usb-outletAre you tired of losing electrical outlets to charging your USB devices? What if there was a wall outlet that would just let you plug in the USB cable directly? Well, there soon will be!

There have been people that have come up with ways for you to wise USB ports into a wall outlet, but it looks like someone has finally just decided to manufacture them.

Available from FastMac for delivery in early 2010, pending approval on its safety, the TruePower UCS Power Outlet With Built-in USB Ports will offer you two standard three-pronged outlets along with two USB ports.  These will pop into any existing wall outlet you have with no special wiring required, and you will then be able to charge your iPod by just using the USB cable, and free up another electrical outlet for something else.

The outlets are a bit on the expensive side at $9.95, but how much would it cost you to buy a power strip or hire an electrician to come in and run a whole new outlet?

Here are the technical specifications on the outlet:

Input voltage: AC 100 to 240V 50/60Hz
USB input current: 80mA
Output voltage: USB: DC 5.0V 600mA
Operation temperature: -15 to 45 Degrees Celsius
Relative humidity: < 95%
Air pressure: 86 to 106kPa

The one place I would love to see these take off, but I know it will never happen? Hotels. Imagine no longer having to travel with chargers, just USB cables. Oh the joy that would bring to me.

Categories: Gadgets, Home Electronics, USB   

USB 3.0 has finally received its certification.

Back in August we told you that USB 3.0 was finally on its way, and now it appears it has arrived.  According to CNet, the USB Promotor Group has certified USB 3.0, better known as SuperSpeed USB.  To give you an idea of why it is called “SuperSpeed”, here are comparissons of how fast each version of USB would transfer a 25GB file

  • USB 1.0: 9.3 hours
  • USB 2.0: 13.9 minutes
  • USB 3.0: 70 seconds

In other words, this will radically change how fast you transfer files to things such as thumb drives and external hard drives.  Just imagine that you could back up a 250GB hard drive to an external drive in 11.67 minutes.  There will be next to no reason any more to not back up your files when you can do it at those speeds.

The bad news is that Microsoft is already saying that since it took eight years to go from 2.0 to 3.0, they are nervous about how good it really is.  They are debating if Vista will ever support it, and they are saying it won’t make it into the initial release of Windows 7.  Controllers for the new USB will appear in late 2009 and in consumer products in 2010, so it is likely that consumer outcry will cause Microsoft to have to rethink this policy.

Categories: Gadgets, General Computing Tips, USB   

USB, short for Universal Serial Bus, is an amazing technology that allows you to connect hundreds of items to your computer easily.  Somehow this makes companies think they can produce an endless stream of useless gadgets.

While I have seen numerous USB powered devices that have made me wonder why anyone would buy one, the Webmail Notifier worries me in that it is deceptively useful.  The theory is that you hook this device up, link it to your emails, and it will flash different colors telling you when you have received a new personal or business email, and which email account you received it on.

When you think about it for more than two seconds is when it starts to fall apart.

The volume of email I receive in a day across my five main accounts is staggering.  This thing would be lit up from the moment I got up until the moment I went to bed.  Never mind this is taking up real estate on your desk, and you can accomplish the same job with numerous instant messenger programs and plugins for various web browsers for free.

While this is just one of many silly USB devices out there (I am sure we will cover more in the future), this one is a perfect example of how you should think the true usefulness through before purchasing yet another device for your desk.  If you feel a real need for something that may be lightly entertaining, or you just like lights, then you may find this device fun, but we would hesitate to call it “useful”.

Categories: General Computing Tips, USB   
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