If you design machinery, you probably have to contend with tangles of industrial cables and hoses, carrying power, control signals, water, and air. So you may have little sympathy for consumers who have to manage a few cords for their computer equipment and related gadgets. But look under almost any computer desk nowadays, and you’ll likely see just how tough they have it. Power bricks jockey for position in crowded power strips. USB cables from all the peripherals form cable dreadlocks that fall behind the desk. In short, it’s a mess.At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, a few clever solutions to cord clutter emerged. Two take a mechanical approach and one truly cuts the cords.
PowerSquid Surge Protector
Anyone who has tried squeeze a transformer plug onto a powerstrip will immediately appreciate the PowerSquid’s design, which places the female plugs on flexible electrical cords. Inventor Christopher Hawker came up with his “cephalopod design” after noticing that rigid powerstrips couldn’t accommodate as many power bricks as they have open plugs. The first PowerSquids were simply power multipliers that connected up to five cords to one grounded outlet. Now, Flexity has developed advanced models that offer surge protection. They retain the squid form factor but also “have all the features you’d expect from a premium surge protector,” says Hawker. These include MOVs with joule ratings from 1020 to 3280 joules, EMI/RFI filtering, and protection for coaxial cables andphone lines. The flagship Calamari model also features two neon glowing outlets, an audible alarm, and a 360 degree rotating flat-profile male plug.For more information, visit www.flexity.net. Or visit Hawker’s design firm at www.trident-design.com for a look at his other products.
Two kinds of Cableyoyo
Cord management products often suffer from two problems. They’re bulky. And they’re ugly. The Cableyoyo from Bluelounge Design is neither. Measuring only 9 mm thick and 80 mm square, Cableyoyo works a lot like a spool of thread. Users simply wind the cord around its central hub. Once wound, the cord coils neatly within the product’s square exterior shell, which emanates from the top and bottom of the hub. This low-profile cord management system, molded from ABS, also includes a separate mounting attachment, an adhesive-backed post that snap fits into the Cableyoyo’s hub. It handles low-voltage cords up to 5 mm in diameter and comes in a variety of colors to match the aesthetics of various computer systems. Dominic Symons, who designed the Cableyoyo, has now created a brand new version designed for mobile electronics and headphone wires. At just 56 x 40 x 12 mm Cableyoyo POP fits on the back of many MP3 players, phones, and other portable electronics. It, too, works on the spool principle. But here the spool consists of a thin thermoplastic top shell and an elastomeric component that forms the hub and a suction cup that attaches the POP to the electronic device.A variety of decorative stickers are available to dress up the POP’s top surface. For more information, visit www.cableyoyo.com
Belkin CableFree USB Hub
What’s the best way to manage cables? Get rid of them. And that’s exactly what the Belkin’s CableFree USB Hub does. This wireless USB hub requires no cable to connect to the computer, thanks to thanks to its use of ultra-wideband (UWB) technology from Freescale Semiconductor. This variant of USB over UWB allows data transfer rates of just over 110 Mbps and works with existing USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices. When it ships early this spring, the CableFree USB Hub, the first based on Freescale’s UWB chipset, will give desktop computer users the freedom to place their USB devices anywhere in the room without running long cables. Laptop gain the ability to roam wirelessly with their laptop around the room while still maintaining access to their stationary USB devices. Belkin will initially offer a four-port hub that will enable connectivity for USB devices without requiring additional software. For more information, visit www.belkin.com or www.freescale.com