Economy is going down the toilet, getting a job is harder than ever, and it seems like everyone is cutting back on everything. I'm sure you have at least thought about it - how to cut back on something to save some pennies. I sure have and I took a look at the bills and noticed with all the testing I've been doing around here that maybe I should try to cut back on the electronic usage. I thought about how I could cut back without disturbing my daily routine and then this showed up on my door - the Bits LTD Smart Strip. It's a surge protector with the added functionality of completely shutting off certain devices plugged in, to stop them from drawing vampire power.
For those of you that haven't heard of the term "Vampire Power", it refers to when a device is turned off and it goes into stand by mode and continues to draw power. Sony's Playstation 2 and 3 are perfect examples of devices that draw vampire power. Even though it maybe only a few watts, once you add them up and figure that power draw is 24/7/365, it can get pricey.
So how does the Bits LTD Smart Strip help you combat this? It has 1 master outlet, 3 "Hot" outlets, and 6 "controlled" outlets. What the hell does all that mean? It means that the "hot" outlets will perform like regular surge outlets and will be always on. The master outlet will determine whether the control outlets will get power. When the power going through the master port drops off by you shutting off whatever is plugged in to that outlet, the Smart Strip will cut all the power to the control ports. And we don't mean put them in standby; it really kills all the power.
I thought the concept was great and thankfully the execution is just as awesome. The Smart Strip was the double, with 2 rows of 5 ports running down the side. Every port is clearly labeled and color coded, which made it super easy to plug in my equipment. The blue port is the master outlet, the red ones are the hot ports, and the green ones are the controlled outlets. Having spacing in between ports was such a welcomed feature, since not all companies think that great product design means not having a giant power block at the outlet (a discussion for another day indeed). There are 3 spaces for chunky adapters, one in the red zone and 2 among the green ports.
The Smart Strip was definitely a bit bigger than expected. This beast was at least 14" long and took up a considerable amount more space once I plugged in all of my electronics. You don't really think about it, but 10 devices plugged into one surge protector is pretty big and looks like a hot mess. I did end up using some wire loom in an attempt to tame it. Trying to hide it was also an adventure since it was so big (that's what she said, lolz). Again, with all the various power cables and blocks sticking out, it wouldn't fit under the TV console. So I was forced to put it on top, behind the TV. Make sure you save a space about the size of a shoe box for wherever you want to set up.
Speaking of setups, I used this for my TV setup and it worked wonderfully. The TV got to be the master outlet. DVR, cable modem, and router occupied the hot outlets, and that left all of my gaming and peripherals to occupy the controlled ports. Right out of the box, the Smart Strip recognized whether the TV was on or off and acted accordingly. The only problem I ran into was when I decided to switch some stuff around and replace the TV with a nettop computer as the master. Once I switched back, the Smart Strip wasn't recognizing when the TV was on or not. Thankfully, it was a quick fix as there was a sensitivity adjustment knob on the side by the main switch. Within a few turns, I had everything back to the way it was more or less. It still took a few moments to realize that the power was out, but not long enough to be of any concern.
I'm waiting on a Kill-a-Watt Unit to show up, so as of right now I can't really say how much on power I'm actually saving. I did notice that the Christmas/electronic store rave under my TV was gone and that my living room actually got dark when everything was off, which was so welcomed. Once we get a Kill-a-Watt in, we'll update this article with that info.
With a list price of under $50, I think that Bits LTD Smart Strip is a great piece of technology and worth every penny. Out of 5 TOV stars, we give it a 4.5.