A Power Strip for Lazy Folks
Belkin is getting good at identifying niches in the PC accessory landscape. Case in point: Its $50 ConserveSurge power strip. In most respects, it's like any other power strip/surge protector. But as far as I know, it's the first to come with a remote control. The idea is to help you save energy costs on connected devices that use standby power by making it super easy to turn the power strip off. And in case you have appliances that need to be on all the time (a clock or a DVR, for example), two of the eight outlets bypass the on-off control.
A Surge Protector for Travelers
If you frequently travel with lots of electronics, you probably take a power strip with you (hotel rooms never have enough convenient outlets). But conventional power strips can get bulky--which is why Belkin should have a winner in its $25 Mini Surge Protector. Equipped with three outlets and two powered USB recharging ports, it's compact and lightweight--a great companion to Belkin's Wi-Fi travel router (or anybody else's). Note that you can't use the USB ports for anything but recharging.
Although most products in this preview won't ship until September or October, this one's already available.
For Your Eees Only
Belkin's cases for the Eee come in several colors and materials. The top-of-the-line neoprene case (red, left), with its own shoulder strap, costs $25; a quilted polyester version (blue, center) costs $20; and a simple neoprene sleeve (pink, right) goes for $13. These bags are similar to the cases Belkin began selling last year for Dell's brightly colored laptops; they also go with Belkin's colored mice.
A USB Hub That Can Get Out of the Way
Also for notebooks: Belkin's $30 SwivelHub. This is another example of how Belkin puts its own twist--literally--on a familiar accessory. It's a four-port USB hub that swivels on the piece that goes into a notebook's USB port. Not that you can't use it with a desktop, but the idea here is to get the hub out of the way of other peripherals that would be blocked by a conventional notebook USB hub.
Keeping Cool With a Laptop
A year and a half ago, Belkin introduced a couple of products--the Cushtop and the PocketTop--designed to help people cope with the heat generated by laptops. Both basically provided heat-absorbent surfaces on which to place the laptop while you worked.
This fall, Belkin is offering a few new options for warding off laptop burn. The $50 Laptop Cooling Hub keeps the bottom of your notebook off a surface it might damage (your knees, or a wooden table, perhaps), and throws in a four-port USB hub that you activate by running a little cable (included) to an open USB port on your laptop.
Minimalist Laptop Cooling Aid
The $20 Laptop Coolstrip helps put some space between your laptop and whatever it usually rests on. It's basically a plastic slab with plastic spikes that can also serve as a cable guide.
Belkin Jumps on the Homeplug AV Bandwagon
Belkin arrives somewhat late to the party with its first adapter to support the HomePlug AV standard for powerline networking, which promises throughput over existing electrical circuitry. The first HomePlug AV products shipped over a year ago.
However, Belkin does bring some innovation to the table: It has a Homeplug AV adapter with three integrated ethernet ports, so you can hook up more than one network device to the same adapter.
Belkin plans to sell a $180 starter kit that will include both one of the adapters with three ethernet ports and another adapter with only one ethernet port.
Flywire Gets Ready to Fly
Announced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Belkin's new wireless-streaming high-def media line, Flywire, appears closer to becoming reality. The first offering, due in October for $1000, will consist of: (1) a set-top box that hooks up to your high-def video source (for example a Blu-ray Disc player or notebook drive) via an array of inputs; (2) a receiver that connects to your HD display via HDMI; and (3) a remote control.
Belkin says FlyWire will stream uncompressed video up to 100 feet (and between rooms) over the 5-GHz band--not via Wi-Fi, but via an up-and-coming wireless home technology called Wireless Home Digital Interface, or WHDI.
Upgrade Your iPod's Podcasting Chops
Belkin's $120 GoStudio targets the avid podcaster who wants to upgrade the recording capabilities of an iPod. Simply slide the iPod into the open slot on the GoStudio, and you have a vastly improved built-in mike (plus an input port if you want to use your own); built-in speakers; various audio controls; and even a tripod to mount the unit.
Running With iPod
Belkin has a line of iPod cases (leather, acrylic, nylon, silicone, and so on), but so do lots of vendors. Here's one I don't see everywhere: the Sport Armband Plus with FastFit. For $30, you get a removable sleeve that you can wear on your arm while you run, complete with a "cable capsule" to help you deal with earphones. Belkin also throws in a belt clip and key pouch.