHO® grommet is that it matches the extremely popular MHO® desktop power and data center. If you’ve already installed an MHO® power/data unit, you can still opt for a grommet, too, without worrying about what your conference table will look like with an unharmonious mix of extras installed – everything will look clean and uniform.

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Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger

mini-surge-protector-usbAbout three Christmases ago, I thought it would be a great idea to surprise my then-boyfriend (now husband) with an iPod. He’s never been much of a gadget guy, but was dying for some portable tunes to work out to, so I took that tidbit of information, combined it with the fact that I was strapped for cash, and settled on a nice, shiny 2nd generation Shuffle (I am not a cheapskate, people – keep in mind that this was back in the day when those babies were still $100 a pop).

But once I actually had the tiny piece of electronic wonderment in hand, I thought: “Hmmmmm, this is kind of small – maybe I should find him a few accessories for it.” So, I started mulling over everything from interchangeable iPod skins to iTunes cards. Then I saw it: a special dock that he could plug right into a wall outlet, for those times when the old Shuffle just needed a charge, and not a complete sync. After all, who wants to leave their computer grinding away for hours at a time just to charge a dinky (albeit cool) MP3 player?

My enthusiasm, however, came to a screeching halt when I saw that the stupid thing cost (if I remember correctly) upwards of 30 bucks. Are you kidding me??????????? So I settled for some assorted-color silicone iPod covers from my favorite bargain cool-stuff website, and called it a day. My man would just have to stick with computer-based USB charging for the time being.

Fast-forward 3 years. My husband and I are still charging both of our Shuffles (it turns out that he had the exact same gift idea for me that Christmas) from a laptop, and I’ve more or less forgotten about the wall outlet charger… until the other day, when I met a certain mini surge protector by Belkin, which happens to have two USB charging ports built right in. That’s what I’m talking about!

I’ve seen enough portable surge protectors in recent years that they really don’t catch my eye anymore, but those 2 little USB ports came pretty close to making my eyes bug out. The Belkin mini surge protector with USB charger plugs directly into a wall receptacle, and gives you 3 surge-protected outlets for laptops and the like, as well as 2 (also surge-protected) USB ports for charging iPods and other USB driven devices. All that, and it’s only half the price of that original Shuffle A/C wall adapter I saw a few years ago. Guess who’s getting one this Christmas?

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Ellora In-Desk Power and Data Center

byrne-elloraYou might not think that a box full of power and data outlets embedded into your desktop would be too hot, but let me tell you, they’re getting better-looking all the time. I’ve always thought that the idea of having plug-in points built right into a desk would be super convenient, but a lot of the power/data centers out there just look so… techy. Like whoever designed them was thinking waaaaaaaay more about function than form. Utilitarian, shall we say? But lately, I’ve been seeing some newer models coming out that are definitely going in a more eye-candyish direction, for those of us who don’t like to sacrifice style and decor for electronics. Case in point: the Ellora™ Power and Data Center.

This sleek little beauty has clean lines, a satiny aluminum finish, and mounts more or less dead-flush into your worksurface, so visually speaking, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. Flip the lid open, and you’ll find a neat row of the outlets and ports of your choice: power, data (internet), USB… you can even order one that has an iPod dock in the mix. Nice. It’s work and listening pleasure, all rolled into one and stashed just below the surface of your desk. Sneaky, efficient, aesthetically pleasing – what more could you want?

Lest you walk away from this blog post thinking that the only reason to buy an in-desk PDU is so you don’t have to crawl under your desk to plug in, let me just say: “but that’s not all!” One of my favorite features is that the Ellora™ totally gets rid of cord clutter on and behind your desk, so you don’t have to look at or get tangled up in computer cables. Even better.

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Surge2Go Portable Power Strip

EZ-Gear_Surge2Go-ProtectorPlugging your laptop in at home or the office is usually a no-brainer, because those are the two places that we’re pretty much guaranteed to have decent surge protectors lying around (Right, people? Please tell me that you’re protecting your electronics!). But on the other hand, what do you do when you’re traveling with a laptop?

As far I can can tell you, no one I know (including myself) has, up to now, been known to pack a nice surge protector for the road. And it’s easy to understand why – most of them aren’t designed with portablity in mind. There’s either the heavy duty brick-style battery backups that lurk under our desks (and we all know that anything brick-like doesn’t pack well), or the power strip variety, which don’t take up much space, per se, but still have those unwieldy, hard-to-coil-into-any-configuration power cords trailing off their ends.

So what’s a techy jet-setter to do? I’ll tell you this much: they (or you – or even me, for that matter) shouldn’t be putting their expensive electronic lifelines at the mercy of strange, unprotected power outlets. Just because you’re visiting a sweet place, that doesn’t mean that a power surge won’t strike. You have to be ready, no matter how deluxe the surroundings. That’s why EZ Gear created the Surge2Go™, a super compact, travel-friendly surge protector that is positively made for purses, computer bags, backpacks, and suitcases. At only a little over 5x2x3 inches in size, it’s pretty darned mini, and here’s something else cool: the cord is only 8 inches long, and is actually made to coil around the surge protector’s outer perimeter for storage – no cable clutter!

