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Strata 800 Power Center  Print E-mail
Home Theater AC Power AC Power
Written by Kim Wilson   
Thursday, 01 April 1999

Introduction
The Strata 800 from XS Technologies is a Power Management System featuring an Uninterruptible Power Supply [UPS] and a detachtable remote control. The Strata 800 protects up to six A/V components from spikes, surges and power losses. The UPS function provides 20 additional minutes of power, allowing electrical devices to be turned off safely during a brownout or blackout.

Due to their microprocessor based circuits, today's electrical devices are even more sensitive to power fluctuations. Many of these products, such as home automation systems, cable and WebTV boxes, and A/V or Satellite receivers, are dependent on a certain amount of memory which can get lost during a power outage.

While power sags and surges are generally unnoticed and seemingly insignificant, power fluctuations can cause long-term damage to your components. Most surge protectors only handle short duration events. According to a recent report issued by Bell Labs, brownouts account for 87% of all power disturbances and these brownouts can easily damage sensitive and expensive A/V equipment. These periods of low voltage force a component's power supply to work harder, resulting in overheating and potentially, complete equipment failure.

The Strata 800 can protect your system from long-term surges, sags and brownouts by regulating the incoming voltage. This 'buck and boost' feature automatically compensates for sags and surges, insuring that the Strata 800 delivers full strength AC power to your components without using the backup batteries.

The Strata 800 also acts as a line conditioner, filtering out RF (radio frequencies) and EM (Electro-magnetic) interference and other noise. In most cases, you can anticipate improved sonic and visual performance from your A/V components.

The Details
The Strata 800 provides six grounded AC outlet receptacles, two pairs of RF connectors and two RJ-11 modular phone jack connectors. Outlet receptacles 1-4 are UPS supported, which means any device plugged into these outlets will receive backup power from the internal batteries if the main AC power is lost. These receptacles can be turned on and off from the remote control. Receptacle 5 is not UPS supported and is NOT? recommended for use with high current devices such as power amplifiers because they would drain the backup battery almost immediately. Receptacle 6 is not controlled by the remote and remains powered all the time, making it best used for equipment like a VCR that requires constant power for its clock and timer.

The RF connectors are used to protect your cable and video connections while the modular telephone jack connectors protect telecommunications devices such as telephones, answering machines and modems (i.e. for WebTV). Additionally, an RS-232 port is provided for connection to a computer, whereby the Strata 800 can be controlled via a computer using XS Technologies proprietary PowerAide software. An X-Bus port is included to interface with a variety of external devices such as home automation systems.

The Strata 800 features a detachable display and control panel that functions as a remote control. This can be particularly advantageous when the unit is hidden from view, however, it is a wired remote with a ten-foot cord. If you need the control panel detached from the front of the unit so that you can turn individual outlets on and off, then you may want to find a permanent resting place for the remote to prevent tangled wires.

The better strategy may be to use the Strata 800's power on/off sequencing delay feature. Unless you choose to turn each receptacle on and off manually via the remote, the sequencing delay is designed to turn receptacles 1, 2, and 3 on in sequence (one-second intervals). After a ten second delay, receptacles 4 and 5 come on, eliminating any audible "pops" commonly associated with amplifiers and preamps powering down simultaneously. When you turn off the Strata 800 the sequence is reversed.

The Strata 800 delivers a pure and stable sine wave output in the battery mode to safeguard sensitive circuits in A/V components. Many other UPS products deliver a square-wave output, which can effect a product's normal life span.

The Strata's control panel display indicates the available battery time based on the load of each unit. The display also provides continuous information about power conditions and surge events. The batteries are rated for three to five years depending on how often they are used.

Conclusion
The Strata 800 normally retails for $649.95, but you should have no problem finding it for around $600. The cost for hot-swappable replacement batteries is $129.00 for the pair. The price may seem hefty at first glance, but you can't put a price on a piece of gear that guarantees protection of your most precious investments and improves their overall performance.

Also, XS Technologies is so committed to protecting your electrical equipment they offer a $30,000 dollar equipment protection guarantee in addition to their 2-year warranty on the Strata 800. The equipment protection guarantee insures Strata owners that if any equipment properly connected to the Strata 800 is damaged by lightning, power surges, etc., XS Technologies will repair or replace it up to $30,000.

Whether we like to admit it or not, our lives are totally dependent on electricity and--according to the Electric Power Research Institute--the potential for power disturbances is expected to increase with the profound changes sweeping the electric utility industry. In light of this fact, the Strata 800 could well be the most valuable protective products a home theater enthusiast can invest in.
Manufacturer Strata
Model 800 Power Center
Reviewer Kim Wilson





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