Review – USB Power Outlet
It seems like every electronic device that you get these days is supposed to be charged via USB. Most of them come with USB/AC adapters, but these can take up a lot of wall outlet and power bar space. This is where NewerTech comes in with their Power2U wall outlet that features 2 USB ports in addition to the usual pair of AC outlets. We were able to put a black unit through its paces recently, so is the Power2U the revolutionary space-saver it sets out to be or should it be charged with inadequacy? Read on to see what kind of electrifying experience we had with the Power2U.
While it's a bummer to start with, I have to lead with a warning that the Power2U has a lot of junk in its trunk, so you need to be absolutely certain that you have roomy 16 cubic inch electrical outlet boxes in your home/office/etc. before rushing out to order some. Older homes, trailers, bungalows and the like may very well not have enough room for the extra back bits on the Power2U — it took us a good long while before we were able to find a friend of Game Usagi with a house new enough to have these roomier electrical boxes.
With that said, the Power2U ended up being a fairly impressive product once we found a place for it. With the choice of four colours, there should be one suitable for colour-coordinated placement in most homes. We chose black so that it could be easily differentiated from the standard USB-free white outlets we had about the place and it looked super-slick once it was installed.
Installation, incidentally, is a breeze with the Power2U. We had an electrically-inclined friend install it for us, but when we saw how easy it was to install we could have probably done it ourselves. Instead of requiring the wires to be shoved into random places like the outlet it was replacing, the Power2U just has four screws on the side to tighten around the cables making it more or less idiot proof (as long as you remember to turn off the power breaker for the outlet before installing, derp).
The USB ports on the Power2U have spring-loaded shutters on them to apparently turn off the ports when they're not in use. The fact that they automatically close means that you can't just blindly thrust your USB cable into the port as you would with a computer or AC adapter. While it felt a little inconvenient at first, we found that if you use the USB plug itself to open the shutter while you're inserting it you're able to avoid any fingernail fumbling or having the port closing in the process. It's also probably a lot more safe and environmentally friendly to have the ports shut off when they're not in use anyways.
The iPods, iPhones, iPads, Android phones, portable speakers, PS3/360 controllers, and bluetooth headsets that we tried charging with the built-in USB ports all charged at least as quickly as with their AC adapters and didn't interfere with plugging other things in to the proper AC outlets. Even though we couldn't install one in our office, the Game Usagi friends who are still using the Power2U love it and say that it saves them from having to search for adapters or unplug their coffee machine when they want to charge their phones at night.
Overall, if you have the spare outlet box room for a Power2U it's hard not to recommend it for easily and unobtrusively charging your USB devices. The Power2U retails for $24.99 US, but can be had for as little as $11.50 depending upon where you shop online. We give this product a: