SAN FRANCISCO (08/28/2000) - So your computer dodged this summer's power fluctuations and brownouts without using a UPS device? Wise up. Demands on the nation's power grid are only going to increase; prepare for the worst.
An uninterruptible power supply guards your equipment against power surges, gives you extra time to complete work when power fails, and safely shuts down your computer when its own battery is exhausted.
I looked at two shipping models--the Tripp Lite SmartPro 450RT and APC's Back-UPS Pro 500 USB. Aimed at different users, each could save your day by saving your data.
At US$299, the stylish SmartPro 450RT is pricey but versatile. At 1.75 inches thick, 17 inches wide, and 11 inches deep, it targets users in large businesses. It can be placed under a monitor, mounted on the wall, set upright as a tower, or held in a 19-inch rack. It communicates via the serial port, so it works with a company's legacy systems.
The 450RT's PowerAlert software, while a bit arcane, is powerful and offers remote LAN monitoring. In my tests, the UPS ran my 300-MHz Celeron PC and its 17-inch monitor for a whopping 18 minutes, 40 seconds after I cut off power.
This package includes four battery-backed, surge-protected outlets but no RJ-11 modem surge suppression, which is rarely needed in a networked business environment. The 450RT's batteries are easy to replace using the unit's removable front panel.
The second UPS I tested, the $179 Back-UPS Pro 500 USB, now comes with a chic translucent case. This 9.4-inch-high, 5-inch-wide, 7.9-inch-deep UPS has an unusual back-slanted top to reduce cable clutter and offers four battery-backed, surge-protected outlets. You also get three additional outlets with surge protection only, and two surge-protected RJ-11 telephone jacks. It's an excellent UPS for home or office use.
The APC's elegantly simple power management extensions integrate directly into Windows' Control Panel and communicate with the UPS via USB. After power loss, the Back-UPS Pro 500 USB ran my system for an outstanding 18 minutes, 22 seconds.
--Jon L. Jacobi
Back-UPS Pro 500 USB
PRO: Stylish, clever design reduces cable clutter; good battery life.
VALUE: Classiest home-use UPS.
List price: $179
American Power Conversion
Tripp Lite SmartPro 450RT
PRO: Versatile mounting, LAN monitoring software, great battery life.
CON: Not perfect for home use.
VALUE: Great protection for your business environment.
List price: $299