It’s always totally killed me that charging cell phones or digital cameras too well can actually cause their batteries to bite the dust faster. Hmmmm, let me get this straight: I regularly plug in my gadget of choice to make sure it maintains a good charge, but if I’m not standing by to unplug the charger as soon as the battery is full, things will actually start to deteriorate? Nice.
As far as I’m concerned, someone should address that little detail before they bother cranking out iPhone™ 17, or the next most amazing thing to hit the tablet market. We need to prioritize here, people – please, please come out with immortal batteries first! I’m probably just dreaming here, but in the meantime, until we see the day when batteries are no longer burnt out on the very thing that keeps them powered, there’s the Belkin Conserve Socket™.
Designed to work much like a smart power strip, the Conserve Socket™ cuts power to devices when they’re no longer in use, or have had their fill of electricity. The only difference is that instead of being a bulky, full-sized power strip, the Conserve Socket™ has only one outlet, and plugs right into a wall receptacle, just like a nightlight. And whereas smart UPSs detect the on/off status of “master” devices to gauge when to automatically shut off peripherals, the Conserve Socket is equipped with a timer, via which you can tell it to call it a day after 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours.
If this sounds like somewhat of a downgrade in technology, it’s actually not. Let’s say that you need to plug in a cell phone charger. In most cases, a smart power strip wouldn’t cut power to it, because it’s not a peripheral attached to a master device. It’s just plugged in, period. It’s the main event itself, so to speak, so turning it on or off requires your own decisive action (ie, plugging in or unplugging). “Turning off” would involve you physically disconnecting the charger in order to cut power flow to it, but the Conserve Socket’s timer lets you stop the electrical flow to the charger (and its corresponding gadget battery) without actual physical removal. As soon as that timer goes off, “ping” – no more power (okay, it doesn’t make that noise, but you know what I mean).
The Conserve Socket™ is not only perfect for avoiding overcharged batteries, but is also a great way to make sure that hot devices and appliances (like irons, curling irons, and coffee makers) aren’t left sitting in “cook” mode for too long – no one likes a fire. It helps you conserve energy, save money, and stay safe – not a bad deal for around $13.
Filed under: Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
Tulips 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.
Filed under: Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
About 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?
When you think about it, iPods® are kind of like our little buddies. They make us happy. They keep us company while we’re working out, chilling out, or stepping out to have some fun. Is there any other companion out there that shows us such a good time, yet requires so little in return? Kind of makes you wish that you treated yours a little better, doesn’t it?
The next time you tote your iPod® to work, instead of just tossing it haphazardly onto your desktop, show it some respect by seating it comfortably in an In-Desk iPod® Dock from Belkin. This compact docking station essentially becomes built into you work surface, because it installs right into a pre-existing, or specially made, 3″ grommet hole (the kind you run cables through). Once it’s in place, the dock sits just about flush with your desk’s surface, so it’s not like you’ll have some weird electronic appendage growing out of your desktop – it’s actually quite polite and unobtrusive.
After the iPod® dock has been installed into the grommet hole, all you need to do is run the included USB cable between your computer and the underside of the dock, and then pop your iPod into its rightful seat of honor. Just don’t forget to glance over and smile at it once in a while.
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.