Have you ever wished you could connect your USB cable directly to a power outlet instead of your laptop or PC? I remember a time when my iPod ran out of battery and I couldn’t find a place to charge it. I sort of hated myself for not bringing my laptop and for not buying that charger with a USB on one end and a plug on the other. At the same time, I wished there was a USB outlet available so I could conveniently plug in my device to boost its power.
Years later, the FastMac U-Socket comes out to finally solve those problems! FastMac had everyone in eager anticipation after it announced intentions of bringing the concept to life. As expected, FastMac got everyone talking, including us.
The FastMac USB outlet is not your usual socket. It makes available two three-prong power outlets as well as (drumroll, please…) two USB ports! When it comes to installing, the U-Socket requires quite a bit of space and needs at least a 16-cubic-inch electrical box to accommodate it. Given this, and despite FastMac’s claim, installation may not be a total breeze (unless you already have the 16 cu. in box available).
The two USB ports can handle any USB device (1.1, 2.0 and 3.0) and have 12W of total charging power. Together with a rate of 2.4A, any device with an empty battery will fill up faster than when a normal charger is used. Plug two devices at the same time and they will charge just as fast. Plug in two more devices in the power outlet and you’ll have four devices plugged in and charging as remarkably fast. If you’re worried about too much power consumption, don’t be. FastMac bears a 5-star Energy Efficient Design and the company claims that users can save up to $25 a year in electric bill.
Although the socket looks totally amazing on the outside and sounds cool considering its specs, look closer and there are some minor issues that exist. For instance, the USB sockets are strictly for charging only, and not for data transferring. Since charging becomes direct (eliminating the need for an adapter), current leakage may occur. A solution could be to minimize usage but that would defy the purpose.
Another potential kink is that the USB outlet may be located in a place that is not very convenient for you to leave your gadgets to charge. Unless you are installing a new outlet, you may want to consider the location. Some users may consider replacing an already existing outlet. That means the outlet may be somewhere at the back of the TV cabinet or somewhere near the floor. You wouldn’t want to leave your tiny little MP3 player on the floor, would you?
Another issue is in regards to replacing the U-Socket. Since it isn’t all too common, you won’t find it in your friendly community hardware store. FastMac will sell you a replacement for $2.99 and the manufacturer promises to provide some choices of color.
Finally, it is pricey. Despite lowering the price from $29.95 when it first came out, the USB outlet still sells for a hefty $19.95. It comes in two models: standard (White) and “Decora.” The latter is still priced at around $25.95. You surely wouldn’t catch a regular outlet priced over $10, a standard outlet can cost under a dollar.
As a side note, the company’s website has indicated that testing procedures and quality control have been delaying production and orders will take two to 4 weeks to be shipped.
What do you think of the FastMac USB outlet? Where would you add one in your home?