October 16, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
Your iPhone charger is never where you need it. And if it is, then chances are pretty good that the most convenient outlet is already full.
That’s the problem in my house, at least. With four iPhones, a couple of tablets and drawers full of other USB-charging gadgets, there’s always steep competition for the most high-traffic outlets. That’s why I was initially intrigued by the new USB-charging wall outlets that began hitting the market about a year ago.
This particular one is from NewerTech, which calls the product Power2U. It offers two standard grounded outlets plus two USB outlets, so you can charge two devices, plus keep your lamps and toasters plugged in.
The Power2U installs just like any other outlet. Simply pull out your old outlet (after shutting off the power, of course), then connect the positive, negative and ground wires. The Power2U is a sung fit in a standard wall box, so you need to be careful about tucking all the excess wire into the wall.
The Power2U performs just as promised. The two USB outlets are spaced so that they’re out of the way of the standard outlet holes, so you can get four things connected at once. The USB outlets each have a spring cover which accomplish two things. First, they cover the ports to keep dust out and look neat. Second, when they’re closed, they shut off power to the ports, so you’re not sucking phantom power and adding unnecessarily to your electric bill (standard charges continue to use electricity even when there’s no device attached to them).
Once I had the cover screwed on and the main power restored, I plugged in my iPhone and Samsung tablet. Both started charging right away. Mission accomplished.
That would probably be enough to make me like this product, but I figured out an even better use—charging my 3D TV glasses. If you’ve got an active shutter 3D TV, chances are that the glasses charge via USB. You can attach them to the USB ports on the TV, but that only gives you ports for two glasses at a time. If you have a whole family to outfit, you’ll need to find someplace else to charge them. Also, if you use a projector instead of a flat panel TV, it’s not terribly convenient to hang your 3D glasses from the ceiling. A great solution would be to replace one or two of the standard outlets in your home theater with Power2U outlets, to make sure your glasses are always charged.
The only downside of the Power2U outlet is the price. At $25 each, they’re about $20 more than a plain vanilla outlet. The convenience they add makes them worth the price. You’ll wish all your outlets were like this.
NewerTech Power2U Outlet
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.