August 27, 2014
by Neil Turner
The folks at Allocacoc asked me to review their PowerCube range of mountable AC extension cables. Unlike regular power strips, these are cube shaped, and offer up to five sockets for plugging in AC devices. I was sent two of their products: the PowerCube Extended, and the PowerCube Extended USB.
The PowerCube Extended comes with five red sockets, all pointing in different directions. This avoids the problem of having bulky AC-DC transformers blocking adjacent sockets that other cube adaptors have. A moulded cord to plug into a wall socket leads out of the base (or whichever way you want it, as it’s a cube).
The PowerCube comes with a piece of plastic that lets you mount the cube to a wall or other surface, at the expense of one of the five sockets as it fits over the top. The plastic mount just needs a 90º turn to lock it into place, and two adhesive pads are included to attach it to surfaces. Alternatively there are also two screw holes for a more permanent fix.
The cord also includes a moveable plastic tab with a screw hole, so that you can easily hide the cable away when mounting the PowerCube.
PowerCube Extended USB
If you’re like me then the thing you plug in most frequently is your smartphone. And whilst phone manufacturers have done their best to make their AC adaptors as small as possible, it’s nice to be able to do away with one altogether. The PowerCube Extended USB is like its red brother, but one socket face is replaced with two USB ports. They output at 2.1 Amps, so they’re suitable for charging bigger devices like tablets as well as smartphones. The USB ports are on the top which means that your options for mounting are a little more limited, but for me two USB ports are more useful than one regular plug socket. I’ve mounted this one on my nightstand, and I’m sure Christine will be happy about not tripping over the power strip that I had on the floor for charging my various devices previously.
I have a couple of small criticisms of the PowerCube range. The first is the length of the cord, which is 1.5 metres (around 5 feet) for both models. This is a little on the short side, and isn’t great for people like us who live in a rented apartment with rationed plug sockets. The other is the direction of the plug sockets – whilst their differing directions are great for plugging in lots of bulky transformers, I kept ending up with some plugs upside down in a way that might stress their power cords. Perhaps in a new version of the design the plug sockets could also rotate through 90º to give a little more flexibility, although this will no doubt add to the cost.
Speaking of cost, the regular red PowerCube Extended normally sells for £22.95, but is discounted to £17.50 on Amazon right now. The grey PowerCube Extended USB is a little more expensive at the regular price of £24.99, but is also reduced to £22.95. Other suppliers are available too.
The PowerCube series also includes single cubes which can be plugged directly into a wall socket without a cord, or indeed another PowerCube, and the ‘ReWired’ variant which includes interchangeable power cords for international travel. They’ve previously won a Red Dot Design Award, and it’s easy to see why. They’re sturdy, but look good and solve a problem that I’m sure many gadget-owning people have. Whilst they are more expensive than regular power strips, by being easy to mount and, in the case of the PowerCube Extended USB, they offer USB ports that deprecate many clunky transformers. They get my recommendation.