1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Innovative Features in a Surge Protector
, March 31, 2013
I own a couple of rack-size surge protectors for the various equipment in my home including two Monster Power Reference PowerCenter and a Belkin PureAV. I was pretty excited to find another company that wants to be a major player in the rack-size surge protector niche market.
Interesting also is the fact that the parent company, Audiovox, decided to offer this line under a formerly renowned speaker company, Acoustic Research. Which in a very small way makes sense because AR used to be respected in the audio industry that offered innovations in speaker technology.
The PW1000 Home Theater Power Station is their top-of-the-line model and has pretty interesting features not found in other surge protectors of the supposed caliber.
A. INNOVATIVE FEATURES:
1. 5-port Ethernet Switch (4 in the rear including 1 IN, 3 OUT, and a 4th OUT in the front)
- This is a very interesting feature to include a switch in a surge protector because everyone's typical setup these days in a home theater rack includes internet connectivity.
Acoustic Research has not only supplied an ethernet switch for the sake of building one, but they supplied the fastest available Gigabit Ethernet for the demanding streaming of large audio and video data.
I really love this idea. I can ideally let go of my Cisco switch connected to my home theater components. However, I need more than three ports at the back for a permanent LAN port and similar users will eventually have to provide their own stand-alone switch. Case in point all my current devices that are connected to my 8-port switch - a Smart TV, A/V Receiver, Home Server, Blu Ray player, Game Console, and Digital Box all utilize the ethernet. So I've almost maxed out my Cisco switch.
Still I have to give credit to Acoustic Research for having ports built-in which I assume is more than enough for a typical household and one they will surely appreciate. Otherwise, if they have a 4-port router, then this 4-port expansion will be very much needed as well.
Limitation on this is that this is a straight up unmanaged switch. I do not see any documentation that this has incorporated QoS (Quality of service) to help manage the flow of data hungry devices.
Acoustic Research should have gone another step forward by offering PoE (Power Over Ethernet) for future proof of this device.
So FOUR STARS on this aspect.
2. SPEEDPASS quick connect front panel connection.
Another "why didn't they think of that" feature you wish you could have used a long time ago on your previous surge protectors. Instead of having to pull out your equipment and search for connections through the wire clutter, they have built a feature for plugging wires on the front panel. Useful for portable devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones) that are transported from room to room and even guests that want to connect to your home theater. AR didn't pull any stops on this one, they definitely equipped it with all possible existing "practical" connections - HDMI, USB, Digital Coax, Mini Stereo 3.5mm jack, Coax Audio, Video, and component connections.
All in all 5 sets of SpeedPass connections you can route to your A/V Receiver or TV. Acoustic Research has done extensive discussion on this feature in their user guide explaining what the feature is all about and how exactly to make the connections.
I can see normal users who aren't adept at making multiple connections may get confused and blame the failure on AR's surge protection device rather than on their wiring. This can be especially confusing when you incorporate an A/V Receiver where you have to ensure that the connections on the SpeedPass side are correctly done on the Receiver side AND THEN you make the selection ACTIVE so the receiver will output what you have just connected to your TV and/or speakers. If you haven't labeled them correctly, you may end up frustrated trying to guess what input selection on the receiver to make active. A/V Receivers these days have the ability to rename the connections. I would suggest when going this route, to take the time to rename so you know what selection to make active.
This feature deserves FIVE STARS.
3. FRONT PANEL POWER AND CHARGING
Acoustic Research has provided four outlets for temporary power and charging of devices - 2 AC and 2 USB with one port being 2.1A useful for power hungry devices like tablets, and one port being 1A for typical smart phones. You will face with this limitation once you start charging AND using the device at the same time.
The 2.1A port is indeed useful to meet existing and future devices as old USB ports only supply 0.5A and newer ones just supply 1A. It is also worth noting that the 2.1A port has a selector switch to ensure compatibility across existing manufacturers. Switch A is optimized for Apple devices. Switch B for regular USB devices, and Switch C optimized for Samsung tablets. The user guide explicitly cautions that you set this switch BEFORE you plug in your chosen device. Don't go through the switch while the device is plugged.
