This small desktop surge protector offers a lot of ports, but can it live up to its potential?
The only place where there is room for improvement is in the Size & Weight. But, there is a workaround that will keep you happy.
The Bottom Line
This is a fantastic companion for everyone's home office setup, and will be a positive addition if you return to the office in the future.
Where To Get It
As we are just past the 1 year anniversary of "15 days to slow the spread," our home offices are more important than ever. And, with many companies committing to allowing employees to continue remote work after offices reopen (if they reopen at all), settling into those home offices is a good move. As most of us have a phone, a tablet, and at least one computer, having a small desktop power station like the Power Cutie is going to make your life easier. And, with a price point under $40 for a desktop surge protector with 4 USB ports, this is a good investment.
The Design of the ower Cutie is nearly perfect. It's incredibly small while still providing a bunch of outlets. Plus, the placement of the outlets is well thought out. The standard power outlets, which will be larger plugs and less likely to be changed regularly, are on the sides and the back. The USB ports, which will be smaller plugs and more likely to be swapped around regularly, are on the top and front.
As the purpose of the device is Compatibility, the design is intended to support that goal. It has a small footprint, so it doesn't take up a lot of space on your desk. It's also not very tall, so it can sit behind a monitor or speaker, keeping it out of the way. But, it is also designed to look attractive, with several color options and even baseball design, so if it is put somewhere visible, it will still look good.
The biggest benefit of the Power Cutie is certainly its Convenience. Four full-power USB ports means you can charge all of your devices at once. Our tests included phones, tablets, and Qi chargers. In addition, there are 3 standard power outlets. We plugged in three laptops, plus devices into the USB ports, and experienced no power loss. When you take into consideration that seven high-draw devices all charged fine while plugged in, you can then assume that lower draw items, like speakers, will also work perfectly.
With all of this power available via a desktop device that only takes up about a 4x4" square on your desk, convenience is the name of the game. In our office, we have been regularly using to to power a tablet, several phones, an Amazon Echo Dot, and a laptop. We also plan on adding one to our review lab where we regularly have several Bluetooth speakers, phones, and headphones charging at once.
The Build Quality of the Power Cutie is very high. The joints of the injection molding are all smooth without a single rough edge to be found. Even the rims around the power ports are rounded off, with their edges molded inside of the body. This is an advanced design technique that we don't even see on high-end, expensive products.
Another area where the Power Cutie shines is in the USB ports themselves. We have addressed in previous product reviews the common issue about USB ports being overly fragile. Oten, the only thing that is holding the ports onto the board is a little solder and prayer. We have, more than once, broken a USB port off of a product (and, in one case redesigned the product to fix the defect). In the case of this product, however, the USB ports are integrated into the Design of the casing, and the mold is intended to hold them in place. This will prevent them from breaking off of the board after extended use. Being on your desk, and designed to be interchanged regularly, that stability is a big touch.
In addition to the firmness of the USB ports, the actual body is solid, as well. If this were to fall off of your desk (and let's be honest, you're going to get your foot caught on the cord at some point), it could definitely survive the tumble.
Size & Weight
While it may seem like the Size & Weight of a product like this might not be all that important, there is a problem that is caused by the weight. Usually, we complain that a product is too heavy, but not in this case. In fact, the weight is so light that a standard wall wart plug will tip it over. In our case, the power for an Amazon Echo Dot caused the device to tip backwards into the wall.
Fortunately, the company has a way to address the issue, though it is not ideal. On the bottom of the Power Cutie there are a pair of mounting holes. This allows you to put a couple of screws into your desk and hold it in place. However, the product comes with neither the mounting screws nor a template for installing screws if you already have some. The process won't be as easy as it would be if the components came in the box, but it should be easy enough if it is needed.
The size, on the other hand, is perfect. It takes up nearly no space on a desk and provides a ton of ports - far more than its small size would suggest.
The Power Cutie has a surprisingly wide compatibility. Of course, it includes three standard US power outlets (left, right, and back), so you can power anything, assuming you have the correct power cable for the device. However, it also offers four USB-A plugs (2 front, 2 top).
Often when we see surge protectors with integrated USB ports, they provide a limited amount of electricity. In the case of the Power Cutie, the USB ports provide enough power to charge 4 devices without dipping into "slow charging" mode. In fact, we managed to use four Qi chargers at once, all in full power mode. To continue stressing the system, we also plugged three laptops without any noticeable power drain.
The only real limiting factor for the device is its lack of USB-C ports. As more devices switch from USB-B to USB-C, the other end of the cables are switching quickly from USB-A to USB-C as well. As such, some of the newer phones in our collection only shipped with C to C cables, which have no value in the case of the Power Cutie. Hopefully a future model will also offer USB-C ports, either as an option or a replacement.