Wet and Wild
Liquids and electrical outlets don't mix, but few power strips are built to withstand even an everyday water or coffee spill. Wet Circuits is a water-resistant strip that won't short-circuit or leak electrical current when wet. Priced at $70, it conducts electric power only when a plug is fully inserted--good news for parents with curious kids who try to jam hairpins, tweezers, or even tiny fingers into a socket.
On a conventional power strip, bulky adapters often block adjacent outlets, rendering them useless. Socket Sense solves this dilemma by offering six movable sockets and a base that expands and contracts accordion-style. Priced from $20 to $35, Socket Sense comes in four models, with 1080 to 2160 Joules of surge protection and with cord lengths ranging from 3 to 12 feet.
Cord Meets Strip
The folks at Connect Design are onto something here: an extension cord that doubles as a power strip. The Multi Lines power cord ($16 to $22) has three sockets evenly spaced along its length. Three cord lengths are available: 2 meters (6.5 feet); 3 meters (9.8 feet); and 5 meters (16.4 feet). And you can choose from three color options: white, pink, or blue.
Earthlings, meet the mother ship of all power supplies. The $100 UFO Power Center is larger than most strips, and its power-saving features are designed to lower your electrical bill. Featuring four 110-volt sockets, the Power Center measures (and logs) energy usage of each socket. The free Energy UFO app for the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad communicates with the Power Center via Wi-Fi and has diagnostic tools to help you manage power consumption.
The Coralife Power Center is designed for reptile owners who want a timer-controlled power strip to run heating, lighting, and humidifiers for their cold-blooded friends. It features a 24-hour timer and eight outlets for indoor use. Available in three versions priced from $24 to $36, Coralife has separate diurnal and nocturnal outlets that alternate power depending on the time of day.
Need a creative outlet? This flexible strip folds around table legs, bed posts, and other home and office obstructions. In addition, the bendable design of the Pivot Power accommodates bulky AC adapters that won't fit on a conventional power strip. With six surge-protected outlets and 6 feet of cord, the $30 Pivot Power can snake its way into hard-to-reach places.
One common problem with power strips is the lack of space between sockets. A bulky power brick can obstruct an adjacent socket, preventing you from using every outlet at the same time. The unique design of the PowerSquid Surge3000 Calamari Edition solves this predicament: Six tentacle-like sockets extend from a base unit. Also, two of the outlets glow with a blue neon light, making it easy to find a plug under a desk, or in low-light conditions.
Here's a power strip with a built-in Wi-Fi network. The iRemoTap from Japanese embedded-systems developer Ubiquitous has four sockets that you can control wirelessly via PC or mobile device. If a device is using too much power, iRemoTap sends you a tweet, text, or email, and invites you to turn off the energy hog remotely.
Home-theater buffs, this one's for you. The Monster GreenPower HDP 1400G High Definition PowerCenter comes with a remote control for shutting off power to your HDTV, DVD or Blu-ray player, receiver, and subwoofer when they are idle. The 10-outlet PowerCenter automatically disconnects from live power lines during surges and spikes, protecting itself and your expensive gear, and reconnects when power levels are safe. One drawback: This Monster is awfully pricey at $280.
What's more fun than an anthropomorphic power strip? Electric Man is a whimsical change from the boring brick o' sockets. With four grounded plugs masquerading as arms and legs, Electric Man provides plenty of room between sockets, so you don't have to worry about a bulky power brick blocking an adjacent plug.
What is it with spaceships and power strips? The $30 ezSpace UFO has six standard grounded outlets, each with enough elbow room to accommodate a large transformer. The on/off switch is situated on the bottom of the unit to prevent you from accidentally cutting power to your devices.
Why buy more sockets than you need? The Multi-Tab Power Strip concept consists of detachable sockets that hook up train-style. To remove a plug, simply press (or step on) the socket's tab, and the plug pops out easily. One potential drawback: The mini-sockets seem likely to be easier to lose than a connected (albeit boring) beige brick.
A Number-Cruncher's Delight
If you wonder how much money your gargantuan 3D plasma HDTV costs to run each month, here's one way to find out. The Power Cost Controller is an eight-socket strip and surge protector that measures energy consumption by 8- to 1800-watt appliances. The LCD shows costs by kilowatt-hour, so you can monitor the hourly, daily, or weekly expense in electricity. This $75 superstrip ships with a replaceable 1.5V battery, too.