Friday, January 21, 2011

Five Years With The AV600 And Still It Works Wonderfully!

The Good: Reset button! Color coding is all right, Seems to work, Supposed warranty
The Bad: I honestly do not know if it works, even after years of use (seriously).
The Basics: With its alleged surge suppression capabilities and the reassurance of a reset button after electrical incidents, the AV600 appears to be quite adequately protecting my computer equipment!

Five years ago, I bought my first television of my own. I splurged on a pretty amazing HD-TV and when I made this hefty purchase, I knew I wanted to protect it. The store where I bought the television offered only one type surge protector, the Monster Cable PowerProtect AV600 which was noted as the Monster Multiple SurgeGuard. My only questions when I bought it were: does it work and if it doesn't, what recourse do I have? I was told that it does work and if it didn't, there was a warranty. Truth be told, I picked it up there because it looked sturdier than any other surge protector (but not battery backup!) I had ever used, so I figured it was worth giving it a fair shakedown.

Well, a year and a half and at least three power outages later, my television remains intact! The only thing that seems remotely changed by the power outages was the display on my DVD player (reviewed here!) which might just be a result of it being kind of cheap as opposed to a fault of the AV600. I lean toward blaming the DVD player because, while the first time the display panel on the DVD player stopped working, it was right after an outage, the display comes back on and off sporadically with seemingly no relationship with the power.

Let's start then, with the basics. This is a six outlet surge protector, with all six outlets featuring a grounding socket and the safety-constructed slots for safety plugs. For those unfamiliar with most modern appliances (in the last ten years or so), most three prong and especially two prong plugs come with the left prong slightly larger than the right prong so there becomes only one proper and safe way to plug devices in. This prevents electrocutions and destruction of electronic goods.

The six outlets are situated on the top of the just under eleven inch base of the surge protector. They are evenly spaced and I have had no difficulties with space issues as the only things I have plugged into this have been audio-visual equipment. If using this same surge protector for computer equipment (it's not forbidden, but not exactly designed for computer equipment - the warranty implies that it might only cover audio-visual equipment) I suspect it would be impossible to get all one's goodies plugged into this protector. The AV600 could not accommodate (for example) a bulky scanner and speaker plug right next to one another. As many as four outlets might become unusable with big, square power adapters as opposed to the usual three-pronged plugs that are found on most A-V equipment.

The cable is eight feet long and ends in a three pronged plug that connects into the wall at an angle. I understand this is supposed to save space, but it still looks funny, unless your outlet is offset by a thirty degree angle. This function only truly makes sense when one is plugging the AV600 into the same socket as something with a more intrusive cord. This allows the cable to drape to the side of the socket and other cords as opposed to sticking straight out. This is not a key selling point for me, but might come in handy for those who have crowded outlets or are plugging into places that are hard to reach.

The six outlets are color coded and labeled for different equipment. There is an out outlet each for: TV/Monitor, Receiver/Amp, Cable(Box)/Statellite (Receiver), DVD/CD player, VCR, and a Spare. Presumably these are the things that are warrantied to be used in this, though the Spare outlet certainly opens it up. I thought this function was cheesy, stupid, and kind of dictatorial (no Monster Power engineer is telling ME where I'm plugging in!) until the night when I was swapping out receivers, DVD players and VCRs, and the coding became incredibly handy for directing my efforts. It's much easier to instruct someone on what cord to pull or to plug in when there's a place clearly labeled. It's certainly easier to yell "Pull the one from the red socket!" as opposed to waiting for someone to trace a power cord back to its component appliance. That night proved its worth to me and I'll admit I've fallen in line since then. In all honesty, my new AV600 is what I am using to protect my new Playstation 3 (reviewed here!).

The PowerProtect AV600 plugs easily into the wall and is turned on with the flick of a switch. The lit toggle switch clearly indicates when the power is on and a small light above that indicates that the surge protector is working and it is safe to plug in appliances. According to the paperwork on this, this surge suppressor is rated for up to 550 Joules. As I understand the literature, this device takes the spikes out of AC power that would otherwise damage the audio visual components.

When I was sold the AV600, I was told that a lot of the newer equipment, like the HDTVs and sound systems are very sensitive to changes in the alternating current power supply. The Monster Power PowerProtect was the only system the knowledgeable folks where I bought the surge suppressor and television from trusted because it supposedly eliminates even the slightest variances that can be seen in some of today's sophisticated equipment. When I bought the television, they asked, "You know those wiggly lines that sometimes appear on your television screen or monitor?" I said, "Umm . . . no." "Well, this prevents that," I was told. To be fair, my HD-TV has never had squiggly lines, my sound system has never suffered from any form of power-related static, so I'm pretty well convinced this is a quality, well-shielded devices.

When I purchased my MacBook Pro (reviewed here!), I was told that a surge protector like this one is a good idea to have along when recharging at places like hotels and wherever the wiring might be questionable. That seemed like a good idea to me and the AV600 allows me to run and charge my MacBook Pro (and a friend's cell phone!) without worry. I have never seen any squiggly lines on my laptop monitor either, so I assume the surge protection and A-V protection works on the computer monitors as well. I decided to use the AV600 for this function because my laptop has a battery in it (obviously), so getting another battery back-up like the one I have for my home computer seemed redundant.

I live in a place that has frequent power outages and I've lost microwave ovens as a result. Since the moment I bought my HD-TV and related paraphernalia, it has been plugged into the AV600. Does it work? Well, it seems to. I've run my MacBook Pro on the AV600 during a thunder storm and while the lights flickered, my computer was absolutely fine. That's a lot of risk to take, but my experiences with the AV600 before proved to me it was worth the risk and now with my prized computer equipment, it is not letting me down.

Honestly, I can't prove this is working and that's why I believe it is. My system has never failed me and all of the equipment plugged into it is still up and running just fine. Added to that, what makes this above average (surge protectors are pretty average equipment in my book) is a Reset button. When the surge protector is hit with a surge that engages its function, it (presumably) loses the ability to take another hit and protect the appliances without being reset. When the light above the power toggle goes off, press the reset button, it comes back on and your equipment is once again being protected!

Because of the nebulous repeatability (the reset has been necessary one when a lightning storm hit and I was home) of the AV600, I still unplug the PowerProtect when I am going to be away from home for more than a weekend, just to be on the safe side. This surge protector has a $10,000 equipment replacement or repair warranty, which I have never had to exercise. Presumably, if my system gets fried and it can be shown to be a result of a failure of the AV600 from normal use, everything plugged into it will be replaced or repaired up to a value of $10,000. I honestly do not know if this warranty would cover computer components like my laptop and customer service at Monster Cable's 800 number is supposedly looking into it and getting back to me.

The bottom line for me is I don't know if it works, but the lights and the survival of my equipment suggest to me that is has been. At the end of the day, one wants a surge protector that looks like it can handle the job and appears to do that. I've risked my system on this one and I have not been disappointed yet. And with lesser surge protectors, when it's hit once, it loses its value. The reset switch on this one assures me it continues to work and my equipment it protected.

This is certainly a better-than-average surge suppressor and it's bound to protect your high priced electronics, too.

For other power or computer related devices, please check out my reviews of:
Acer Aspire laptop computer
DLO Power Bug
OrionGadgets Synch and Charge USB Cable For iPad


For other electronic device reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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