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Published on January 27th, 2012 | by Greg

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USB: Coming Soon To An Outlet Near You

More and more de­vices these days are re­ly­ing on USB plugs for pow­er. Imag­ine if your smart­phone could sim­ply plug in­to the wall di­rect­ly, with­out a need for that ex­tra trans­former! All it would take is a slight change to your out­let to add USB plug-in ca­pa­bil­i­ty, which should be pret­ty sim­ple- so why aren’t these in ev­ery home or ho­tel yet?

Well, ex­pect them to spread… but per­haps not as quick­ly as you might think. We tried out the first UL list­ed op­tion, the New­erTech Pow­er2U USB Out­let, and found it to be a bit of a mixed bag. When it works, it’s nifty- but does re­quire some wiring and plan­ning and pos­si­bly more.

We popped open the pack­age and found an out­let where ev­ery­one charges their phones. Af­ter read­ing the in­struc­tions, we no­ticed this fine print: “Elec­tri­cal box­es typ­i­cal­ly range from 15 to 16 cu­bic inch­es. To de­ter­mine the size of the elec­tri­cal box you in­tend to in­stall a Pow­er2U in­to, turn off pow­er to out­let, re­move face­plate cov­er, and mea­sure height, width, and depth of the box. Mul­ti­ply­ing those mea­sure­ments to­geth­er will equal the cu­bic inch­es or vol­ume of the elec­tri­cal box. If you are un­sure of how to do these and/or can­not fol­low all safe­ty pre­cau­tions, you should con­sult an li­censed elec­tri­cian.”

Sev­er­al of our box­es were 15 inch­es, though we did man­age to find one with 16 to spare. Then we re­al­ized that one of the box­es wasn’t re­al­ly deep enough. Af­ter some scur­ry­ing about, we did get it in­stalled… But we had some trou­ble with one of the USB ports not pro­vid­ing pow­er, un­til we jig­gled the con­nec­tion just so, and it seemed to work. Of course, DIY skills are great, but we def­i­nite­ly would cau­tion an av­er­age renter against at­tempt­ing to in­stall these at home. We could use the oth­er out­lets then, free­ing them up (for some things, like lamps, larg­er plugs may block ac­cess to the USB ports). And we were able to charge our iPad 1 and 2, iPhones, Black­ber­ry, and even GPS de­vices.

Note that the Pow­er2U on­ly comes in a bright white, which may not match your ex­ist­ing fix­tures. But for $30, it’s a nice way to ditch the wall warts and plug your smart­phones and oth­er de­vices di­rect­ly in­to the wall.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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