Back at Macworld 2010, one of the surprisingly popular hardware items on the show floor was a simple electrical outlet. FastMac's U-Socket caught the attention of showgoers with a perfect gimmick: a pair of USB charging ports alongside the 15-amp standard AC receptacles. Clear genius -- and, at a show preorder price of $10, a bargain.
That bargain is going to take a bit longer than expected, though. Reader James let us know that FastMac is sending out a progress email noting a later ship date for the U-Socket. The device is now expected to be out in October of 2010, pending some changes to the design that were encouraged by US and Canadian regulatory and safety agencies and by Underwriters Laboratories (the organization behind the little 'UL' symbol on most electronics equipment).
Those who order the U-Socket now for fall delivery do get a couple of other bonuses out of the delay. In addition to Energy Star certification and support for the USB 3.0 standard, the redesigned units will now support 10W charging -- meaning that one iPad can be charged at full speed, or two in slow mode.
If you want to get your USB charging on and you can't wait until October, I still swear by my trusty Belkin mini surge protector. I haven't tried to charge the iPad with it yet, but it does work fine for iPhones, MiFis and all other kinds of USB-chargeable gear.