There are an endless number of smart plugs that let you remotely turn an outlet on and off, but those plugs usually accept just one single cable. So to address bigger needs, Kasa is introducing an entire smart power strip that allows you to individually control all six of its power sockets.
The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip has six power sockets, which can be controlled through an app or by voice assistants, as well as three USB ports that always remain powered on. Kasa, which comes from the router company TP-Link, is far from the first to make a smart power strip, but it is perhaps the first major brand to do so. And given that, when it comes to power strips, you really want to buy from a legitimate brand, that makes this announcement a notable one.
On top of that, Kasa’s line of smart home products actually work, and its app is fairly easy to use. Once you have the power strip set up, you’ll be able to assign different icons to each socket, so that you can identify what’s plugged into them — be it a computer, a fan, a lamp, or something else. The app also integrates with Alexa, the Google Assistant, and Cortana, so you can control the sockets by voice. Kasa says that it’s working on HomeKit support as well but doesn’t have a date for when it’ll be ready.
The strip’s three USB ports can’t be turned off, which seems fine since those are probably going to be charging gadgets or else sitting unused. Unfortunately, the ports max out at 4 amps, which means they won’t be able to fast charge any smartphones, which is really what you’d want to use them for. I’m sure some USB ports could still come in handy for other purposes, but I suspect anyone who’s nerdy enough to buy this product will also be the kind of person who wants to use a power adapter that supports fast charging, which is going to take up a socket.
Another benefit here is that the whole thing connects to your home network over Wi-Fi, so you don’t need some other hub or smart speaker in order to start using it. I have a couple of smart plugs in my home (both from Kasa) so I very much understand the use for them, but I do have to wonder: how many people will need to remotely control more than one or two things connected to the same power strip? I’m not sure who has that many lamps, fans, and other objects that would benefit from remote control in the exact same place.
The power strip launches today for $80. That’s a lot more expensive than a normal power strip, but compared to the price of a single smart plug — Kasa’s goes for around $25 — the price looks more reasonable.