We Tested Austere’s $200 Surge Protector — and Yes, it’s Worth it | CNN

As a tech reviewer, I’m always introducing new plugs into the wall. And after surveying the two overflowing power strips in my especially crowded home theater area, I decided it was time to level up before I burned my house down.

Adding the Austere VII Series, a premium power strip and surge protector, helped me organize all my snaking wires while keeping an eye on power surges that could start a fire or wreak havoc on my priciest equipment and devices. It also fundamentally changed the way I thought about protecting my electronics.

Deena Ghazarian, Founder & CEO of Austere, believes a surge protector can be as helpful to a consumer’s safety as a smoke detector. She also suggests scouring your equipment’s warranty to see what it will not apply to – like lightning strikes and power surges.

“Typically, consumers do not read manufacturer or extended warranties.  And they spend thousands of dollars on home entertainment and fitness equipment and happily plug them into convenient wall outlets,” she says. “What most consumers do not understand is that with that virtually automatic action, they have voided their warranty.”

The Austere VII Series comes in a 6-outlet or 8-outlet strip with additional USB-A and USB-C connections, and starts at an eye-watering $200. However, in addition to its abundant safety and warranty protections, it also offers something unexpected – a pleasing, minimalist design which blends seamlessly with most decor. And though that may seem like an odd attribute for a lowly surge protector, I was amazed at how much of a difference it made in my living room.

What we loved

As apartment dwellers with limited space, our main room acts as an entertainment hub, living room and dining room. And in addition to a 55-inch Samsung QLED TV, our list of home theater products is long. Cable box, check! Then there’s the Apple TV, Samsung Q900T soundbar and subwoofer, Sonos speakers, Nintendo Switch and Philips Hue Bridge, just to name a few. And each time I would receive a new product, I’d have to search for yet another free outlet. If there were none left, I simply added another power strip. Sound familiar?

It was all starting to look more like a student’s mess than an adult living room. After doing some research, I was intrigued by the Austere VII Series products, mainly because of how appealing they looked compared to other surge protectors I came across.

I opted to try the 8-outlet strip, which costs a pretty penny at $230 (the 6-outlet strip is $200). However, with its sleek aluminum case, 6 ft woven Kevlar sheathed cable, angled connection, USB OmniPort for other personal devices, and premium build quality, I thought it worth a shot. And it didn’t hurt that the handsome, sustainable packaging looked more like a beautifully wrapped gift than a tech accessory.

All about the joules

Austere power VII series

Unlike a common power strip, surge protectors use a joule rating to give you an idea of how much protection they can offer – the higher, the better. That protection ends when they run out. The VII Series surge protector has a whopping 4000 joules, which Austere says should last at least five years. But to give you exact timing, a blue light on the top of the device goes out when the joules expire.

In addition to the luxe design and the Joule protection light, there is also one light for power and one to let you know you’re connected to a properly grounded circuit. The cable is flexible and easily hidden, and because the power connection itself is side-mounted at an angle, it’s easier to place anywhere – including behind your TV or entertainment center if you so choose. It also comes with two mounting brackets if you’d rather place it on a wall.

An easy way to organize

I decided to arrange the Austere on the side of my TV, which also gave me easy access to its two USB-A and three USB-C connections with 45W power delivery, which quickly charges other devices like phones, tablets, headphones and even certain laptops. And in a house shared with two teens who are constantly swiping the best phone chargers for themselves, this was a boon.

In addition to delivering uninterrupted power signals to all my priciest electronics, the VII Series surge protector brought a calming order to my overflowing home theater area. There was enough room between each outlet and even those annoyingly shaped, bulkier plugs (you know the ones) took up just one space in the strip.

What we didn’t like

Pleasing to look at, but still big

Austere surge protector

When you have one surge protector holding eight connections, it’s still physically substantial – even if it is a heck of a lot more attractive than other power strips. So, though I was thrilled to interrupt the slow spread of wires and plugs near our home theater, Austere’s surge protector is still a bit unwieldy to look at. You could counter this by hiding or mounting it behind your entertainment center. But then it’s harder to reach as well. For my home, keeping it in plain sight was worth it, but it’s something to consider before you purchase.

It’s a pricey choice

There’s no denying that $200, at minimum, is a lot for a surge protector. For instance, you can score the 12-outlet Tripp Lite surge protector for just $48 or the 6-outlet Accell Power Air surge protector, also with USB charging, for just $35. But if you are serious about your electronics, from home theater to home gym to home office, and don’t mind paying a premium for better build and design, the Austere VII Series may be worth a look.

Bottom line

Austere VII surge protector

If you, like me, have bundles of snaking wires plugged into one dinky power strip, the Austere VII Series surge protector could be a lifesaver. And in addition to having a way to easily organize and protect your priciest tech, you’ll also be treated to a sleek, great-looking power strip that fits in any type of setup.

Yes, you’ll pay more for the Austere VII Series, but you’ll also get a lifetime guarantee as well as a component guarantee, which promises to replace any device which may be damaged due to the power strip for up to seven years. Who says a surge protector can’t be reliable and sexy?

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