Voltower towers above other power strips and surge protectors

Surge protectors have long been among the most important electronic accessories to own. They not only provide consumers with the ability to power multiple devices at the same time, but also ensure those devices aren’t damaged if there’s a power surge.

patent-claimedOne common problem with them, however, is that it’s often hard to get devices of different sizes to reach the same power strip, at least without causing an unsightly mess of cables. Voltower is a patented and vertically-oriented, height-adjustable power strip that makes the task easier. It can be adjusted to stand from 25 to 36 inches tall and has the capacity to plug in up to 10 devices, with six 110-volt standard power outlets and four USB ports. The grounded and surge-protected strip also offers multiple mounting options.

Voltower ships in November at $129 in black, silver and black-on-silver SKUs. But early bird Kickstarter backers can get one for a pledge starting at $69. Its makers are looking to raise $188,888 by April 3. The device is clearly a handy one to have in a home or office. But it lacks the portability of typical power strips and surge protectors. It also lacks the original, eye-catching design of the similar TwistVolt.

Smart Home

Smart Outlet lends you the power of the plug

The fastest way to create home automation is to start off with the infrastructure. If your outlets are smart enough to be turned on and off automatically, so too can any device plugged into them.

The Smart Outlet from Newbeem is a wall outlet that adds more features than simply providing power. With a built in surge protector, this device turns any outlet into three outlets, one of those three being Wi-fi enabled. With that and the variable dimmer inside, any light or appliance can be plugged in and controlled manually using a phone or set up on a timer or programmable dimming pattern. Newbeem is trying to raise $20,000 CAD to fund mass production of the outlets. Picking up a Smart Outlet will only cost supports $30 CAD, with an expected shipping date of November.

Anything that makes smart electricity more accessible and easy to use is always a welcome addition to the market. Two questions stick out when viewing this product however. First, how does it differentiate itself from competitors like WeMo or Brightup? Second, why is only one of the outlets Wi-fi enabled? Without adequate answers, this may prove to be a product of middling quality at best.