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A Greener Home Office: Belkin Smart AV And Moneual Sonamu G100

A Greener Home Office: Belkin Smart AV And Moneual Sonamu G100

Want a fast and easy way to minimize your power profile? How about a smart power strip or an eco-friendly case from Moneual? If you're trying to reduce your carbon footprint and your electric bill, we explore how much energy you can expect to really save.

Going green is more than just a matter of being environmentally responsible. The biggest attraction to being eco-friendly is saving money. That’s why there was such a big rush to buy Honda's Insight and Toyota's Prius. Despite paying a higher entry fee, by the time you calculate operating costs over time, you're supposed to end up in the black.

In a similar way, we are starting to see a shift within the computer industry (particularly in Europe, where electricity is more expensive), as an increasingly large audience is becoming interested in “green” features. In many ways, we can trace the start of all of this to Shuttle’s XPC. The XPC’s ability to enable full-sized desktop hardware in a compact package really forced enthusiasts to compromise technologies like CrossFire and SLI in order to get that sexy little box's dimensions. The XPC did away with the gratuitous waste typical of so many enthusiast-oriented desktop configurations in the interest of space conservation (even if the components it housed used just as much power as they would in an ATX enclosure).

The industry trends towards smaller, faster, and cheaper. That's never going to change. Still, most of us aren’t interested in migrating to a nettop to save money. We still want all of the performance we come to expect from modern technology; we just want it to run cooler, quieter, and more power-friendly in the process, too.

However, there are other ways for us to reduce our carbon footprint without having to sacrifice performance when we really need. It's a well known fact that most electrical appliances draw at least some power, even when they are turned off. These “energy vampires” are easy targets for silently reducing your energy bill.

There are two ways to go about this. If you’re planning to build an entirely new system, we recently got our hands on Moneual’s Sonamu G100, which is a micro-ATX case that automatically shuts off the power to peripherals when the computer goes into a lower power state. This could help stem unnecessary power consumption from devices that don't need to stay powered-up. There are also a few "smart" power strips available, which perform the same function. If you already have a system built up and want to achieve power savings without disrupting your existing setup, one of those might be a good alternative.

The real question is whether or not it's worth paying a premium upfront for power-friendly devices that promise to pile up the savings over time. Or are these companies just guilting us into spending extra on functionality that should probably be built into true eco-friendly devices in the year 2011?

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  • 2 Hide
    compton , April 28, 2011 5:04 AM
    I'm no eco-terrorist, but I do consider power efficiency of my PC as one metric of it's performance -- one I do try to make lower in general. I have a 80+ gold PSU. I'm using a 2500k and SSDs. Even with my GTX 460, Asus Essence STX soundcard, ect I max out at ~208 watts at the wall during intensive games.

    If you really want to save some electricity and have more fun doing it then build a more efficient PC. These two products are just a little too gimmicky. At least in a PC with efficient components you get less heat (and noise) as well as a lower utility bill. The energy cost to make and distribute these two products will far, far exceed any energy or power savings realized.

    Still, it's good to see a different style of review. I'd like to see more in the series (like the GPU energy cost article). I know there are some products out there that can make a difference when it comes to lower energy bills.

    Good job.
  • 0 Hide
    alikum , April 28, 2011 5:15 AM
    Disappointed with Belkin's customer support
  • 0 Hide
    newnow , April 28, 2011 6:12 AM
    yes,it look wonderful
  • 0 Hide
    ngazi , April 28, 2011 6:22 AM
    Really nice to know to avoid these things.
  • 1 Hide
    Olle P , April 28, 2011 7:05 AM
    There are other, more elusive and difficult to assess, factors involved as well:
    - Environmental impact during production of the equipment.
    - Environmental impact of storage and transportation to your home.
    - Environmental impact once the equipment is taken out of service.

    To reduce these effects one must use the equipment for as long as possible, and then possibly re-use it for less demanding tasks.

    Personally I use one of those "smart" power strips to kill everything but the 5Vsb line when the computer is off.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnMD1022 , April 28, 2011 11:18 AM
    How about those of us who believe 'green' is a crock?
  • 2 Hide
    MU_Engineer , April 28, 2011 11:38 AM
    JohnMD1022How about those of us who believe 'green' is a crock?

