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Green IT: Smart Strip Review

Smart Strip LCG3: Review

The Smart Strip LCG3 is designed to reduce power consumption by devices plugged into a surge protector by automatically powering them off when a master device is shut off, without requiring any additional cables or software. This allows the user to have task lighting, power-sapping adapters, and peripherals like printers plugged in, but not drawing power when the master device is not powered on.

The unit has 10 sockets, divided between three easily distinguishable types: The blue "Control" socket (1), red "Constant Hot" sockets (3), and the "Automatically Switched" sockets (6) which are beige. The distinct colors make it very easy to determine what is plugged in to which sort of socket. Additionally, the lit On/Off switch recessed, which prevents accidental power disconnections. The device also has ground and surge lights, to indicate whether the outlet the strip is plugged into is grounded or getting "dirty" power. The ground light is particularly important for knowing equipment is protected against power line surges.

The Smart Strip has the power-adapter friendly broad surge protector format, following in line with the typical design of power strips released by APC and similar vendors. Intelligently, several of the sockets are spaced to allow "wall-wart" style adapters to be plugged in without blocking other sockets. The power cable to the strip is thick, and the plug on the end has an angled offset which conveniently allows access to neighboring sockets in the wall outlet it is plugged into. This differs from some other vendors which block off any outlets below the power strip's cable.

An intelligent feature seen in this product that is not present in similar products is the Sensitivity Adjuster. This is a control that can be adjusted with a Phillips head screwdriver located on the side of the device that allows fine tuning of the control socket's sensitivity. This is particularly useful when using the Smart Strip with a laptop or other low-power device. While the strip operated well with the default setting, being able to adjust the control socket to shut off the automatically switched sockets when a tower goes to sleep, or to set the control so that it does -not- shut off switched sockets when a laptop goes to sleep, is a level of control that users will likely appreciate.

This device works well with laptops, and assumedly other low-power devices like Mac Minis, though we have not tested with every device available. Particularly for laptops, a problem could arise due to their uneven method of drawing power: When charging they draw more power than when they are fully charged and only pulling a trickle. In our testing, the Smart Strip had no difficulties with this.

Since power adapters, chargers, printers, monitors, and other devices can continue to unnecessarily draw a charge when not in use, the Smart Strip provides a simple, effective way to cut out that "phantom current" during the 15 hours a day or so that the devices go unused. This can result in a complete ROI within months, instead of years, depending on what is being managed in the automatically switched sockets. Not bad for $40 or less.

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