Price (RRP): $29.95 for PowerCube without USB; $39.95 for PowerCube Extended with USB (review model);
Power strips tend to look the same, taking up the same bit of space with long rectangular bits of plastic that hand out power to anything plugged in, but what if you’re after something that does the same thing in a smaller package?
What is it?
There are power boards, power strips, power bars, and then there are power bricks that fall into a different category altogether.
Allocacoc’s PowerCube is that last category, with a power strip compressed into the space of a cube, or a sort of cube, because there’s a 1.5 metre extension cable out the back making it impossible to be used on that side, or even resting on that side.
The rest of the sides, however, have ports on them, and in the case of the PowerCube Extended USB, the model we’re looking at, there are four power ports for you to plug appliances and computers and gadgets in — really, anything with a power plug on it — and two USB connectors.
On the regular PowerCube model, there are in fact five power ports, with zero USB connectors.
That appears to be one of those things you get if you spend a little extra, with Aussie distributor Audion setting the PowerCube pricing at $29.95, and the Extended USB model grabbing $10 more for a recommended retail price of $39.95.
A small desk holder is included, as is some double sided tape to hold the Cube in place if you decide to stick it to some of your furniture.
Does the power strip need a change? It might do, and while we’ve seen master and slave switches brought in from some models, portable international power solutions in others, and even off-side power control for power strips in a few others, Allocacoc’s take on how to change the power strip is different again.
You see, it’s a cube.
Specifically, it is a power strip designed to look like a cube, with a power cable coming out one end and trying to pack in several ports into a smaller and more confined space, ideal if you don’t have a lot of space for a long power strip, or are looking to keep things relatively compact.
From a design point of view, Allocacoc has more or less nailed its target, because this is a cube, and it’s a cube in white with another colour being used for each of the ports. Ours was red, but we’re told they also come in grey, blue, and green, in case red doesn’t work for you.
Testing a power device is pretty simple because really you just have to find out if it works, and Allocacoc’s PowerCube does work, asking you to plug it into a wall socket and sending power to each of the four power ports found on the PowerCube.
But there are a couple of extra features worth noting, one decent, and one less so.
The decent one is what we found on the PowerCube Extended, which was the review unit we took a look at, and that is the USB ports.
Yes, you’ll find two USB ports will take the place of what would normally be the fifth power port on the regular PowerCube, and if you have several devices that need a charge, you’ll find this most useful.
The other feature that grabs us is the ability to quickly attach it to a a desk by way of a small mounting plate, which itself attaches to the desk using some sticky strips, and then connects to the PowerCube by fitting into the sides of the circular plug ports and turning the cube, locking it in place on the desk.
On the one hand, the idea is solid, much like the Cube itself, offering several power ports for you to plug in the gear, but using the desk mounting plate gives us pause for one basic reason: it takes up a port on your Cube.
Because the Cube is locked into place via the edges of one of the ports, it means you’re left with one less power port simply by attaching it to your desk, and while you get the PowerCube off the floor — handy, we know — you’ll also find the $40 small power block now only has three power ports and two USB ports.
Three ports and a pair of USB ports for a desk might be fine, but not for the $40 price, and we have to wonder why Allocacoc, the PowerCube’s designers, didn’t just make the end plug more of a right angle cable, with a snap on case that attaches to the back where the cable backs out of, so you could get access to all of your ports and leave that long power cable to do its thing anyway.
We suppose it wouldn’t be as easily called the “PowerCube” if it did this, not completely looking like a cube when attached to a desk, but it would at least bring a port back, because you shouldn’t have to lose a port if you want to attach the thing to a desk.
The other problem with the desk stand is that the whole rotation thing doesn’t work particularly well, and the connections are so tight, you’re really rotating it to keep the Cube in place under your desk, not rotating it for easy access to the ports.
We’re not designers, so it’s technically not right for us to say this, but there is probably a better way of doing this, and while it’s unlikely we’re going to see some form of ultra nifty Rubik’s Cube being applied to the PowerCube, there has to be a better way of rotating the Cube against your desk, and we suspect that it’s probably by making a proper stand, not just something you snap in and twist for the sake of, you know, being cheap, which is what we suspect the reason is here.
Finally, there’s the price, and while it’s clear that your paying a premium on design, comparing it to current power board pricing shows just how much of a premium that is.
For example, four and six port strip power boards start at around $10, and while they’re longer and don’t have desk stands, you can at least solve that last bit with some double sided tape, which isn’t too far removed from how the PowerCube connects to a desk.
Granted, those are power boards without the USB ports, but you can find four and six ports with the USB for around $30, with more amps offered through competitors and even some surge protection. We’re not sure if the PowerCube will go that far, but given the size of the box and the lack of any indicators, we’re pretty sure this also lacks surge protection, which makes that price even harder to swallow.
And that means you really are paying for the form-factor, with the cube design the main reason for charging as much as this is.
If you’re cool with that, no worries.
Make no mistake, Allocacoc’s take on the power strip is an interesting one, and its cute and portable design will definitely grab a few people keen to have something a bit different in their home.
Those people that want to lift their power from the ground will also find the Cube interesting, but be aware, it’s a fairly high cost for something that more or less amounts to some double sided tape, and that’s something you could do with any power strip.