Not only is this extremely convenient, it's also a great way to save energy because, as we're constantly being told, leaving stuff on standby still uses a fair amount of power and a lot of computer peripherals use external power supplies which still draw current even when the device is off. In contrast the IntelliPlug uses a mere 0.4 of a Watt when in standby. So if you use a few of these for all your computer peripherals, the various boxes plugged into your TV, and your Hi-Fi, and whatever else you can think of, you can be set to save a nice chunk of change on your electricity bill.
The actual models I'm looking at are the IntelliPlug (#DSK105) and USB IntelliPlug (#USB105) three way adapters. The USB in the latter refers to its ability to detect when to turn peripheral devices on when used with a laptop, which I'll explain in a little more detail in a moment. Each plug has three sockets - one master and two peripherals - so you can control two extra devices, which is enough for your monitor and a set of speakers, say. However, if you have a rather more complicated setup then you may want to look at OneClick's IntelliPanels that have seven peripheral sockets and can be had for around £20.
It goes without saying that the aesthetic qualities of a plug socket are not going to be high on most peoples' agenda. However, I can't help but point out that these things aren't for show, in any way, shape, or form. Having complete instructions and annotated plugs and sockets makes for great usability but doesn't do much for the looks department. Good, then, that the IntelliPlug's primary use sees it being tucked down the back of a desk or TV cabinet.
While the setup of the non-USB plug couldn't be more obvious and straight forward the USB version requires a bit more explanation. The reason for its existence is that a large number of laptops don't suck up enough power to trigger the master device switch. So if you use a laptop as your master device with the standard IntelliPlug, your peripherals will never turn on. However, the USB version uses a special cable that runs from the IntelliPlug to a USB port on your laptop. So, when you turn the laptop on, its USB ports are activated, which the IntelliPlug detects, so it turns the other devices on. It's a system that works very well but does have one obvious flaw in that it takes up a USB port on your laptop, so you may want to invest in a small USB hub as well.