PC TrickleSaver Review
By Gabriel Torres on September 2, 2009
Some time ago we published an interesting article called How Much Power Do Electronic Equipment Consume When in Standby Mode?, where we discovered that some external peripherals like speakers do consume energy when theoretically turned off or when they are in standby mode. Some manufacturers released products to address this issue and one of them is PC TrickleSaver from TrickleStar, which is connected to one USB port from the computer and shuts down automatically all your external peripherals when your PC is off, coming with an appealing USD 16.95 MRSP.
Optionally the manufacturer, TrickleStar, offers an optional wired remote control called PC TrickleSwitch (USD 9.95 MRSP), so you can turn off the peripherals connected to PC TrickeSaver even when the PC is turned on. Since it uses a USB port to detect if the computer is on or off, PC TrickleSaver cannot be used to shut down components from your home theater system. For this application the manufacturer offers another product, TV TrickleSaver (USD 19.95 MRSP), that has a current sensor that detects whether your TV set is on or off, turning on or off all the other equipment you may have like video game consoles, Blu-Ray and DVD players, etc.
The product itself is very simple, as you can see in Figure 2. It has only three cables: one to be connected to the wall, one to be connected to the computer USB port and one to be connected to the peripheral you want to control. If you have more than one external peripheral – which is certainly the case – you will need to connect PC TrickleSaver to a power strip or surge protector where they are installed.
Of course if your computer is connected to the same power strip or surge protector that your peripherals are connected to, you will need to remove it and connect it directly on the wall. Because that the presence of just one AC outlet can be seen as a negative point if you are worried about protection and want your PC and your peripherals to use surge protectors. With PC TrickleSaver you will need two surge protectors, one for your PC and another one for your peripherals. You probably already have one that is currently being used to feed everything, so you will need to buy another surge protector for your PC, which means an extra cost.
Since it uses the USB port to sense if the computer is on or off, you need to completely shut down your PC for the device to work. Putting your computer under sleep/hibernation mode won’t trigger the product and thus your external peripherals will still be turned on.
In Figure 3, you can see the optional remote switch that you can use to turn your peripherals on and off independently of the current status of your PC. It is installed between the PC USB port and the PC TrickleSaver USB cable.
PC TrickleSaver competes with products like Conserve Power Strip from Belkin and Bye Bye Standby and even though we haven’t posted a formal review from these products we use them on a daily basis, so we know the pros and cons from each product.
The main difference between those competitors and PC TrickleSaver is that they come with a wireless remote control. The advantage of the reviewed product is that you don’t need to press any button after turning off your PC to shut down all peripherals – with PC TrickleSaver you don’t need to remember to turn off the peripherals, the product will do this for you.
On the other hand the requirement of a USB port makes PC TrickleSaver compatible only with computers. The manufacturer, however, offers TV TrickleSaver for other applications, in particular your media center.
Belkin Conserve Power Strip has as an advantage over both Bye Bye Standby and PC TrickleSaver coming with an integrated power strip. On the other hand, this product is more expensive.
And the advantage of Bye Bye Standby over the other two is that each remote control has three sets of on/off switches, allowing you to control up to three AC outlets, so you can have individual switches for each peripheral or equipment, what can be an advantage for some users.
Here is a summary of what we found about PC TrickleSaver: