I remember about a year ago when FastMac teased us with this product. I'm sure they wanted to release it sooner, but they went back to the drawing board and redesigned a better product! The U-Socket is designed to replace your standard US 110V outlet with one that also has two powered USB ports. This way you can charge two standard USB devices and still have access to both outlets for other devices. I ordered three of these and while I didn't expect them until February, they surprisingly showed up yesterday. I was like a kid on Christmas day. I don't know why I was so excited to see such a simple product, but I just think these things are cool.
Before you do it yourself
Electricity doesn't really frighten me. Plumbing and Natural Gas on the other hand do. Although this device has standard electrical wiring like most outlets, it is an electrical installation and if you are the least bit squimish please please please hire a licensed Electrician to install yours. I'm not responsible if you, your devices or your house get fried! I warned you! I'm warning you again. Let a professional do it! With that said, I've been installing replacement outlets and light switches in my house for years. So I was not afraid to TURN OFF the circuit at the circuit breaker and then proceed with the installation. Although the wiring is very straight forward it took a little longer than usual. The biggest problem is that outlet is about twice the depth of a standard outlet. Yes it's designed to fit in a standard box, but it will be tight. The one that I replaced had a little plaster around the box that I had to take my time and chip away first. I also had to be more careful about how I ran the wires around the outlet itself as there is very little wiggle room. To this point I went to install the other two in a newer part of my home and the wiring was more complicated. While I could certainly do it, I would rather pay the electrician to do it as I don't feel like playing trial and error with the connections that are already in those boxes.
Once I got it installed and restored power to the outlet I couldn't wait to test it. First I tested the regular AC plugs and they worked. Then I plugged in a USB cable and my iPhone 4 and heard the familiar tone the indicated that it was charging.
What about the iPad? As you may or may not know the iPad wants 10v of USB power instead of the standard 5v required by most USB products. I expected to get the "not enough power" message when I plugged in the iPad, but to my surprise it gave me the same tone that it was charging. This is actually no different than using an older iPhone charger with your iPad. While it works, it will definitely take LONGER to charge it than the 10v power adapter that comes with the iPad So if I had to give it any strikes that would be the only one. I wish that the ports were 10v instead of 5v. Other than that I think these are really cool.
Correction: The iPad wants 10w, not 10v. FastMac notes iPad "compatibility" . So we're good here!
OLDER USB 2.0 ports only supplied 0.5 amp which would only charge an iPad while it's off or very very slowly while it's on.
Newer USB ports can supply the 1.5 amps that the iPad wants. The U-Socket has enough power at:
- 2.4A-5V USB 3.0 Power Ports @ 2400 mA (total)
- Charge 4 Devices Simultaneously
You can get the U-Socket here for about $24.