I hope you're in the mood for a short review today. The folks at Other World Computing have sent us a device that falls into the "gizmo's" category. It's a device that is meant only to make life of constantly recharging devices a bit more convenient. The Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet is a simple what-you-see-is-what-you-get proposition. While USB ports are ubiquitous on the front and back of PCs these days, and some motherboard manufacturers feature USB ports that can supply triple the current for faster charging, it turns out that some folks actually turn their PC off at night or when it's not being used... odd, I know. The Power2U USB Wall Outlet can be installed wherever you and your family's rechargeable devices tend to congregate around your abode. Not much to it, but here's a quick look at what you get.
The packaging for the Power2U is a simple three-color affair in the usual want-to-pull-your-hair-out-trying-to-get-it-open bubble packaging. The front lists four functionality features to look forward to. This includes that it is UL listed, it eliminates bulky adapters, it uses Newer Technology's "Smart Power" feature, and it installs into most standard 15A wall outlets.
The back of the retail packaging tells us that the Power2U Wall Outlet is compatible with all USB devices that are from the 1.1 generation up through the latest USB 3.0 incarnation. We also learn that the doors covering the two USB charging outlets are spring loaded and when closed and not in use will shut power off, thereby eliminating any "vampire draw" when you are not using them. The unit is a standard DC 5.2V, 200mA (10W) charger. These are the same charging specifications you will find as a standard USB port on your PC, excluding the USB '3x power' that are found as a feature on many motherboards these days.
The Power2U USB Wall Outlet is designed to be an easy DIY product that anyone can install themselves. Upon wrestling the unit out of its plastic bubble you find a very nice set of comprehensive instructions to guide you through the installation of the unit. I installed the Power2U in a couple places in my home, different areas of which were wired or upgraded at different times, and it appeared that most any installation situation is covered in the illustrated instructions.
Having a look at the unit out of the packaging, it seems to be of very high quality. The plastic has a very nice finish to it, and the face plate comes with nicely fitted plugs to cover the two screws that hold the faceplate on. As far as installation, all that is needed is a standard and Phillips screwdriver and possibly a wire stripper (what do you think of my wife's set of hot pink Snap-On drivers?).
Installation with the outlet is simple and painless. One thing to keep in mind is that the Power2U requires a receptacle box that is 16 cubic inches or larger. This covers the vast majority of modern duplexes. However, in some older homes you may come across a few that are too small or a tight fit. The Newer Technology website has a non-exhaustive list of receptacle boxes that are compatible with the Power2U USB outlet. As an installation note, if you are going to install or replace outlets DIY style, then a neon tester, voltmeter, or a tick-tracer are a good investment. While installing the Power2U I found out that I had a circuit that was not shut off by the main breaker for some reason. Needless to say, thinking a circuit is not live can lead to a dangerous and unpleasant experience.
Well there you have it — a simple device to make your life a bit more convenient at home with all the battery-powered contraptions we live with. Newer Technology offers the Power2U in four different colors, it's efficient, and it can be installed in 20 minutes. I guess the only question left is the one about your PC having ubiquitous, unoccupied USB ports, and some of them allowing three times the power draw of the standard 5.2V port and the Power2U. Two things come to mind. I noticed Newer Technology sells this product in 2,10,20, and 100 unit packs, So I can see the Power2U lining the wainscot of conference rooms. Secondly, I am occasionally reminded that some folks actually shut their PCs off at night. So how does it charge? Well I ran my wife's phone to shutdown twice. I charged it once with a standard PC USB port and with the Power2U Wall Outlet. The results were comparable and within what I would call the margin of error. I left my review sample installed next to the microwave and found it to be a very functional and quality product.