One of the most affordable ways to add a bit of brainpower to your lights and appliances is to smarten up the sockets you're plugging them into. We've already seen products like the Belkin WeMo Switch do exactly this, providing you with remote control over device power, along with a few other functions. I suppose it was only a matter of time before we saw this approach applied to the common household power strip.
That's exactly what Quirky and GE have done with the Pivot Power Genius. An updated version of the company's original flexible, bendable power strip, Quirky's Pivot Power Genius adds Wi-Fi smarts into the mix, with two outlets that you can power on and off from your smartphone using the free Wink app. Or, if you'd rather let Quirky do the work for you, you can program your devices to power on and off automatically at certain times. And, if you're willing to spend an extra $50 on Quirky's Spotter Multipurpose Sensor, you'll be able to power your devices on and off according to triggers like motion, sound, or temperature changes.
Quirky's $79.99 price tag for the Pivot Power Genius is definitely high compared with prices for standard power strips, but it isn't terribly unreasonable given that you're getting two smart outlets. A single WeMo Switch with its lone smart outlet, for instance, will cost you $49.99. The WeMo Switch, however, is compatible with IFTTT, which opens the doors to a whole multitude of triggers -- everything from rising stock prices and football kickoffs to Foursquare check-ins and Twitter mentions. For my money, I'd rather have one outlet that's really smart than two outlets that are kind of smart, and if I really needed two smart outlets, I'd probably just pony up the extra 20 bucks for a pair of WeMo Switches.
If Quirky can expand the smart functionality of its Pivot Power Strip to include IFTTT compatibility or something equally interesting, then I think it'll have a very compelling product on its hands, but as of now it isn't there yet. Additionally, the Spotter shows a lot of promise as a triggering device, but it also might need some additional development, as our tests have shown the reliability of some of the sensors to be a bit, well, spotty. Unless you have a specific need for a bendable smart power strip, and all you need is basic automated scheduling, I'd recommend waiting to see if Quirky can jack the Pivot Power Genius' IQ up a few points.
From a design standpoint, there's a lot to like about this power strip. The fact that you can flex it to fit your needs (and fit your plugs) has a lot of obvious, why-didn't-anyone-think-of-this-before appeal, and on looks alone, it scores points for coolness. I enjoyed the multicolored appearance of the original Pivot Power, though, and wish they had kept that design instead of opting for a conservative, all-white finish.
It's also a bit disappointing that the Pivot Power Genius has only four outlets in total. The original Pivot Power had six, and some common power strips have even more than that. We're also seeing more and more power strips and surge protectors incorporating USB ports into their designs, but you won't find any on the Pivot Power Genius.
Each of the two smart sockets on the Pivot Power Genius features a helpful blue light that shines whenever the outlet is powered on. There are also buttons on the side of the strip beside both smart outlets that will allow you to turn each one on and off manually. I have a hard time imagining scenarios where these would prove to be all that useful, but still, it's nice to have them there if you need them. If you want to turn all four outlets on or off simultaneously, there's a button built into the base of the power strip's plug.