The Gizmo Report: Monster Power's Outlets To Go

A quick review of Monster Power's Outlets To Go OTG400

Peter Glaskowsky
Peter N. Glaskowsky is a computer architect in Silicon Valley and a technology analyst for the Envisioneering Group. He has designed chip- and board-level products in the defense and computer industries, managed design teams, and served as editor in chief of the industry newsletter "Microprocessor Report." He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.
Peter Glaskowsky
3 min read

I usually carry a cheap extension cord when I travel-- the kind you'd get at a hardware store, with a three-wire plug and three outlets molded in plastic at the other end. Hotel rooms often hide outlets behind the bed, and sometimes all of the outlets are in use; even a very short extension cord can solve these problems.

But on my last few trips, I've been dissatisfied with the cord I've been carrying around, and I've had my eye open for a better one. I just got one, and it looks pretty good. It's the Outlets To Go OTG400 from Monster Power, one of the many brands of Monster Cable.

I'm not entirely happy with Monster. I think the company sometimes grossly overstates the technical advantages of its products. Especially with digital audio and video connections, a cable either works or it doesn't, and even cheap cables are often an order of magnitude better than necessary to produce 100% perfect results. I think that when a company spends more to improve quality or longevity it deserves to earn higher profits, but unsupportable technical claims are beyond the pale as far as I'm concerned.

Whatever the excesses of its marketing department, however, Monster's engineers deliver good quality. The company is also innovative; some of its products are basically unique. I have a couple of Monster Power's power strips meant for media centers. They were reasonably priced and came with features I couldn't find elsewhere, like three channels of surge suppression for cable or satellite TV and antenna connections.

This little Outlets To Go gizmo is just what I needed. It has a low-profile right-angle plug, so it'll go into a standard wall outlet even if a piece of furniture is located right in front of it. The plug glows a faint blue when the outlet is live. The cord is only a foot long and wraps up neatly when not in use. The contoured body of the power strip is only six inches long, two inches wide, and just over an inch thick. There are two outlets on each side, spaced two and a quarter inches apart so power bricks likely won't bump into each other. There's even a 10-amp circuit breaker inside. The total weight is just under six ounces.

What would I change? The cord should leave the plug at an angle, instead of straight out to the side (let's say it should point to 7 o'clock instead of 9 o'clock). The plug should be smaller and thinner than the present 0.7". A flip-up bail would help when removing the plug from a crowded outlet. The body should be about an inch shorter and a half-inch narrower, the faces should be flat to help support longer power bricks, and I'd rather see it molded in rubber rather than the present hard plastic. One or two of the outlets should be rotated 90 degrees, since some power bricks mount sideways. Most importantly, this kind of device really needs an internal surge suppressor. It doesn't have to be all that beefy, but a little would go a long way.

But while I'm waiting for an even better gizmo, this one will do fine.