Newer Technology Power2U AC 20A Outlet Hardware Review

Newer Technology Power2U AC 20A Outlet Hardware Review

Apr 30, 2015

I have a problem.

Come to my house, and you can see the manifestation. It isn’t always my fault. Blame the device makers for sending devices to review. Or my need to tinker with retro devices (trying to get my T5 to tether to an M8 is a worthy endeavor); Probably has at least a little bit to do with the fact that full-powered devices give me a high. In any case, when it’s all said and done, one issue inevitably arises.

So many devices, so little time.

Yes, this is an issue that is self-inflicted, but can you blame me?

We generally don’t review stuff like the Power2U combo electrical receptacle, but the simple utility is intriguing, and well needed, at least in theory. Basically, is replaces a standard dual NEMA-1 receptacle with a version that includes 2 USB slots, such that one can double up on the units drawing power from the replaced outlet.

Now, installing it involves cracking out screwdrivers and such, removing the current receptacle and then wiring everything right, and patching it all up. It was fairly easy, and the included documentation is helpful. When it’s all done, it does fit well, and the white coloring was generic enough to make it look natural.


The big difference between it and other standard ones are the aforementioned USB slots; there are two, one on each side equidistant from the “real” power holes. Each one has a spring door, such that the USB ports are always covered and camouflaged when not in use. The spring back mechanism is not so hard that it damages one’s cable.

In the end, it’s just what the doctor ordered, perfect as the lead outlet at our de facto charging station, and eliminates the need for extension strips. I like the 2.1A output, and also like the advertised device protection and elimination of vampire draw. Yes, it is close to a permanent change, and some might be more comfortable calling in an electrician, but as far as upgrades go, it isn’t bad.

And think of all those happy devices…

BÄ“m Wireless Outlet Speaker Hardware Review

BÄ“m Wireless Outlet Speaker Hardware Review

May 14, 2014

Bluetooth is Mr. Old Reliable. It’s about 20 years old, which is about three lifetimes in human years, and it just keeps on getting better and remains one of the most functional mobile standards out there. Headphones, speakers, file transfer… even close-quarter communications. The biggest restriction, really, is proximity.

When it comes to audio equipment, it is a great complement. It makes great equipment that more mobile. Wireless speakers are far from a novelty, but new Bluetooth specifications make such even better proposition. Even with low energy developments, the charge-recharge cycle can be tedious at times. That’s why a device like the bÄ“m Wireless Outlet Speaker is so timely.

The review device we received was the black model (it also comes in white); it weighs less than a pound and has dimensions of 7.5 x 2.5 x 6 inches. In reality, it weighs less than one might expect, and is mostly comprised of bem2hard plastic on the exterior. Towards the top is the foldable two-pin plugin piece, and at the bottom are in and out auxiliary ports that sandwich a USB point that can be used to charge smart devices. At the very top is the on/pair button. Also in the box are m2m 3.55 mm cable and documentation.

Pairing is easy; long-pressing the ON button and finding it on a Bluetooth source takes seconds. The output is pretty clear, though I did feel like there is some echoing. The sound quality is quite equitable overall, and I did like the projection. I was able to pipe music to and from it via cable as well.

It’s biggest plus probably also is the source of its biggest potential drawback. The ability to be connected translates to a need to be connected, which means that the experience is defined by where outlets are located. Also, while it has wired functionality, this is also somewhat hamstrung by the need to stay tethered to a wall.

The Wireless Outlet Speaker isn’t exactly new to the market, but it’s hard to argue against its overall value. It is defined by its dual nature: it can be semi-permanent and yet so portable, and even retains wired functionality. For folks who don’t want to mess with charging cables, it just might be a godsend.

The Wireless Outlet Speaker is available on Amazon for $73.00.

KickStarter Spotlight: Elphi

KickStarter Spotlight: Elphi

Jun 13, 2012

It is probably everyone’s dream to have that ultra-modern, connected smart-house whose lights and appliances can all be monitored remotely and automatically. Bill Gates has one, so how hard can it be, right? Well unfortunately, this dream is simply that, a dream, for the rest of us. But now, thanks to Cameron Colpitts and his ingenious KickStarter project, we all can take just one small step closer to home nirvana. The project is called Elphi and offers a simple, and hopefully, inexpensive to automate any home. Elphi is a candybar-sized device that connects to any home wifi network and, after a quick sync with a smartphone, is completely controllable from anywhere that user has internet access, be it 3G or WiFi.

Elphi’s KickStarter page presents a few very logical uses for the device and while most of them can be done by other products, none offer the flexibility of Elphi. It also can track usage of the appliance plugged into the outlet which can be useful, but more importantly, Elphi can be used to monitor elderly loved ones or latchkey children. By remotely checking usage of that outlet wherever and whenever it is easy to determine weather there is activity in the house even at work. Another function that Elphi includes is the opportunity to put home electronics on a timer, say make the lights in the bedroom come on when it’s time to wake up, or turn the coffee pot on so it is ready for breakfast. Also, because it is able to be used anywhere, turning off electronics that were mistakenly left on is as simple as opening the app.

There is an option to share access to individual outlets with friends but I have a hard time seeing how this feature will be especially useful, but the option to do so if one was so inclined is nice. There has been no word on pricing, but one is included with a donation of $69 or more so look for them to be around that price point. With 16 days to go and somewhere around $79,000 left to raise, it is up to the internet to really bring this incredibly flexible and convenient product to the masses.