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Review: NewerTech Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet

 NewerTech Power2U AC/USB

NewerTech Power2U AC/USB

There aren't that many hardware products that I gush over. I think I've found one. It's the Newer Technology Power2U AC/USB outlet.  I can't believe these are still fairly new to the market given the ubiquity of USB on essentially every device from cell phones, iPads, desk fans, and just about anything else that you could power from a computer. Other World Computing was kind enough to supply a couple for me to try.

Installation

The Newer Technology Power2U AC/USB outlet will work on any 15amp (20 amp optional) circuit with a 16 cubic inch electrical box. This is important to note this — because it's fairly deep and it will just fit in many standard boxes. It's typically a DIY install for most, and believe me I tried. However, I had to bring an electrician in to install mine — our house wires were spliced in such a way it didn't seem as clear cut to me, so I bailed on it.  The good news is that OWC, the distributor for them has easy to understand and follow videos   - and it's really an easy install if you follow along.

Mine was a special case, so I'm glad I had the pros come in.   My advice is to watch the videos, see if it feels like something you are comfortable with. If not, let the pro do it — I had my guy install ours for $50 — it took him about 30 minutes, and even he was impressed with them.

The Good

Now, the good news is that this thing works GREAT. You can literally have two USB 3.0/2.0 devices  (usually iPads overnight in our house) along with two standard AC outlets all plugged in at once.  It's a fantastic solution to those who need more outlet space and abilities to charge their USB devices. They support the standard four-pin type-A jack USB cables - just like the ones you plug into your computer, iPad/iPod power bricks, etc. 

We installed one in the kitchen where we usually like to grab some quick power, and also one in the family room for when we are relaxing and need some extra juice to get through till the end of the day. 

I didn't do any timed tests to see if there was a difference in charging speed, but I didn't notice anything significant when charging the iPhones — they charge VERY quickly.  The iPads typically charge in an overnight situation, and even with their dedicated adapters, they tend to take much longer to charge. I'd say if there is any difference in the speed of charging, it's probably negligible. I also tested it with my Flip Mino USB camera, and it seemed to power and charge it just fine as well. 

Safety

If you have small children, the outlets will work with the child proofing plastic nubs you put into the 3 prong outlets. The USB shutters are spring loaded and close when not in use. Also, the shutter turns off then USB ports when you remove the cable. These sliders are a little bit difficult to slide open - so even a kid with great dexterity will have a bit of difficulty with it. If it was a bit easier to open, it would be nice for my hands.  It's a trade off - but safety first in my opinion.

Update: The newest version of these have the NEC safety shutters on the AC receptacles - so no plastic child proofing required.  The particular 15A version we tested are now on clearance - so if you don't need the NEC safety shutters, you can get the model I tested at a deep discount.

Bottom Line

I've really enjoyed having these installed in two rooms of our home. They make charging much easier in a multi-device, multi-person household. We have 3 or 4 devices charging at any given time, so the ability to plug in directly is a boon.

These are reasonably priced, and if you are looking to make an upgrade to your house that you will use daily — this is an excellent one to make.  Personally, If I was building a new house - these would be in every outlet - because you always need a place to plug in USB.

Pros:

  • Highly convenient
  • Priced right
  • Multiple colors to fit different situations and decors
  • Available for 15A or 20A circuits
  • Built-in NEC Safety shutters (Current models only)

Cons:

  • Can be a little difficult to open the USB door. 

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Review: Epson Stylus NX430 - Inexpensive Capable All-In-One

Epsonnx430

The NX430 is one of the smallest printers we've tested, coming in at just 15 x 12 x 6 inches. With its sleek black look, it's attractive and small enough to fit inside a small office, dorm room, family room, etc. The moniker Epson uses is an 'Small-inOne' All-in-One printer. I'd say that's pretty spot on, as it is small, sleek, and also it can do three things — Print/Copy/Scan. While it looks great, it definitely feels a bit flimsier compared to some of their higher end printers. The main attraction to us Apple users is that this printer features compatibility with AirPrint. This enables you to print directly from your iOS devices, such as your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. In addition to that, it also supports Wi-Fi printing, so no need to hook up a USB cable if you don't want to be tied down to your machine.

