Allocacoc’s PowerCube is an interesting solution to the annoying problem you face with powerboards and power sockets: blocked by plugs, out of reach, and not a USB port in sight. So should you buy one?
You know the problem: you can’t plug in every odd-shaped plug into your powerboard without losing one or two spots. Your four-plug powerboard becomes a three plug, or even worse, just two.
(Engineering hat on here: while more and more devices contain a switch-mode power supply, and older devices having a full transformer, it’s hard to package that into something slim if the device requires a high-power draw. Overheating is a big problem for efficiency and longevity.)
The PowerCube Extended USB is really a nice design – and given it’s been developed by industrial design graduates in The Netherlands and won a Red Dot Design Award, you’d expect it to be quality.
It’s stylish, far more attractive than a standard powerboard, reasonably solid, and the cord extending from the device is a quality industrial-rated cable, rather than thin and cheap.
The gadget sitting on the Techly desk came up for more than the occasional comment, with people interested in what it is.
It’s much better for carrying with you than a standard long powerboard, which is uncompromising while travelling.
As a cube, the six sides are taken up by one cable supplying power, four AC plugs on the side, with two-port USB on the back. If you were to plug one into a typical wall duplex, you’ll have five outlets.
The USB is rated as 5V, 2.1A total. That means it’ll easily handle charging two phones, but only one tablet at a time.
The Extended model we tried came with a docking port for fastening to a work bench or table, using a double-sided adhesive strip – although doing this will block one of the cube’s four outlets. We can’t see the adhesive strip really fighting gravity for too long, especially if you’re regularly pulling plugs out of the device. While screw holes are provided, there’s no screws with the device.
Here’s our major quibble with the device: could the team have benefitted from some more electrical design? The PowerCube line – including the Extended USB tested here – don’t offer any surge suppression or power conditioning.
They do have a resetting circuit breaker which does provide limited protection, but no guarantee. Therefore, you can’t reasonably expect the PowerCube line to protect your devices from significant AC power surges or transients.
That’s mostly acceptable for people who use cheap powerboards and perhaps aren’t prone to storm activity. Generally, in Australia, if you do have high-end devices, you’ll want protection. And you’ll pay a good deal more for this, too. But if you’re just looking for convenience, especially while travelling, and you only want to take one travel adaptor, the PowerCube is very highly rated.
Officeworks have the PowerCube Extended USB for about $30, while online retailers are around the $25 mark.