Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger Review
Travelling with your precious devices to different destinations can be risky at times if the location you visit experiences either brownouts (drop in voltage) or spikes (too much voltage) in their electricity supply. Some countries experience this more than others, but it can strike at any time and be detrimental to your laptop, cell phone or particular device. Investing in a surge protector will help you benefit from some level of protection from these events.
Additionally, most power stations only offer two outlets and you may find you have more than two devices. With the many devices we travel with in today's age, two outlets may not be enough. Today we take a look at a travel surge protector from Belkin which offers three power outlets and offers two additional USB ports for charging your cell phone, iPod and more. This makes it not your typical surge protector but rather a 2-in-1 device and we'll see if it's any good.
About Belkin (from Belkin.com)
'Belkin International, Inc., offers an extensive range of innovations designed to give computer and consumer electronics users seamless integration in their homes, cars, and on the go. Belkin, a privately held company founded in California in 1983, is the recognized global leader in connectivity solutions. Since our inception in 1983, Belkin has experienced an amazing 25 consecutive years of dramatic growth and remains committed to making significant strides in the areas of research and design.
Belkin has come a long way to become the market leader across its product lines in just over two decades. From a garage in Hawthorne, California, with two employees and sales of $100,000 for the year, Belkin has become one of the fastest growing companies in the world, with over 1,000 employees and sales topping $1 billion. In addition to earning Inc. magazine’s 2003 Hall of Fame award, Belkin has been listed twice in its list of "500 Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies in the U.S.," the "Inner City Top 100" list for six consecutive years, and the Los Angeles Business Journal's "Fastest Growing Private Companies" list for five years.'
Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger Product Overview
Convenient, Dependable Design for Worry-Free Travel
Hotel rooms, airport terminals, and coffee shops never seem to have enough power outlets to handle all your devices at once. With the Belkin Mini Surge Protector you no longer have to choose what to charge first.
This surge protector acts as a power strip, letting you plug three AC devices into a single wall outlet. It is rated to handle 918 Joules and provides protection against power surges and spikes, since the smart traveler is looking for protection of essential gear and irreplaceable data, not just extra outlets.
Two Powered USB Outlets Let You Charge More Devices Easily
In addition to its three AC outlets, this surge protector features two protected, powered USB outlets, so you can easily charge your iPod along with other USB devices. These USB outlets do not transmit data and the surge protector cannot be used as a hub, but they do make it exceptionally easy to keep devices that are charged via USB interfaces up and running without blocking your computer's USB ports or the AC outlets that you need for bigger devices.
Plus you may be able to leave long, tangle-friendly cords and clunky item-specific chargers at home, since this mini surge protector comes with a mini-USB cable. This is especially convenient now that many phones, including Blackberries and Motorola RAZR phones, feature USB power connections.
Unique, Efficient Design with Rotating Plug for Added Versatility
Its compact, lightweight, and efficient design means that you can easily slip this mini surge protector into your laptop bag or carry-on, and because Belkin knows that working on the road often means trying to plug in despite awkward outlet or furniture positioning, a 360-degree rotating plug with four locking positions makes it easy to use this device in tight spaces.
The Belkin Mini Surge Protector/Dual USB Charger is backed by a lifetime warranty and a $75,000 Connected Equipment Warranty.
* Important: This product's USB outlets cannot be used as a USB hub and does not transmit data. The powered USB outlets on this unit are intended solely for charging devices that can be charged via a USB interface
Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger Product Features
Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger Product Specifications
First Impressions and Thoughts
The Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger comes in a compact corrugated box. Nothing to fancy about it as it just holds the Belkin logo.
Open the box and you will come across the surge protector unit, mini-USB charge cable and users guide. The plug on the surge protector unit is covered by a plastic cover which helps prevent it from scratching other devices in your carry-on bag and actually acts as a cushion between the unit and the wall where you've plugged the unit into, which is an ingenious idea.
The Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger is targeted towards traveling individuals and the result is a unit that is compact enough that it can be easily placed in a laptop bag side compartment. The word 'mini' that Belkin uses is probably not the best choice of word to describe this surge protectors size (a stick of gum would be considered mini), but nonetheless it is relatively compact measuring in at approximately 4.9 x 2.2 x 1.4".
The Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB charger is of a simple but elegant design and is constructed out of hard smooth plastic in a two-tone white and grey color. Gaze at the front of the surge protector and we find 3-AC outlets on the front fascia while the top of the unit houses two USB charge ports which operate at 5V/500mA for each port. An LED indicator status light informs the user if the power source is grounded and protected from any surges or spikes.
On the back of the surge protector we find the rotating 3-prong plug to be capable of rotating 360 degrees while locking at 4 different preset positions. This feature will help in times of tight corners and spaces where you can position the surge protector horizontally or vertically. Just below the 3-prong plug is where the release button for this rotating plug is located but unfortunately for my review unit, it was very hard to push down and much harder to operate. I needed to use a Philips screwdriver to get the plug to rotate, the tension is set way to high.
The 3-AC outlets feature are spaced enough that it won't interfere with typical laptop power cords, but it will not accept power cords which are wider like those whom resemble block-type AC plugs. It's clearly evident that Belkin does have the option of creating more space between each AC outlet (they could have easily put in 4-AC outlets), but they went against doing so. In retrospect, this was a bad idea because having AC outlets that are farther apart from each other would have allowed the surge protector compatible with bigger block-type AC plugs and even with some AA battery chargers. As it stands now, the unit would have issues with anything other than the standard power cord. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could have been much better.
But as it stands, the Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger is a good product. It does everything it advertises very well. Plugging in power cords into the device outlet port makes a tight secure connection and will not allow the plug to fall out easily. On some cheaper units, the opposite happens and it's very easy for a power cord to accidentally fall out. Once the unit is plugged into the wall outlet, the connection is also secure and does not wiggle extensively. Having the plastic prong cover handy will make things much more balanced by placing the plastic insert on the slit at the back of the surge protector unit. I've used the Belkin surge protector for five months now and have zero issues to report.
The USB charger ports works as advertised and I can charge a Flip Video Camera and 1st generation iPod Touch together without any issues. The charge only USB mini cable works well with an older Motorola KAZR phone as well. The USB ports only output 5V and 500mA at each port so you may run across some devices that may not charge with the Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Surge Protector, it's USB ports just doesn't have enough juice for those hungrier gadgets.
About the only technical aspect that I feel isn't quite the best is the unit's clamping voltage. Belkin specifies that this surge protector has a UL Clamping Voltage of 800V. I'd rather have a model that has a clamping voltage starting at 330V. Remember that a clamping voltage means this unit will start working and proving surge suppression when it senses that 800V has run through it, which is simply too high for my liking. Having one that starts at the lower range of 330V (even that is well above the normal 120V) would be better. Regardless, having some form of surge protection is better than none at all. But Belkin should have made this surge protector with a 330V clamping voltage, it would have made it an even better product, not just a good product.