There is no further explanation documenting this selection switch. I assume it's due to Apple and Samsung's proprietary connectors and power requirements of their respective tablets that they have "optimized" the USB outlet towards the manufacturer.
FIVE STARS on this feature.
B. TYPICAL FEATURES:
4. A pretty good selection totaling 10 AC outlets - 6 switched and 2 always on in the rear plus another 2 always on in the front useful for charging portable devices if you don't want to use the front USB port route.
FIVE STARS for having adequate outlets which is typical for it's size.
5. An actual SWITCH for the 6 switched outlets in the rear. Monster Power and Belkin PureAV both have incorporated similar switches in the front panel to control the power of the switched outlets and one that definitely makes sense especially for those that have power-hungry devices even on stand by mode. You want to kill the power supply on these ones until you need to power them up.
My complaint here is the simple style switch typical of low end equipment. I agree it gets to the point, but if they are late in the game in providing surge protectors for home theaters then I would suggest they take design cue inspiration from Monster Power, to say the least, which uses a simple all metal ON/OFF switch that takes it to a higher level. Acoustic Research uses the rocker ON/OFF switch which I admit is very effective, but also too tacky for the price tag they are offering this surge protector.
6. 2 pairs of IN/OUT SAT/CABLE ports.
Two pairs is more than any one will need especially if they have only one cable box per room. FIVE STARS.
7. SIZE - This thing reminds me of two pairs of Belkin PureAV PF30 stacked on top of each other. It has two rows to accommodate the numerous AC and mixed SPEEDPASS outlets it has been equipped with. It looks hefty in build, but I do find it a bit lightweight for the feature it's supposed to be packed with.
8. QUALITY - When I was unpacking it I heard something loose jiggling inside as I was tilting the device every which way. Reminded me of when UPS delivered my Monster Power Reference surge protector across the country and it came to me with components all jiggling inside which obviously was mishandled and dropped from a significant height.
I thought this Acoustic Research was a goner from the start as well, but after seeing the simple screws that the outer body is attached it was a no-brainer to take the shell out and peep what exactly was loose inside. Lo and behold there was a small silver metal from the remnants on soldering of the wires that was moving about freely inside. Now this can be a very dangerous thing as if it does come into contact with live wires it can produce a short that can either damage the device itself and the equipment it was meant to protect.
I have taken a photo and will be contacting the company to have them identify this manufacturing quality aspect.
Also, the outer metal covering is a simple lightweight structure reminiscent of home-made electronics. It is easy to flex and there isn't much backbone to it that putting the screws back together meant having to massage the outer shell back into shape to the screws attach properly.
The front panel is also all plastic that I find too thin that there isn't much substance when feeling it. A thicker plastic would have helped or even aluminum front fascia to give it more class so it can play with the big boys that you can proudly display among your home theater equipment rack.
For the build quality aspect, I have to sadly give it THREE STARS.
There are useful LED light indicators all over the front panel:
- power indicator - to let you know the device is connected to an outlet
- protected indicator - to let you know the outlet it is connected to is properly grounded
- ethernet lights - power, in port, four out ports that blink to indicator network activity
- a blue LED light that turns on whenever you open the front panel door
What's only missing is a light indicator to let you know the switched outlets are turned ON.
Because of this FOUR STARS for the above features.
I would not hesitate recommending and purchasing this surge protector. It meets the requirements of typical home these days. If this came out years earlier it might seem to be an overkill, but in reality it is exactly what a household needs these days. Almost everyone has a home theater to accommodate the high definition picture and sound of all their devices.
If the build quality is made better, the price is justifiable. Perhaps a beefier metal chassis and a front aluminum panel. Better ethernet port specs with PoE and QoS features to demand it's current pricing.
Despite that if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't mind having this as part of my home theater devices if it was my first rack-size surge protector.
Kudos to Acoustic Research and Audiovox for introducing a game-changer in the market. Can't wait to see a better "reference series" with improved specs and build quality to get back into the A/V game.