It's taken a while, but computing has finally gotten the green message. Many of the biggest IT vendors now ensure that they are being environmentally friendly in terms of the recyclablity of both components and packaging of the products they sell. But are you doing your bit once you get that kit home and plug it in? Perhaps more to the point, as well as wasting precious energy are you paying more than you need to when it comes to powering your tech?
The chances are that, like most of us, you could do more to help the environment and save money at the same time simply by driving a stake through the heart of vampire power. Vampire what now, I hear you asking? Vampire power is the new term being applied to the energy drain caused by electronics which remain plugged in when not in use, wasting precious electricity and dripping money down the drain when in standby mode. Research suggests that the average home something like 10% of the electricity bill pays for such vampire power.
The answer should be pretty simply, namely switching everything off instead of putting into standby mode when you are not using it. Unfortunately, with the amount of technology that the average home has and the fact that power sockets are often hidden behind furniture or other awkward to get at places, most of us find this far too much trouble to bother with.
Which is why clever folk invented those socket extensions which turn themselves off when your kit is put into standby mode, sensing the drop in voltage and acting accordingly. Here comes another unfortunately, I'm afraid. These often don't work quite as expected, and I've experienced problems ranging from all-or-nothing syndrome (where everything plugged into the extension is shut down when whatever is connected to the 'master' plug goes into standby) to not-now-you-idiot syndrome (where a TV set gets shut down just because the screen has blacked out during a Blu-ray content download or some dramatic moment in a film).
So I was rather surprised to finally get my hands on a vampire power killer which I have naturally named Buffy, although it's actually called the iGO Power Tower, that does the job properly. My first surprise was the fact that this thing actually looks good, the black and green livery and clutter reducing tower design with hidden cable organizer providing an aesthetic form to the undoubted functionality of the design. It's not too big (3.9" x 5.3" x 11.5") and the mains cable is long enough at six feet to allow positioning pretty much where you want it.
The eight, count them, surge protected power outlets (and two surge protected USB ports for charging mobile devices) ensure there's enough to go around. Better yet, as odd as this may sound considering this review is extolling the benefits of going green, half of them are 'always on' outlets which do not switch things off in standby. This means that I can happily connect my Sky TV viewing box and anything else I might not want to be turned off, such as a router for example. The remaining four outlets come equipped with iGo green technology. These automatically switch off when the device plugged into them goes into standby and feature an instant wake-up button so there is no noticeably delay when you want to power them back up. iGo promises to reduce your standby power drain by up to 85%. there's even a fully resettable circuit breaker so that you can easily recover from overloads without having to change a fuse or, worse, send the unit back to the manufacturer for a replacement under some 'for life' guarantee system. Oh, and I love the fact that four of the outlets rotate by 90 degrees, which means that all those different sizes and shape of power plugs can be happily accommodated. That's something else that has bugged me about other solutions, the fact that if you have some mega-power plug attached to a couple of devices they block adjacent sockets and reduce the functionality of the thing.
So there you have it, your very own Buffy sitting in the corner of the room and making sure your pocket and the planet do not suffer at the hands of vampire power. Nice!