Bits Limited Smart Strips:
Review by Kevin Steele
As a very happy owner of a Smart Strip, I recently re-visited the Bits Limted web site while surfing (yes, only a true MAME-cab junkie surfs power strip sites! ;-). I was pleased to see several new versions of the Smart Strip on the site, and I contacted Bits Limited about the possibility of reviewing one of them, the LBG1 “Brownout Protector.”
I was pleased to hear back from Russell Barton at Bits Limited that not only could they provide an LBG1 for review, but they also had a “next generation” LCG4 Smart Strip almost ready for release that they would let me review as well. I always love new gadgets, and this was intriguing.
Why These Things Are Cool
At first glance, the Bits Limited Smart Strip appears to be a fairly ordinary surge suppressor. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice banks of power outlets: six marked “automatically switched outlets,” three marked “constant hot outlets,” and one marked “control outlet.”
The Smart Strip’s claim to fame is that “control outlet.” Rather than having the power switch on the Smart Strip control all of the outlets, the Smart Strip monitors one special always-on outlet (called the “Control Outlet”). When it detects a load on that outlet (i.e., the device plugged into that outlet has turned on), it activates all of the “switched outlets” on the power strip. This allows you to use one device to control the power for an entire group of devices.
If you’ve got a MAME cab, the Smart Strip is the ideal power management solution. Pushing one button to turn on the PC can also turn on the monitor, speakers, and marquee lighting. Turn off the computer, and everything else shuts down as well. No custom home-made power switch solution is necessary, and you have the added benefit of actually having some surge suppression for your cabinet’s electronics.
There are a lot of nice touches on these powerstrips, including the unique 45-degree plugs (which allows for two of the low-profile plugs to plug into the same outlet), and the extra-wide spacing of some of the outlets to allow for transformer “bricks.”