DOET #13: Belkin Surge Protector USB Charger

Today I analyze my Belkin Mini Surge Protector/USB Charger:


[first impression]

I bought this several years ago to more efficiently use my outlets and to simplify charging my devices while travelling. The first things that stood out to me was its elegant three-outlet and two-USB plugins, modern white and gray design, and great value (They sell on Amazon for <$12!). [usability] I can't imagine how a product like this could be better designed for usability. The outlets aren't densely packed together but are still compactly organized so it is highly portable. Its size allows it to be easily gripped and contained in one hand. A reassuring green light appears to signal protection for surges. But my favorite feature is the rotating plug that can spin a full 360 degrees and has four locking positions (every 90 degrees). This makes it tremendously versatile and gives it the ability to flexibly fit in an outlet or alongside any other plug. It works great to charge my phone, Kindle, and other small USB devices. However, a small annoyance (and the only feature I consider has room for improvement) is that it doesn't charge my iPad. I imagine there's some electrical limitations that have led to this, but I'm sure modern technology would allow enough power to go through this to be able to charge more power-hungry devices. Another thing that slightly bothers me but will probably be overlooked by most people is that if you position the outlets so they are facing "up" (skinny prongs on top, fat prong on bottom), the USB plugins will be facing down. This leads to the USB icons/logos facing downwards. I'm not sure why it was designed this way or if it was intentional, but it's a small thing that bothers the borderline-OCD designer inside me. [overall analysis] The look and feel of this surge protector/USB charger is very Apple-esque: it is simple, elegant, modern, and very usable. I'd imagine it would be pretty popular among Apple users because it pairs so nicely with Apple products, both aesthetically and functionally. After enjoying my first one so much, I went out and bought another one. I'm sure there are clones or attempts to copy this product, but I consider Belkin's the best; they've done an excellent job designing one of my most enjoyed everyday products.

[about DOET]

Last year I read Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Inspired by Steve Jobs’ biography, I recently began thinking and reflecting on the beauty around me. There is a lot of design coverage and discussion about well-known and extraordinary things, such as a Retina Macbook Pro or a Lamborghini Aventador, but there is little towards better understanding the normal objects around us.

For the next 14 2 days, I will randomly choose an everyday household object and conduct a thorough analysis of its design in what I’m calling my Design Of Everyday Things, or DOET, project. My goal with this is to learn more about design through the careful scrutiny of products I would have otherwise overlooked. This is my refusal to take design for granted. Each analysis has three parts: first impression, usability, and overall analysis. I don’t consider this to be a review, but rather an exploration: there will be no numerical rating, purchasing recommendation, or a pro/con section.

Past DOETs: