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Supplier: TrippLite
Price: $175.99 from NeweggReviewed: Jul 18, 2007

Author: faceless105 -- Posted: 2007-07-18
I've been working long enough in the computer field to know that disaster prevention should be something you worry about before it becomes a real crisis. One of the most common events I see is computer failure due to power problems. Luckily a UPS can prevent such complications, and while you may not worry about it to often, these are the types of problems that could very easily put many small businesses out of business.

Tripp Lite has given me the opportunity to review their digital UPS system, the SMART1200LCD.

The most basic abilities of any UPS are to protect your computer in the event that the power being supplied isn't what it's supposed to be. Power outages are among the more damaging events to computer hardware. No one thinks it's a good idea to turn the computer off by ripping the cord out of the wall. Even worse is when brown outs occur. Your computer will continue trying to run with inadequate power and this is when I've seen the most damage happen. Power supplies will usually fail and in to many cases damage some of the system components.

This is what makes a UPS so valuable to any system. Out of the box the SMART1200LCD looks pretty nice. It isn't your typical home UPS that looks like a large surge protector, this is actually built with the option of being placed in a rack mount environment.

The most frequent type of power failures are momentary. Unfortunately it only takes a split second to wipe out any projects we might have been working on. The SMART1200LCD is equipped with AVR technology. This allows it to keep your computer running when the power flickers, goes out completely, and even in the event of a brown out it is able to keep your computer running untouched. In addition to this it is able to keep running without relying as much on the battery which improves the battery and your operating time in these circumstances.

One feature that I find to be the most convenient as well as powerful is that you are able to connect up to two computers to the UPS by one serial cable and one USB cable. By using the UPS software you can have it automatically shut down your computer which becomes a necessity in the event of extended power outages.

The software is really nice with a decent amount of options. You can set it up to shut your computer off the second it goes to battery, wait till the UPS is down to a certain percentage remaining, or even to have it wait till the UPS gets to a critical battery level. The software will also give you information such as how much battery power is remaining and a number of other convenient features.

Another really cool feature on the SMART1200LCD is the rotatable LCD status screen. This can be rotated depending if you want the unit standing vertically or laying down horizontally. This LCD gives you quick notice of the input voltage, remaining battery, automatic voltage regulation (used to correct power in the event of a brownout), lets you know if your battery needs to be recharged or replaced (definitely something worth knowing), and it lets you know when the output exceeds the limits of the UPS.

Now like anything that runs on battery it is best to know what kind of time you can expect out of your hardware. The SMART1200LCD is rated for 5 minutes on a full load, and 15 minutes on a half load. Now the unit does have eight outlets on it but for maximum battery time I'd recommend using as few as possible. In addition to the eight outlets it also comes with line cleaners for the phone and cable lines. (You may think that phone lines aren't a big deal but with dial up internet and a thunderstorm, phone lines can get huge jolts of electricity and I've seen that melt a modem expansion card to a motherboard before.)

Now what kind of review would this be without the first hand experience right? Well fortunately this arrived on a day when they were calling for large storms all day. Knowing that our power was knocked out last week in a storm I figured I'd better hook this up before I left for work. :)

The unit came fully charged which I thought was really cool of them. I plugged the UPS into the wall and my desktop into the UPS. After that I went on their site and installed their management software. This only takes a minute and hardly takes any time to install. I've been told in the past that it's generally good if you have your system shut off when the UPS gets to 10% remaining battery but I'm a cautious person and decided to have it shut my system down at 20%. All of this couldn't have taken more then 5 - 10 minutes, and with that all done, I left for work. Surprisingly when I came home I found that the power never went out.

This meant that I was time for a test of my own. To get the most out of my time, I decided to change the settings to shut the system down after the UPS had only a critical amount of power left. I checked the time to see how long it would last without power and then unplugged the UPS. The transition was extremely smooth. All that happened was a little click from the UPS, other then that you wouldn't even know the power went out. I didn't run anything to demanding on my computer I though I'd try and kind of simulate an office environment as much as I could. While doing this I had the management software up and running to let me know exactly how much battery power was left.

After a good 40 minutes the computer finally started the shutdown process. It took approximately 8 hours to do a full recharge, and I thought, "I want to really give this thing a run for its money". Now the first test only had the tower being powered by the UPS so I decided to plug in my monitor as well and run as many programs as I could to give it a real life stress test. I was very happy with these results as well as this lasted me a comfortable half hour.

I wanted to give this a full run through of time trials so here is a list of performance...

I'd really like to thank Tripp Lite for giving me the opportunity to review the SMART1200UPS. I'm extremely impressed with the level of functionality that it offers as well as the ease of use that it provides. Additionally I'd like to take a moment to remind everyone out there once more that disaster recovery and prevention should be big deals in any environment. It can take only a second to lose everything, unless you're willing to put in a few minutes of planning. On that note I'd like to recommend to all you that you check out the SMART1200LCD ups or even any of their other models. On a note of their credibility you can feel comfortable that most all of their UPSs warranty your hardware. It varies between models, but the SMART1200LCD offers up to $250,000 lifetime insurance, so even in the worst case scenario it's hard to go wrong with a UPS.

As always I'd love to field any questions you guys could throw at me because you know that I'm always up for a good discussion :)
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