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Crystal Audio energy saver plugs save money, placate angry polar bears

Save money, power and polar bears with Crystal Audio's smart sockets, which detect when your AV gear is in standby and switch everything off. Marvellous.

You can't open a newspaper these days without seeing a picture of a lonely polar bear sitting forlornly on a little iceberg. Climate change is a problem for arctic creatures and newspaper readers alike. But even if you don't care about Ursus maritimus you probably don't like wasting money. Crystal Audio plugs help you both, intelligently detecting when you aren't using your AV gear and switching themselves off.

Their ability to automatically detect when your gear is in standby is their most interesting and useful feature. After all, a power-saving plug is only going to save you money if you use it, and if you have to put down your dry roasted peanuts to activate it, sooner or later you're going to stop bothering.

The Crystal Audio system gets around this by learning the power load of your equipment when it's in standby. Whenever it sees the load drop to this level, it waits around 30 seconds and turns itself off.

When it's in standby mode, it uses about 50 per cent less power than a TV does in standby, so you're going to make savings straight away.

The Crystal Audio plugs are available in single and multi-way models. We tested both and found they did a terrific job. The single socket is ideal for smaller set-ups where you just want everything off or everything on. The multi-way model is useful if you have a PVR that needs to be connected and powered on at all times, for example -- it includes one socket that's always on.

The process of setting them up is incredibly simple. Plug your devices into one, then plug it into the wall and turn it on. The socket will flash an LED at you, indicating it wants to learn an IR command. This is how you switch all your equipment on, so pick a remote button that's convenient. We selected our AV receiver's power button, because that made the most sense for our setup. You could also bind this command to your TV's power button, for instance. From there, one press will turn the socket on.

Once you've done that and placed the adhesive IR receiver somewhere it can see your remote commands, you're ready to set the standby level, which is the drain amount at which the socket will shut everything off. So make sure all your equipment is on standby, and press the button again. And that's it. It takes about two minutes to do all this, and you're ready to go.

For the job they do, we couldn't ask any more of these handy plugs. They'll save you power and money, they're simple to set up, and need no real consideration once they're installed. Clever stuff!

Currently, on Amazon -- the nation's least favourite retailer after the Black Friday debacle -- you can currently get 30 per cent off each plug or multi-way socket you buy. That makes the stand-alone plug £13.93, down from £20 and £23.73 for the 4+1 socket version, down from £33. Both bargains that will pay for themselves several times over during their lifetime.

Image credit: Alan Wilson, via Wikipedia, used under the Creative Commons licence Attribution-ShareAlike.