Today's Guinea Pig
Many of you may have recently experienced the joys of Boxing Day/Week, and I am no exception. When I saw Monster's HT800G going for $30 instead of its typical $45 street price (or $90 MSRP), I decided it'd be a fine unit to look at.
Knocking At The Front Door
This premium power product comes packaged in one of those dreaded blister packs; not exactly the most return-, storage- or finger/user-friendly stuff.
Features listed on the front include its “GreenPower” outlets to stop devices from drawing standby current when the “Master” device is either off or in standby itself, fire-proof MOVs with 2160 joules of surge suppression, cable and phone surge protection, nondescript other filtering and protections, a $500,000 connected equipment warranty (I thought APC's $200,000 warranty was silly high already) and patented cable labels.
Knocking At The Rear Door
For all my dislike of blister packs, at least Monster's packaging is pre-cut around most of the back so there are only small plastic bridges left to break.
The back gives a summary description of key features listed on the front. The “Dual Mode Plus” protection simply means the switched outlets get turned off to prevent (further) damage to loads and sound an alarm on surges large enough to trigger it. “Clean Power” filtering isn't really explained clearly, but the “precision engineering” claim compels us to expect something more than a simple X-rated capacitor for EMI filtering.
The fine print near the bottom reads: “Designed in the USA and manufactured to its quality specifications. Made in China.” We'll see what Chinese quality translates to soon. With a $90 MSRP, though, Monster should have been able to afford having the HT800G manufactured elsewhere.
I was puzzled that no patents were listed on the packaging. A second look, this time inside, reveals Monster's list of trademark claims, patents and disclaimers printed in white on light green. They're easily missed unless you are looking for them.
Aside from the surge protector itself, packaging includes:
- a trilingual instruction manual with warranty information
- a disposal notice for European customers (not shown)
- Monster's patented labels
- a one-meter Monster-branded coax cable
- a telephone cord
The manual is probably the most frequently overlooked part of most obvious-purpose products, but if you buy one of these “green” PowerCenters, you should definitely read the part about how to use the GreenPower or equivalent feature correctly to reduce the risk of data loss or bricking devices.
What is so special about these labels? Not much, apart from their glossy paper being punched all the way through the waxed paper backing. If you were expecting to peel them off by bending a corner (as you would with most labels), that's not going to work well; the paper backing will most likely come with it.
Looking up design patent d443 250 reveals it to be nothing more than a patent on color-coded labels that match colored labels on the power center itself.
If this was from any other manufacturer, I would not bother with a closer look at the phone cord. But it's Monster we are talking about, makers of usually expensive cables.
This isn't a fancy phone cord that promises to make your phone calls sound crisper. Monster didn't even bother to have Dong Long put the house's brand on it.
Here, we have a 1.2m (4') piece of Monster SV1-RG6 cable with gold-plated termination shells. It feels thick, sturdy and pliable, but I am not too impressed with the off-center terminations and the gouged dielectric on the right. Also, look at the bend radius on that cable; it looks a whole lot sharper than the “five times the cable diameter” thumb rule for shielded cables. Although the cable does not feel like it got structurally compromised, why tempt fate when this potential issue can be easily avoided by folding or coiling the cable more loosely?
The Monster HT800G gives you three master-controlled outlets, four always-on outlets, coax and phone surge suppression, power, protection and ground indicators, a 2.4-meter (8') power cord and an illuminated breaker switch to turn incoming mains power on or off.
The exterior design is simple and to the point, just how I like it. I wish the company had simply put five outlets on the always-on side and four controlled outlets, though. Simplify the layout and give people the most flexibility.
There's not much to see on the back, where most of the space is occupied by the molded information label. As appears to be customary for power strips, French-speaking people only need to worry about keeping the unit dry, while English speakers need to beware of aquariums, wet locations and piggy-backing strips onto each other. As typical for better-quality MOV-based surge suppressors rated under UL 1449v3, this unit is rated at 400V across any two mains wire pairs.