The Length of Power Cords

By Deane Barker on December 27, 2005

Is it too much to ask accessory manufacturers to put the length of the cord on the box? Is this too complicated or something?

My wife is slowly coming to grips with our digital camera. She knows how to attach it to the computer, but she doesn’t like that you have to crawl under the desk to connect the cord. To alleviate this, I bought a 4-port USB hub to sit on the desk. I found one for $10. I was thrilled, until I found out that the cord was 18 inches long.

Now, I know that some people have USB ports on their keyboard, so it would be great for them. But I don’t have any such ports, so it would have been helpful for me to know that the cord was roughly the length of the fuse on a firecracker. The cord is all bundled up in the box, and hidden behind the cardboard, so there’s no way to know.

Power strips too — put the length of the cord on the friggin’ box. It’s fairly important in a lot of cases to know just how far that power strip is going to reach, and there’s a wide range. I’ve seen strips anywhere from 3- to 6-feet. I’ve never seen the length of the cord on the box, so it’s a huge crapshoot.

I wonder if they don’t so this because the number of sales they’d gain is outweighed by the number they’d lose because cords are generally too short. Does having an extra long cord on an accessory provide any benefit for the manufactuer, or is it in their best interest to make them as short as possible, and just hide this fact so you don’t find out about it until you get home?

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Comments

  1. Now, I know that some people have USB ports on their keyboard, so it would be great for them.

    I grabbed one of these at work not too long ago, because it looked incredibly useful (just plug my thumb drive into the back of the keyboard and go) but, without exception, I’ve found these to be too low-power to do anything other than power a mouse. Very drustrating.

  2. Power strips too — put the length of the cord on the friggin’ box. It’s fairly important in a lot of cases to know just how far that power strip is going to reach, and there’s a wide range. I’ve seen strips anywhere from 3- to 6-feet. I’ve never seen the length of the cord on the box, so it’s a huge crapshoot.

    Most of the strips I’ve bought recently have had the cord length printed on the packaging. Probably because all of the applications I’ve needed strips for recently required extra long cords, and hunted for those that fit my needs. There are some out there, but you’ve got to look for them.

  3. While I understand your frustration, is it really such a big deal to open the box and check the length of the cord? If the thing is shrink wrapped, just take it to a employee and ask them to open it so that you can check the cord length. They can watch you if they are worried about you stealing it. If they refuse, go somewhere else which is more accommodating. It’s all well and good for vendors to have “we don’t give refunds if you change you mind” signs about the place, but if you can’t tell from the packaging about this kind of thing, they really need to let you open the box.

    Or just open it anyway, permission be damned.

  4. My biggest frustration is that cords are all too long.

    The adapters have gotten smaller over time, but now the power cord for my camcorder is bigger and heavier than the adapter. I want a 6″ power cord. In fact, I need several of them: camera charger, camcorder charger, ext. hard disk adapter, scanner adapter, and on and on.

    I also want shorter usb cords and shorter firewire cords. I use a laptop, so the ports are right there. Why do I need 6 feet of cable for everything.

    So why can’t I buy short cables at Radio Shack or Best Buy? I have to order them from some obscure on-line shop across the border (from Canada).

    Cables and power bricks are the bane of my life, so I don’t share your grief, I’m afraid.

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