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Macworld 2010: Fastmac's USB-enabled wall outlet

I didn't go to Macworld in San Francisco -- something about having the world's largest ocean between me and there made the trip's cost prohibitive -- but I've been keeping tabs on the product announcements anyway. There's been quite a few things that have piqued my interest, but there hasn't been anything that I've seen that made me sit up straight in my chair and cry, "I want that. I want that NOW!"

Until now, that is. Fastmac has developed the U-Socket, a power outlet you can buy to replace the existing power outlets in your home. That doesn't sound particularly noteworthy until you note its one very enticing feature: two USB ports built right into the sides of the outlet.

I don't know about you, but I have a ton of devices that charge via USB: an iPhone, several iPods, PS3 controllers, and more. Sure, all of them will charge through one of my MacBook Pro's three USB ports, but if I'm using those for something else, it's into the wall with them, and that requires a USB power brick of some sort to take up room on my already very crowded power strips. It would be far easier to just plug them straight into the wall. With Fastmac's U-Socket, you can do exactly that, and for less than the cost of Apple's $29 USB charger -- currently the U-Socket is available for pre-order for $19.95 and is expected to start shipping in the first quarter of this year.

You will have to replace your existing power outlets yourself, but that's honestly not all that difficult to do. Personally, if I was a homeowner instead of a renter, I wouldn't hesitate to replace every outlet in my house with one of these. I'm not the only one: according to Ars Technica, Fastmac is looking at selling the U-Socket to hotels, conference centers, airports... basically anywhere business road warriors or travelling geeks with lots of gear they need to charge on the go, so even if you don't get one for your own home, you might be seeing a lot of U-Sockets in the near future.

[Via Ars Technica]

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