Keep your eye open for the EcoStrip.

Now here’s a good idea. It’s called the EcoStrip and it’s your standard power strip for use with your computer that has a neat addition to it. It plugs into one of your PC’s USB ports so it can tell when you turn off your PC at which point it kills power to anything else plugged into the strip.

If your desk is like mine then you have at the least a set of powered speakers and one or more monitors plugged in that continue to draw power after you’ve shut off your PC. Standby modes don’t tend to eat a lot of power, but when you’ve got several of them and then you multiply that by all the other people who have them then those little bits of current add up pretty quickly. This little strip would help to eliminate at least some of that waste.

It’s not available in the U.S. yet, but it will be soon so keep an eye open for it. I plan on picking up three myself once they’re available.

Via Everything USB.

15 thoughts on “Keep your eye open for the EcoStrip.

  1. Whats wrong with a normal strip with a turnoff button? I have a main strip that I turn off when the PC gets turned off (one additional flick of the wrist) which also turns off a subsidiary strip (which is off most times any way, because it powers the scanner and other rarely used things). I can see that its slightly better, because you can shutdown-and-forget (fire-and-forget-wise) but I fail to see the genius…

  2. Never said it was genius, just said it was a good idea. There’s nothing wrong with a normal strip if you’re the sort to remember to flick it off and it’s within easy reach. Mine is behind my desk in a spot where it’s not easy to reach and I’m the sort not to think about it most of the time.

    Anything that makes it easier for me to do something good is, well, a good thing in my book.

  3. It looks like a great idea, since my powerstrips are sometimes on the floor or even behind desks and not easily reached, and thus easily forgotten.  I have however had some problems in the past with Windows simply losing track of USB devices. I can’t explain it, but I’ve had my mouse, printer and flash drives all suddenly “disappear” from the OS for no obvious reason. 

    This has happened to me multiple times on multiple computers but always with WinXP Pro, so I am leaning toward it being a Windows problem and not a hardware issue.  I don’t know though, are USB hubs highly susceptible to failure?

    With my experiences with USB devices simply stopping, I’d be a little concerned that suddenly the powerstrip would stop being recognized then everything would shut down (including the PC I assume) when the power cuts.

  4. I’ve only ever experienced USB devices just disappearing after a crash of some sort. I use a USB mouse and keyboard so I’d notice if stuff just disappeared regularly.

    Then again, I don’t use a USB hub of any kind.

  5. Bog B,
    I haven’t run into the lost USB issue on XP Pro, but, like Les, I don’t run through a hub.  Have your failures mostly occurred with hubs?  Or maybe same mobo manufacturer?

    As for after a crash of any sort, I reboot.  Usually b/c I’m wanting to still use the crashed app, which generally won’t work right until after a reboot.

  6. At home I use the USB ports built in to the motherboard (admittedly, they are USB 1.0 and the board is quite old), as well as an additional two port add-on card I salvaged from another PC and connected to the board, AND a seperate 4 port external hub.  I double and triple checked the power reqs on all of it, and I even switched up for a bigger power supply.  It doesn’t happen all the time, but occasionally, my mouse and printer, which are hooked in the main motherboard ports will simply disappear.

    At work, we have a bunch of custom built Dell P4 machines.  They have 4 on-board USB ports, all 2.0 and altogether the machines are fairly new.  There, we sometimes just lose USB mouse and keyboard functionality.  I haven’t really taken the time (or had the time) to look into it though, so whether its hardware or OS/drivers, I don’t know.  I probably should look into it for the work problem though, since I am the “hardware” guy in my department.  We’ve found that unplugging and re-plugging the device usually does the job, Windows recognizes the “new” hardware and goes through the plug and pray process, and we have functionality restored in a few seconds.

  7. Wish they’d make one that just had a master outlet for a TV or computer, and when power drain went below 15 watts, it would turn off all the other outlets.  No USB required and it would work with the standby mode of most devices by turning associated devices all the way off.

    (My TV loses all its channel programming if you cut power to it)

  8. The USB signal is just used to switch a relay that powers up the strip.  It doesn’t connect to the ac lines. 

    I’d just make a relay box that takes a signal from the computer to trip a power relay on for an outlet that you’d then plug your existing power strip into.  Plus one that’s “always on” for the computer.
    In order of: WallPlug—breaker—PwrSwitch—Outlet—USB_Relay—Outlet

    I mean, I did spend time shopping for my surge strip and it has features I wanted that the ecostrip may or may not have.

  9. I have to say that for myself, there’s only two of the items in the picture I’d plug into it – the monitor and speakers.  Now, if the scanner was my old SCSI, yeah then that would have been a GENIUS idea.  I would usually remember to scan something AFTER I booted up, so scanning chores would pile up.  Basically I had to pile my stuff to scan on the keyboard so I would remember to turn it on first.

  10. Sounds like a great idea to me. I’m the type not to think of this either, and it would certainly help me out.

    One problem with this, mobo batteries will need to be replaced more frequently. As the mobo draws power from the oulet and not the battery in the mobo if possible. With power strip turned off mobo will only have battery to draw power from. Not really a big issue though as mobo batteries will last awhile.

    For Bog Brother:
    Check the last post of this link and see if it helps:
    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.computer/browse_thread/thread/d82432e37923d218/6364911f977989a6

    Some other questions on the issue:
    Are there any error messages and event IDs given in event viewer?
    Does it seem to happen after the system is sleeping or in some other state?
    Is there any action that seems to make the USB devices disappear?
    Is the PCI USB card 2.0?
    If everything runs from the hub and PCI USB card does the problem still occur?
    Does removing the PCI USB card are running everything from mobo and hub make problem disappear?

  11. Thanks for the suggestions on isolating the problem.  I honestly didn’t think to check the event viewer…I feel pretty red-faced even admitting it.  As for the rest, I’ll look at the thread when I get a minute after I get home.

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