Sunday, November 23, 2014

Power Strip Meets USB Charging

Here is a sign of the times, something I came upon during my holiday shopping: a power strip that provides 2 USB charging outlets along with 4 grounded electrical outlets (made by Inland and seen in the Micro Center catalog). It makes sense as a product. If you are using several outlets at one place, there is a good chance that one of the things you are doing is charging a portable device. The USB charging port is the only well-accepted standard connector for this purpose. This combination device costs noticeably less than the combination of a power strip and a USB cube that you would otherwise deploy. Next, as the USB charging port becomes more common we may see it used for purposes other than charging, that is, to power devices such as musical instruments. This may be a bit of a design challenge. Most such devices require a higher voltage or more power than the USB charging standard provides, but the cost savings might be enough to nudge designers to make a device work with half the voltage or half the power so that it can fit within the limits of the standard.