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We’ve all had to get on our hands and knees and climb under a desk or pull it away from the wall to find a spare outlet on a power strip or surge protector. Or to dig for an available USB charging socket on our computer or find an AC adapter to use. The AmazonCommercial AC and USB Desktop Outlet with Surge Protection cleverly offers a combination solution for people who work at a desk that answers those needs.
Using a lever backed by a powerful spring, you can slide the horseshoe-shaped surge protector onto any side of a desk or tabletop that has about 4.5 inches of clearance from front to back and is between 1 and 2.5 inches thick.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best surge protectors, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
The power “strip” puts its on/off switch and four USB jacks on the top and arrays two sets of 3-prong AC outlets, one set on each side of bottom arm of the horseshoe. The AC jacks are oriented with the blades parallel to the floor, and the ground pin away from the front. The unit is 3 inches wide and 1.5 inches tall across its length; each segment is 5.5 inches long.
The model’s six outlets are closely spaced, like a wall outlet turned sideways with one extra jack. That means it will work well only with standard two-prong and three-prong plugs typical for computer equipment and longer cords on AC adapters, or AC adapters that are wide instead of tall. Normal wall warts will cover one or two adjacent outlets.
The four USB plugs can each produce 2.4 amps of power at 5 volts (12 watts). All four ports can put out a maximum of 4.8A across attached devices (24W). The manual warns that the surge protector won’t distribute power evenly among the four if they exceed 4.8W in draw. Nonetheless, the wattage is enough to charge phones and most devices besides tablets at a relatively fast clip, solo or in multiples.
Amazon doesn’t provide specifics about the degree of protection offered by the surge protector, only that it can handle up to 15A/1800W, and that it provides 1,080 joules of protection. That’s substantial for typical purposes, when only a high-performance workstation might pull down several hundred watts. The power switch includes a circuit breaker that trips if the power draw is too high, and resets without using a separate button.
Most surge protectors list the maximum voltage that can pass across each of the three legs of a three-wire circuit before clamping goes into effect using metal-oxide varistors (MOVs), and that information is lacking. No warranty against damage to a failure to provide protection is included, though such offers typically have significant limits and are hard to file claims against.
The only real downside of the surge protector is that the spring-loaded lever that holds it in place can’t be locked in position with a screw or through other means. In testing, it’s easy to yank a cable and slide the unit left to right. However, the design makes it quite difficult to remove unintentionally. It’s likely best used in places without small children or large animals. In normal conditions, you just need to hold it in place or move it back in place when manipulating AC plugs.
The bottom line
If you rarely add or remove AC plugs, the form factor may not suit. But if you want outlets nearby and regularly plug and unplug them, it’s a perfect fit. It’s especially nice to have so many USB ports readily available, literally on top of having several AC outlets.
Best Prices Today: AmazonCommercial AC and USB Desktop Outlet with Surge Protection