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Hands-On: New Belkin Conserve Power Strips

Belkin Conserve Smart AV

Thirty seconds with this product and I found myself asking why power strips haven’t been made this way for years. The idea is simple enough. The Smart AV is an 8-outlet surge strip. One outlet is the master, followed by five “master controlled” ports, and there are two non-managed ports at the end. Whenever the device running in the master port shuts off, the five slave ports shut off with it.

The “AV” in the title tips you off that this strip was meant for home theaters. You would plug your TV into the master port followed by your DVD, DVR, amplifier, or whatever else you like in the slave ports. When you’re done watching TV and want to close up shop, the whole lot turns off with one press of your regular remote’s power button. Voila! No more need for the separate remote control for the prior-gen Belkin Conserve products. And because there’s no wireless radio technology needed in this strip, the price is more reasonable than the prior generation, as well—only $29.99. I had my doubts about the Conserve Socket, but the Smart AV totally belongs with home theaters, especially knowing what 24x7 power pigs DVR set-tops can be.

The one caveat comes with setups like mine. I have an old plasma mounted over my fireplace that wires into an outlet in the center of the screen’s mounting plate. The rest of my AV equipment is set into an in-wall bookshelf, too far from the plasma to connect with the TV without running a lot of extended, very unsightly wires. So Belkin’s suggested application doesn’t quite fit me, although there could be work-arounds. For example, with a universal remote, I could program my Blu-ray player to come on every time the TV comes on. With the Blu-ray in the master socket and the universal remote configured appropriately, every time the TV goes off, the Blu-ray would go with it and thus turn off everything in the slave sockets.

I tried out the Smart AV on my test bench, planting my power supply’s cable in the master socket and my monitor, USB optical drive, and a desk lamp in the slave sockets. I also put a second lamp in a non-managed socket. I booted the system to a Windows desktop then shut it down. About three seconds after all lights on the motherboard went out, the monitor, drive, and lamp suddenly turned off (totally cut off, not in standby), but the second lamp remained on. Mission accomplished.

I could hear a tiny piece of something rattling around loose inside my Smart AV strip, but it obviously wasn’t interfering with the unit’s operation. The important thing is that this strip solves the old problem of cutting power to an entire group of devices without needing any fancy, costly extra features or having to crawl somewhere inconvenient in order to turn off the strip. Very smart. The product deserves its name.