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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Remote Controlled Power Outlets

remote-controlled-power-outlet-mainToday’s main event is sure to be a Favorite Gadget shoo-in for anyone who wants to save energy, walk into a lit house, or would just rather not get off the couch to turn off the outside lights. So, whether you’re environmentally-conscious, safety-minded, or just plain lazy (and who among us isn’t), this one’s for you.

Now, I’m the type of person who doesn’t exactly enjoy stepping into a pitch-black house. I’ll sometimes leave a lamp on just in case, but then I usually end up feeling guilty about burning up lightbulbs and electricity when I’m not even around to benefit from it. What’s an on-the-move girl to do? First thing: stop being wasteful, and secondly, spend around 12 bucks and plug an entryway lamp into a Remote-Controlled Power Outlet.

Why would someone want a remote-controlled outlet? Well, mainly because it comes with a remote, but otherwise, because it lets you turn whatever’s plugged into it On and Off from up to 40 feet away. Just aim and push the button. Move over, The Clapper!

In my opinion, one of the best features of this handy little outlet/remote duo is that it has the ability to work through doors, walls and ceilings/floors, so a little structural obstruction won’t get in the way of accomplishing lights out. This makes it great for dark-house scaredy cats like me, because you can technically keep the remote control in your car, and use it to turn on a lamp just inside the front door, provided that it’s within 40 feet. No more cringing in the dark while groping around for invisible light switches.

In addition to letting you operate electronic devices via remote control, this outlet also gives you the Power of Auto-Off. Granted, it’s not exactly the same as having the ability to set a timer to an exact hour and minute, but it is nice to know that you can set the outlet to turn something off after 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours if you need to.

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BlueLounge® CableBox® at

cablebox-blackBlueLounge® Designs has done it again. They can’t stop making cool products for me to yakk on about. First there was the Sanctuary charging station, and then came the Space Station laptop dock. Finally, this morning, I met the newest addition – the CableBox. But I’m not talking about the the box from your cable company that sends signal to your TV. If you’ve ever read or watched anything Harry Potter, then you’re probably well acquainted with the Cloak of Invisibility – wrap yourself in it, and you’re gone. Well, the CableBox is like an Invisibility Cloak for power strips, and it works almost as fast. You want one already, don’t you?

Design-wise, it’s almost ridiculously simple – in a good way. It’s a sleek, rounded-corner box with cable slots in each end, and a lid that fits on top. Operation is equally simple: you just pick up your standard-size power strip, plugs and all, and drop it into the CableBox. Attached cables can be routed out of the box via one or both slots, and then you just pop the lid on. Power strip? What power strip?

The CableBox is available in black or white, but either color can be repainted to match your walls or floor if you’re looking to achieve an even higher level of power strip stealth. And what’s really nice is that the CableBox has low-profile rubberized feet (pads, really) attached to the bottom, so whether you park it on the floor or along the back of an entertainment center, it won’t slide around on you.cablebox-before-after                                                         View the Product Page

GenZ Eco Power Charging Station

eco-charging-stationCharging stations are all kinds of hot right now, and it feels like I blog about them an awful lot. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon, because there’s yet another new one to tell you about. And so, fans of organized charging, meet the GenZ Eco Power Charging Station.

I don’t want to tell you who should like this right off the bat, but I will say that the GenZ Eco has a totally different look than a lot of the other charging stations I’ve written about. Being a girl who likes attractive home and office accessories, to this point I’ve gravitated toward the leather-look and super mod styles, but something tells me that this particular one is going to appeal more to guys – especially ones who are really into gadgets. It’s black, it looks a little like a closed laptop, and it’s overall cool. But take a look at the picture – you’ll see what I mean about it having a techier appeal.

Anyway… in addition to its unique style, the Eco Power Charging Station has a few other really neat features, the first of which is that it has charger connectors already built in. This is really pretty sweet, because it means that you can toss all of those individual charger cords, or at least stash them away until you need to travel. The 13 built-in connections are compatible with thousands of devices, so unless you’re trying to charge a gadget that’s really old or rare, you’re covered.

And now for the “eco” part. Cell phone chargers are notorious “vampire electronics,” because they keep drawing small amounts of power as long as they’re plugged in, whether or not they’re actively charging. And to add insult to injury, when you leave your devices plugged in after they’re fully rejuiced, their batteries actually wear out faster. Hmmmphhh – you can’t win, right? Actually, you can, because the GenZ Eco charger is able to sense when a gadget is fully powered, and as soon as it gets that message, it automatically cuts the flow of electricity to that device. No unnecessary battery wear, no go-nowhere power being wasted, just exactly what you need – nothing more, nothing less.

And did I mention that it can handle several gadgets at once?

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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