Power to the Tablet and Phone
With all kinds of USB-powered phones, tablets and other devices filling up the school, it seems that the modern classroom is so encumbered with cables that it takes on the look of a power plant run amok. That’s changing with the advent of dedicated USB outlets that can put an end to individual AC adapters. Their charm is simple and very appealing: replace several individual power packs, each of which needs its own AC plug, with a single unit that only requires one power outlet, not only charging a variety of devices, but cleaning up the classroom at the same time.
While they are very different, the five USB power packs below have one thing in common: the ability to charge the classroom.
Newer Technologies’Power2U may look like an ordinary duplex wall outlet, but it has a secret: slide the two vertical covers aside and its USB outlets are revealed for charging everything from a smart-phone to a tablet. Available in white, almond and black, it replaces a standard outlet with a pair of three-prong plugs that can handle up to a total of 15 amps along with two USB charging stations. The outlets can work with a variety of existing electrical equipment and cost about $25 each, but requires an electrician to install.
By contrast, the Targus Plug-N-Power Charging Station with USB Charging Ports plugs right into an existing outlet and provides freedom of choice for charging. In addition to three regular old grounded AC outlets, the charging station adds a pair of USB outlets that provide 10 watts of charging power. It comes in white only and the USB ports can deliver 2.1 amps for an iPad or other demanding device.
Tripp-Lite’ TLP78TUSBG takes a different approach to providing USB power with a traditional power strip. With 7 three-prong grounded outlets and a full surge protector that can absorb spikes of up to 2,100 joules, the strip has two USB charging ports. Not only does the strip show how much power is being used, but it can be programmed to turn itself off to reduce phantom power losses and cut electricity bills. It costs about $50 and includes something the others don’t: $150,000 insurance against damage to electronics.
The oddball of the bunch is Belkin’s Conserve Valet. It doesn’t have any AC outlets, but provides ports for charging up to four USB-powered devices at once. Capable of delivering 2 amps of juice, the wild card is that it can be set up to turn itself off after 4.5 hours of use, presumably when each items is fully charged, reducing its phantom power use. A big bonus to this $40 device is that the power cord can be wrapped around it.
If your desk has a grommet hole for snaking cables, then Legrand’s Desktop Power Center can juice it up. The WSC320-S power center fits into a circular opening between 1.3 and 3 inches and provides three AC outlets as well as a pair of USB ones. It comes with a 12-foot power cable, is rated at 15 amps and has a surge protector built-in. It can also be clamped to the edge of any table or a desk.