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Review: Bits Limited Smart Strip

March, 2009



Bits Limited Smart Strip $43.95





Review by Steve Douglas

Keeping yourself afloat financially while the economy tanks is not easy to do. Every bit saved, however, does help and the Bits Limited Smart Strip offers both lower power bills and protection for your computer and home theater equipment at the same time. This is not your everyday $10.95 power strip. The Smart Strip supplies ten outlets, which can work together switching your computer and associated devices on and off automatically. This saves you money in the long run as, even though computer peripherals and other components are shut off, they are still drawing power and running up the energy costs. For a business or studio, with several people coming and going, power usage probably adds up to a major amount of money spent on the electric bill. At the end of the year, accessories that were never even used have probably taken up a significant part of those bills.

Of course, despite the money saving features of the Smart Strip, it is the protection to your equipment it offers that makes it so necessary.

Most inexpensive strips found in offices are usually rated to around 900-1000 joules. I own many of them, and on closer inspection, most do not even list the level of protection that is offered. In addition, there have recently been several news reports on broadcast television focusing on the many bogus and completely ineffective 'surge protectors' on the market which actually offer no protection and only serve to provide additional outlets. These lead to a false sense of security and possible disaster to home and equipment when a surge or spike occurs. The joule-suppression rating of any power strip refers to its ability to absorb and dissipate a surge/spike of AC current as heat (without failing). A higher joule rating means the power strip can take a higher quantity of more powerful surges before it finally fails. As with most other quality surge suppressors, the SmartStrip is designed to sacrifice itself to save your equipment if it cannot simply absorb and dissipate. To this end, the SmartStrip is guaranteed for life against any damage caused by power surges. Also- there is a 2-year full warranty and your connected equipment is protected with a $30,000 warranty against surge damage. All are very important points when comparing to other surge protectors.

The Smart Strip protects your equipment with 2875 joules of surge and spike protection. This protection, in joules, is divided between its live to neutral, live to ground and neutral to ground capabilities. The amount of protection provided is not divided out evenly between the 3 suppression components. What appear to be different levels of protection is only a technicality in the required design of any surge suppressor. The suppression components are arranged to handle a surge or spike on each electrical rail, ground, neutral, and live/hot, because a spike can travel between any pair of them. The total joule rating of the strip is obtained by summing the value of each of these protections.

The Smart Strip's 84,000 amp capability provides 3-way 330 volt protection in a similar way to the joules it can handle with 36,000 amps live- neutral, 24,000amps live-ground and 24,000 amps neutral-ground. This indicates how many amperes of current the Smart Strip can handle before failing. A household circuit is usually only 15 or 20 amps, but the circuit breakers inside your electric panel take relative ages to respond- at least in relation to the reaction time of the solid-state protection inside the Smart Strip. So for a few nanoseconds, the Smart Strip will easily handle any excessive current caused by a surge or spike- until your household circuit breaker has time to react and cut all power and current from the circuit.

The Smart Strip comes with a recessed, lit power switch accompanied by a status indicator letting you know that all is well or that you may have a problem within your wiring. Those who live in older houses should remember that many of the homes built in the 1950s and 60s had different grounding techniques than the modern house today.

The Smart Strip unit's ten outlets consist of one controlling outlet, 6 switched outlets, which will automatically turn off when not in use, and 3 hot outlets for anything that must stay on 24/7 like a cable box or digital video recorder. The spacing of the outlets leaves plenty of room for those nasty power blocks that prevent you from using all the outlets on so many strips. Each type of outlets is very clearly marked as to what type of outlet it is so you shouldn't have to worry about making a mistake plugging in the wrong device to the wrong outlet. And this is where your money is saved, as the Bits Smart Strip uses zero power when the switched outlets are off. And less than 1 watt when fully energized.

In addition to its' 6' heavy duty power cord, the Smart Strip offers protection outlets for your fax and phone as well as your cable box, modem and most anything else you might want to protect. I've made the point before and will make it again. To be penny wise and pound-foolish is just that, foolish. We all have a great deal of money invested in expensive computers and home theaters. The Bits Smart Strip, for a very reasonable cost, offers excellent protection of your equipment, cost savings on the energy bill and peace of mind that you, your home and equipment are protected.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and productions for National Geographic and the History channels. Steve is also feature writer for Asian Diver Magazine and is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition. He is available for both private and group seminars for Final Cut Pro and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Micronesia for the Manta Fest in 9/09, the Red Sea and Egypt for Nov.2009, Truk Lagoon and Yap in Micronesia for July, 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.

copyright © Steve Douglas 2009

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