    It's only a crock to people who have a basic grasp of math or any clue as to what manufacturing a product entails. For the rest of the people, it's an excellent and highly effective advertising strategy because it's an emotional argument and not a logical one. "Our product uses less power and are environmentally friendly." [shows pictures of baby seals and icebergs falling off into the ocean] "Don't you want to save the environment?" The sheer number of highly non-environmentally-friendly to manufacture and uneconomical Priuses out on the road will tell you the "green guilt" ad strategy works very, very well.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2011 1:17 PM
    It's a crock sometimes, sometimes it's not. Just like most other things.

    Using a more efficient PSU or driving a Ford Fiesta instead of a Humvee is perfectly reasonable both for the environment and for the savings provided.

    But yes, not all green products are actually green. Not all low fat products are actually low fat, and so on. Are you really surprised?
  • 0 Hide
    huron , April 28, 2011 1:56 PM
    I do hate when everyone jumps on the "Green" bandwagon and uses it primarily for marketing, but I look forward to a day when I don't have to pay for heat or electricity, or at least as much...that'll be a great day in my world.

    The interesting thing about PCs and electronics in general is that they are always getting greener for the most part, right - newer generations use less power, produce less heat, and offer greater performance.

    I am an enthusiast, so I get that high-powered GPUs and CPU overclocks are not as green, but for the same power output, I have a significant jump in performance vs a machine only a few years old. Wouldn't it stand to reason that if I wanted the same performance, I could get it at less power = GREEN?
  • 0 Hide
    jonahkirk , April 28, 2011 6:27 PM
    Sticking these on smartly built, newer peripherals probably would never pay-out. However, if you have an older monitor, 5 yr. old Logitech 6.1 surround sound which your 3 kids never kill at the power button, older printer/scanners or an entertainment system with a variety of vampire appliances including powered subwoofers and gaming systems which only get put in stand-by, then these strips might save you some cash.
  • 1 Hide
    enzo matrix , April 28, 2011 7:05 PM
    Interesting how all these comments are either "pro green" or think "green is a crock" when the article emphasised money savings more than it did environmental impact.
  • 0 Hide
    adamcom25334 , April 28, 2011 11:39 PM
    Excellent product Belkin!! Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , April 29, 2011 1:51 AM
    I'm with compton on this one. I try to go for measurable efficiency improvements over "green" gimmicks, and maintaining awareness of what I'm "using" (pretty much any amount is ok) vs. what I might be "wasting" (i.e. consuming to no purpose; any amount is bad).
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , April 29, 2011 5:17 AM
    adamcom25334Excellent product Belkin!! Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?

    You mean an excellent product from Belkin? Its because Belkin only comes out with cheap crap with the exception of the n52 gaming pad.
  • 0 Hide
    MU_Engineer , April 29, 2011 11:21 AM
    Interesting how all these comments are either "pro green" or think "green is a crock" when the article emphasised money savings more than it did environmental impact.

    The thing is that these products don't really save money. You can already unplug your computers and electronics from the wall outlet or turn your existing power strip switch "off" to prevent any standby power use when you are done using them- and that costs absolutely nothing. The computer case is also not that great of an idea for a similar reason- you can just suspend your computer to disk (hibernate) rather than suspending to RAM and shut the power strip off rather than going out and buying a considerably more expensive case than you otherwise would have.
  • -1 Hide
    lamorpa , April 29, 2011 4:23 PM
    JohnMD1022How about those of us who believe 'green' is a crock?

    You're wrong. Why do you ask?
  • 0 Hide
    JohnMD1022 , April 29, 2011 4:26 PM
    Perhaps it's you who is wrong...
  • 0 Hide
    adamcom25334 , April 30, 2011 1:29 PM
    The Belkin power strip will come in handy to turn off my DVD player as the TV shuts down with its own timer. The laser in most (if not nearly all) DVD players is active, even if the player is on but not playing. And the lasers do have a finite life span, much shorter than I would have guessed. We (me and the Mrs) occasionally watch a DVD as we're going to sleep, so this product should help to extend the life of DVD player. The savings on the power bill would obviously be fairly minimal in this case.
  • 0 Hide
    ngazi , May 3, 2011 5:29 AM
    Why are all these people talking about getting that Belkin when it eats more power than it can possibly save you?
  • 0 Hide
    c911darkwolf , May 3, 2011 9:48 PM
    40% of the 4 computers in our house runs on solar panels : ) thats green boyos!