As we accumulate more and more gadgets the number of four-way extension blocks needed to provide power for them all increases too. But the humble four-way isn’t the only solution, these days there’s a wide choice of kit to help you power and control your various devices. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting options.
The problem with standard four-way extensions is that many of today’s gadgets are powered by chunky transformers. Often these are so big that they block part of the adjacent socket so that you can’t plug anything else into it. The Pivot Power looks like an oversized bike chain but its clever design lets you bend it into different positions so that you can use all of its five sockets no matter what shape and size your adaptors are. It has built-in surge protection too and costs £29.95 from prezzybox.com
A different solution to the same problem is the cutely named PIGGY6. A much neater design than the standard, flat extension strips it provides six filtered mains sockets in a circular configuration making them more easily accessible. In addition it features a built in HomePlug 3-port Ethernet bridge so that you can tidy up your network connections too. The PIGGY6 is avalable from solwise and costs £51.11.
Whilst it looks like it’s just a chunkier version of a standard extension strip the ENER011 has a trick up its sleeve. Four of the six sockets can be controlled from your PC via a USB port. They can be programmed to switch on and off at a particular time or triggered by an event. You can pre-program the unit for timed switching via the PC then unplug it and use it elsewhere, so you could use it to switch lights on and off when you’re away from home for example. The ENER011 Costs £49.99 direct from energenie4u
Also from Energenie is this GSM controlled power socket. Send it a text and you can switch power to a device on and off from anywhere. It can accept commands from one master phone and up to four others, it sends a text to the master phone whenever it’s switched so you always know its status. There’s a temperature sensor included too so you can use it to turn on a heater for example if things get a bit chilly, plus it has an internal clock for timed switching. It costs £129.99 from energenie4u and you need to add a pay-as-you-go SIM card.
Sweex PP210 Intelligent UPS
Uninterruptible power supplies have long been popular in the business world but have always been rather pricey for home use. The Sweex PP210 though offers protection for up to four devices at an affordable £89.99. It gives a backup time of approximately 20 minutes in the event of a mains failure allowing you time to power down in an orderly way. It also features an Ethernet pass through socket to protect your network connection against surges. Plus there’s software that allows it to be monitored from a PC via a USB port so you can trigger an automatic shut down if there’s no one around when the power fails. You can buy one at maplin