The Fastmac USocket Revisited

FastMac-USocketSome time ago at Engadget there was a post reporting that Fastmac was about to start shipping their much delayed USocket. The USocket combines a normal wall electrical outlet with a DC power supply that feeds a pair of standard USB ports. Further, each port provides enough current to charge even heavy loads like Apple’s iPad.

I though that this device sounded like a great idea so I visited the companies web site and ordered four. That would let me put one at each night stand in the bedroom, one in my office and another in our TV room.

Near the end of January I placed the order then waited for delivery. In fact, I forgot about the order. When in mid-May I finally remembered that I had placed the order I filed a trouble report with Fastmac to inquire about its status.

The company literally never responded to my trouble report. Instead, they simply shipped the order. I did receive an email notice that the order had been both billed and shipped. Given their behavior I doubt that I’ll ever buy anything from them again.

Continue reading “The Fastmac USocket Revisited”

Notes From The Road: FastMac U-Socket Finally Shipping

It’s somehow fitting that I find myself this week in a hotel in Berkeley, California…and missing the charger for my cell phone. While I’ve been tasked with a project here in the Golden State said device seems to prefer taking a breather, recharging if you will, in my now quiet and comfortable home office. That shirker.

So, lacking a charger, I find it curious that FastMac has finally started shipping their U-Socket, an electrical outlet with built-in charger. U-Socket provides a pair of powered USB ports, which is great since so many devices have now settled on some variation of USB bus power as a charging scheme.

Claiming to provide a whopping 2.4 Amps (!) in total U-Socket has enough juice to charge four devices, supporting even heavy loads like smart phones, iPads and Mifi devices. Remember that some of these device require >700 mA to charge & operate while many USB ports are current limited to 500 mA. I wonder if FastMac has addressed the issue of parasitic power? That is, continuing to draw a meaningful amount of line power even when there is no device connected.

At $19.95 each they don’t seem too costly. Given how fond Stella has become of her Nook Color and G2 I could see these as practical for outlets near bedside nightstands in our home.

Hotels and motels the world over should take note of this device. It’s an obvious choice for such establishments…assuming that the prior safety concerns have been completely addressed.

Current Events In Cell Phones: Tales Of My Transition to Micro-USB Power

As described previously, about a month ago I bought a Blackberry 9700 cell phone to replace my vintage Blackberry Pearl. The Pearl and the Motorola Razr that preceded it both used mini-USB type connector for DC power. I had thought that this was something of a standard, but if it was I guess it was short-lived. Early in 2009 the major cell phone manufacturers all agreed to settle upon “micro-USB” as the one standard connector type for DC power in new models.

Someone once said, “the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” I suspect that it might have been Dilbert.

Continue reading “Current Events In Cell Phones: Tales Of My Transition to Micro-USB Power”