Print scan nx430

Setting up the Wi-Fi connection is simple. I went to the Wi-Fi setup with the 2.5" touch screen and did a manual configuration. I chose my network and then entered the password. Next I opened up the Printer settings on my Mac, choose 'Add printer', and then I was able to select from the Nearby Printers. Within an instant, it was all setup. You can access all of the typical settings, such as Supply Levels, Print test pages, clean heads, etc. I would say part of this is the ease of the printer, but also much of the ease comes being paired with Mac OS X.

If you want to print some pictures from your SD card, no problem.  You can insert an SD card, Memory Stick PRO duo, or a USB thumb drive  and do a slideshow to print and select photos. The LCD isn't much to be impressed with, especially when you are used to looking at Apple Retina displays all day long, but for a sub $100 printer, it gets the job done.

From the same multi-function touch screen, you can Copy and Scan as well.  The Flatbed scanner works quite well. I used the scan tool in OS X and was able to scan directly into Preview with ease. The maximum bit is 24-bit, and has a resolution of 1200 x 1200. I was able to get some pretty good scans, and when choosing the proper dpi, you can get the results you would like.

Scanning nx430

Print quality was quite good with photos. It offers 4 color inks - Cyan/Black/Magenta/Yellow. I was printing on some of the Epson brand 4 x 6 Glossy photo paper and the high-res images I  printed came out looking awesome. I really do appreciate the photo quality that Epson has when it comes to printing photos.  The output on standard paper was good for a printer in this price range. The test prints I did were absolutely acceptable, text, graphics, PDFs, and photos.  My only gripe was running out of black ink too soon. I deliberately used a mix of colorful photos and graphics for testing, but still ran out of Black, way before I did of the other inks. This could have been my testing documents, but it did burn through quite faster than I would have expected. Here is the thing that irritated me though — until I replace the Black, then I can't print anything at all (even though the menu says I can still use other functions). It won't even let you do a nozzle test. However, scanning still worked just fine.

Supplies nx430

When the printing did commence, it's no speed demon, but it gets the job done. It's much slower than the Artisan 800 we had tested previously, however, it's also 1/4 of the price.

Conclusion:

With the built-in Wi-Fi, AirPrint capability, great photo printing, LCD touch screen, and respectable color printing, I found this printer to be a winner on most counts, and being a sub $100 printer, it's certainly capable for all that it offers.

Product: Epson Stylus NX430 Small In One Printer

Price: $99.95

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Review Sample provided by: Epson

iPhone 4S Coming to China and 21 More Countries Jan 13

More Markets = More Phone sales keeps Apple competitive.

Beginning Friday, January 13, iPhone 4S will be available in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guam, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and Uganda.

iPhone 4S comes in either black or white for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model, $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the new 64GB model.* iPhone 4S is sold through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. iPhone 4 is available for just $99 (US) and iPhone 3GS is available for free with a two year contract from participating carriers.

Holiday Gift - Apple TV - Under $100

Thinkmac present noreflect

If you have been looking for an inexpensive gift for the Apple lover, check out the second gen Apple TV. Not only is it the size of a hockey puck, but it operates in total silence. With the Apple TV  it opens up a world of viewing right onto your big screen TV. Besides renting and buying movies and TV shows on the iTunes store, you can play all of your music & videos from your iTunes library, play whatever you have on iCloud - including your photo stream from your iOS devices, and the coolest of all is it supports AirPlay. With AirPlay you can push video and music content to your Apple TV from your iOS device. On the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, it can also MIRROR what you see on your iOS screen. Great for some big screen Angry Birds action.

AppleTV2

Best of all -- it's under $99.

You will need an HDMI cable, and you can pick up a high quality one of those  at Monoprice.com for under $5.

 

Product: Apple TV (second gen)

Price$95 on Amazon