Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Mimsy Were the Technocrats: As long as we keep talking about it, it’s technology.

Belkin 6-plug, 2-port wall brick and USB charger

Jerry Stratton, March 7, 2012

Belkin 6-plug brick plugged in

Works fine even if the outlets are upside down as they are in my kitchen… the empty hole in the center is where the screw used to be before I removed it.

I just got back from a round trip through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and then back through northern New Mexico, and just before leaving I realized I wanted to get a combination power strip/USB extender for traveling. About a month ago I ran across the Belkin Mini Surge Protector designed specifically for traveling, but its USB ports are only .5 amps. That makes them unreliable with more power-hungry USB devices such as an iPad. According to reports, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have similar experiences with the .5 amp USB port on my car stereo.

I looked around a bit on Amazon and discovered the 6 Outlet Surge Protector with USB, also from Belkin. Unfortunately, the description didn’t say how much power the USB ports provide. I looked at the Apple Store and the Microsoft Store in Fashion Valley; neither had the Belkin and while the Microsoft Store had a different, larger power extender with built-in USB, the package didn’t say how much power the USB ports provided, and the employees didn’t know either.

So I made a mental note of the stores that Belkin claimed carry it just in case. My girlfriend and I went to Target in Round Rock, and at first it didn’t look like they carried it either: they had power extenders in the video section (which had special RCA ports), and power extenders in the general electronics section, and didn’t have anything with USB ports on it. So I gave up and helped my girlfriend find a wireless mouse. And the power extenders with USB on them, including the Belkin, were right next to the mice.

I bought it for a couple of bucks more than it would have cost on Amazon, and used it that night in the hotel room. It worked great. The packaging says that the USB ports provide .75 amps, which is far less than the 2.1 amps the iPad wants but more than enough to charge it overnight.

Belkin 6-plug brick back side

The extender takes up two ports, with one plug and one stabilizer.

The power outlets are spaced just like most any other extender, which means that the bricks of some devices will cover two of them. But it was still more than enough for my girlfriend’s computer, my personal cell phone, my work phone, and my camera charger, as well as the refrigerator that I unplugged to make room for the Belkin, and then the iPad via the USB charger on the top.1

The device assumes that you’re installing it permanently. But the screw that holds it into the wall is easily removed2. Unlike some expanders designed for use on two-plug receptacles, the Belkin only has one plug for the top outlet and then one plastic stabilizer to go into the bottom outlet. Since it’s unlikely that the two outlets are from different circuits this shouldn’t have any effect, especially on the low-power devices we’re likely plugging into these things anyway.3

This is going into my standard travel pack. The hotel I stayed at in Las Cruces4 had enough outlets, but the hotel in Texas and the hotel in Albuquerque did not. In Albuquerque I unplugged the refrigerator, plugged in the Belkin, and then plugged the refrigerator back in; it worked great.

June 11, 2012: Still-life with electronics

I am currently recovering from a much longer trip than the one on which I purchased this combo multi-outlet. It’s been a lifesaver. In this photo, it is recharging an iPad, two cell phones, a laptop, a video camera, and a still camera. Due to the bricks that the cell phones use, the power outlets are full, but that’s still six devices charging, with an empty USB port for the iPod if needed.

A lot of outlets in houses seem to be upside down. I wonder why that happens?

  1. Both USB ports are on the top, but well-spaced. There should be no problem using both of them.

  2. Just make sure you keep the cardboard washer, if you want to store the screw for future use.

  3. If you’re using it for a refrigerator, a microwave, and a couple of hair dryers, you may have a different experience than I did.

  4. America’s Best Value—and they were a generally good motel all around, with genuinely nice people running it.

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