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Belkin travel powerstrip combines surge protection, USB charging

The Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger may be the ideal travel power accessory.

Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger
Power three devices--plus two USB products--with this portable surge protector.

You'd think that the design for power strips and surge protectors would be pretty much played out, but Belkin has actually done some pretty interesting things with them in recent years: clamp-on models, ones that hide all of the wall warts, and even the forthcoming Conserve, an eco-friendly model that truly shuts off connected devices at the touch of a wireless remote.

The company is taking that spirit of innovation on the road with its latest power product: the Belkin Mini Surge Protector. The travel-friendly model packs three grounded three-prong power outlets and two powered USB ports into its tiny frame, and plugs directly into the wall socket, so there's no dangling cord. A green LED confirms that connected devices are protected against surges, which Belkin backs with a $75,000 warranty. In other words, this one miniature power strip should be able to power and protect your laptop, iPod, and cellphone--and still have space left over for connecting two other AC-powered devices. Belkin even throws in a mini-USB cable, which will work with many brands of cellphones. Yes, laptop-toting travelers can usually use the spare ports on their computer to juice up various mobile devices. Considering that the device is slated to cost less than $25, the Belkin Mini Surge Protector looks to be a worthwhile combination of the Monster Power Outlets To Go (see related hands-on review) and Belkin's Dual USB Power Adapter. Like that latter model, we wish Belkin would include more USB ports, since the list of USB-powered devices--phones, Blackberrys, iPods, the Nintendo DS, PSP, and Bluetooth headsets--is seemingly endless.

You might see the Belkin Mini Surge Protector already available for preorder on some online stores, but the company says that it should be widely available "in office superstores" by the end of April.