Start the New Year Right
Whether it resides in the living room or the office, we've all seen a rat's nest of wires, cords and cables, accumulated after months of buying, tinkering, playing, and working. As much as we may want to, we don't live in a completely wireless world, yet. Make the best of it by learning a few tricks to keep your data and power cords organized and pleasant to look at. You'll make your own life easier, and calm the frustrations of your family. This year, let's get cable management right. Not all of the products here will work for you, but one of them might
Cableyoyo$4.95Every once in a while, a gadget will ship with a retractable USB cable. Why doesn't every manufacturer think of that? Bluelounge's Cableyoyo creates a snappy retractable cord mechanism from any electronics cord, even those unnecessarily long 6-ft ones . It comes in black, silver, and white, to match old Macs, new Macs, and most PCs, and can adhere to your computer (or any other space where you'd like to stick a cord). Eliminating the extra length of a charger or USB cord goes a long way towards freeing up space and ruling out tangles.
WirepodThis item might only exist conceptually, for now, but we're sure that if enough people like the look of it, it will enter mass production. The Wirepod looks like a bunch of curled rubbery ribbon, but its really a pretty power strip. The three-pronged tip plugs into the wall, and branches out into three sockets, each on its own flexible extension. You can lay the extensions out any way you like and arrange them artfully. The philosophy here is: If you can't hide the power strip, at least make it attractive.
SocketDeerDoh! A deer: The perfect solution to charger cables littered all over the floor. This Japanese company has created the rubberized outlet cover SocketDeer to protect chargers in its elevated antlers. The phone can sit in the antler cradle, while the charger plugs into the outlet. The cable can wrap over the antlers, too, so it doesn't drag on the ground in a messy pile.
Belkin Mini Surge
Belkin Mini SurgeAn excellent cord-wrangling solution for travel, Belkin's Mini Surge let's you carry one USB power adapter instead of several while you're on the road. Yes, this product also buys you additional power outlets and surge protection for your hotel room or even an airport lounge. There are three power outlets and two powered USB ports included. The Mini Surge can rotate against a wall outlet so that you don't block the other plug ports.
Woofy$250The price on this plastic pup is out of control, but if you're in need of cutesy cord control, you might be interested in Woofy. This 19-inch wide doggy stores cables in his belly, and let's them out through his back foot.
The Wireless Office
The Wireless OfficeThe October 9 episode of Web video program DL.TV featured pictures from an anonymous viewer in Seattle who wanted to show off the unthinkable: a wireless office. Click here to watch the video. All of his cables are routed through PVC piping that create the structure of his desk and bring the wires to the power outlet. Above and under the desk, there are no wires showing. An intense do-it-yourself project.
The Cable Box
The Cable BoxThis 15.6-inch plastic box serves the exact same function as Woofy, but this one is only $29.50. Sure, its not as cute as the $250 plastic puppy, but you can place your entire power strip, along with all the lose cables, inside this box and hide it from view.
Rotating Electrical Outlet$10Loosen up a tight spot with a rotating power outlet. This place takes ten minutes to install, but once you've done it, you can fit two boxy power adapters that never seem to fit anywhere else since you'll be able to set them at angles instead of directly on top of each other. Sometimes, a bit of wiggle room can go a long way.
Hang On Outlet Concept
Hang On Outlet ConceptThis one doesn't exist yet, but it certainly should. How many times have you yanked a power cord out of an outlet (to save electricity, or make room, temporarily, for a different device), only to have it lie there on the floor, getting in a tangled mess and causing people to trip over it? It is just not safe. A far better way is obvious: just hook the un-needed cord on the outlet itself while it waits its turn. Somebody, make this, quick!
SocketSense$30Some of the products in this round-up are wacky. This one is purely practical. Why use a normal power strip, when you can use one that stretches (from 13 to 16 inches) to fit any power cord configuration you can come up with? For some people, the best part will be the way this surge protector looks--completely normal, with six slots.
PowerSquid Surge3000 Calamari Edition
PowerSquid Surge3000 Calamari Edition$60Where the SocketSense looks like a completely normal way to upgrade your beige surge protector to include more odd-shaped power adapters, the PowerSquid is freaky-looking. But it makes a whole lot of sense. It glows blue under a dark desk so you can see what you are doing. Its flat plug lets you insert it behind furniture. It manages your cable and DSL lines. And the best part: each socket exists on its own independent tentacle. Nothing gets in its way.
Brother P-Touch Labeler
Brother PT-1400$99Sometimes, the toughest part about organizing cables can be identifying what's what. With this P-Touch label printer, you can print up labels designed to wrap around electronics cords. Called "Flexible ID tape," these labels feature rotated text and built-in templates.
Picket FenceThe designer of this product hasn't yet found a manufacturer, but if you're interested, he'd be happy to speak with you. Here's the gist: Why not run long wires around the baseboards of your home? Instead of stapling them to the wall, prop them up with a cute picket fence so you can manipulate them.
Kangaroom Wall Mountable Charging Station$40 A charging station for the whole family. Always know where your phones, cameras, and other devices are by tucking a power strip into this box (out of sight), and mounting the box on the wall (in plain sight). If this is where your gadget lives, you'll never lose it or its power cord.