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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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Cloak - Free VPN Service for Mac, iPad, and iPhone

CLOAK

There is a new VPN service on the Apple scene — and it's simple to use. It's called 'Cloak', and they offer a free service for up to 2hrs online or 1GB of secured traffic. This is great for when you are making a quick stop at Panera Bread, hotel, conference, or anywhere they have unsecured Wi-Fi. If you want more than the free account, you can pay $8/mo w/ 20GB of data, or $15/mo for 50GB of data. This is a fairly inexpensive solution for what it provides. 

If you are a geek and want to know all of the technical details, check out their 'technology deep dive'. 

I've been testing the free Cloak service on the Mac, and it's drop dead simple. I have mine configured to use the Cloak VPN service whenever I am on an unencrypted Wi-Fi network. 

They also have a client for your iOS devices as well — so you can ostensibly protect all of your traffic on your Apple Devices. 

Worth a look — check it out. 

Cloak - Free 

iOS 5.1 Update Now Available

Ios5 1update

iOS5 is now available for updating on your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It offers several new features, and it's a recommended upgrade.

Here's what you get:

  1. Japanese language support for Siri
  2. Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream
  3. Camera shortcut now always visible on Lock Screen for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)
  4. Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces
  5. Redesigned Camera app for iPad
  6. Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers
  7. Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad optimized to sound louder and clearer
  8. Podcast controls for playback speed and a 30 second rewind for iPad
  9. Updated AT&T network indicator
  10. Addresses bugs affecting battery life
  11. Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls

We had no trouble updating via Over The Air, but we have heard some reports of folks trying to do this update via iTunes at this time.

 

 

 

Apple Unveils New iPad with LTE

Retina iconApple has unveiled their highly anticipated iPad -- which they are not calling an iPad 3 nor an iPad HD -- both which were predicted by everybody.

If you haven't see the display, it's a 2048x1536 Retina Display at 264 pixels per inch,  which when held out about 15" from your face, normal viewing distance, that the human eye can't even distinguish them. Since this has so many pixels, Apple powers it with their new A5X Processor -- so an incredibly fast graphics processor. Faster graphics also includes new ability for 1080P high definition recording and playback with the new iSight camera on the rear, and a FaceTime (I'm assuming lower resolution) on the front.

If you live in North America, you have the option of LTE network compatibility. That's code for REALLY Fast 4G speeds. Verizon has LTE 4G in over 150 cities, and more every week. AT&T's rollout is slow. Very slow, although the places they have LTE are pretty fast.

As usual, it's available in 16, 32, and 64 GB models. Each one is also available for about an extra $130 w/ LTE capability.