Uninterruptible Power Source Comparison:Tripp Lite SmartPro 700 USB UPS vs. American Power Conversion Smart-UPS 700 Net UPS
Tripp Lite SmartPro 700 USB UPS

$199

Tripp Lite Worldwide

1111 W. 35th St.

Chicago IL 60609

(773) 869-1111

www.tripplite.com

From limbs brought down by storms onto electrical wires to rolling blackouts, there are many good reasons to consider investing in an Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS) for your video editing computer.

Tripp Lite’s SmartPro 700 USB UPS is an adequate source of power protection for most computer workstations. Using the Universal Serial Bus (USB) to communicate with your computer, the SmartPro 700 USB closes applications, saves files, and then safely shuts down your system whenever the power goes out.


Setting up the SmartPro 700 USB

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Getting the SmartPro ready was an easy process. After we unpacked it, we plugged in the SmartPro so that the batteries could fully charge. Then we connected our computer, monitor and external speakers to the UPS. An important tip about UPS usagenever connect a laser printer, a surge suppressor or household appliances to the UPS battery. These could overload your UPS battery.

The SmartPro provides outlets for such devices that do not draw from the unit’s batteries. We used them. Then, with the electrical connections complete, we installed the software. For our tests, we used a Celeron 400 with 128MB of RAM and a 10GB hard drive, running Windows 2000 Professional.

The setup program asked us to identify our operating system: we chose Win2k. Then it gave us the choice of either installing Power Management for Windows 2000 or the special Tripp Lite software, PowerAlert. We tried Windows 2000 Power Management, but it didn’t install. After trying several times, we chose the PowerAlert software, and it installed without a hitch. Once we had the software installed, we simply connected the A-B USB cable that came with the SmartPro to the back of the UPS and to our computer.


Running in Safe Mode

Once we had everything installed and connected, we used PowerAlert to check the supplied voltage and frequency, battery status, battery voltage, etc. We also used PowerAlert to run a SmartPro self-test, and programmed threshold values, points at which the UPS should kick in to take over for our power company.

Our first test was not subtle at all. We simply pulled the plug of the UPS from the wall socket, to simulate a power failure. Our laser printer lost power of course, but the computer, monitor and speakers all kept running, seemingly oblivious to the changeover from utility power to battery power. After a few minutes, PowerAlert notified us that it would be shutting the computer down in a little more than two minutes. We sat and watched as PowerAlert saved documents, closed applications and then finally shut down the machine. This demonstration made us feel fairly confident that, had we not been at our computer, PowerAlert and the SmartPro would have protected our computer and its data from damage.

Next, we plugged in the SmartPro again, and let it return to full charge. Again, we pulled the plugonly this time, we did not allow it to shut everything down. Instead, we watched to see how long it would take to discharge the battery. After about 21 minutes, the battery in the SmartPro finally gave up the ghost. During that 21 minutes, PowerAlert tried desperately to persuade us to allow it to shut down the computer, but we consistently refused. The PowerAlert meters gave us a pretty good indication of how long we would be able to continue using the battery. If we had some critical work to accomplish during a power failure, we could keep working, and simply keep an eye on the meters.


The End of the Show

We take electricity for granted at our peril, as recent news stories attest. A UPS is a very good way to live with unpredictable blackouts. It provides improved power quality and controlled shutdowns. The Tripp Lite SmartPro 700 USB accomplishes these goals well and the PowerAlert software makes it easy to monitor the precise state of your power.

For anyone with a computer or other solid-state electronic gear, a UPS is a welcome addition. If you want one that’s economical and easy to use, check out the Tripp Lite SmartPro 700 USB. It might save you some headaches later.

TECH SPECS

Output watts: 425

Input/output voltage: 120

Input/output frequency: 60 Hz

Waveform type: Sinewave

Backup half-load run time: 17 minutes

Backup full-load run time: 5 minutes

Recharge time: 2 to 4 hours

Surge energy rating: 360 joules

Maximum surge current (amps): 27,000

EMI/RFI noise reduction: greater than

40 dB @ 1 MHz

High volt switch to battery: 147

Low volt switch to battery: 83

Outlets: 3 fully protected and 3 noise and surge protected

Fax/modem surge protection: Set of RJ11 jacks protect two phone lines

Interface port: Built-in USB Smart communications port for use with PowerAlert software and included USB cable

Software: Software download available at tripplite.com

Controls panel: Includes system on/off and battery test switches and LEDs to indicate

17 status levels

Dimensions: 10.25(h) x 4.75(w) x 7(d) inches

Weight: 20.5 pounds

Connected equipment warranty: Ultimate Lifetime Insurance protects connected equipment from damage due to surges up to $50,000 (U.S.A. and Canada only)

STRENGTHS

  • USB cable

  • Easy to install and use
  • Inexpensive

    WEAKNESSES

  • Power Management for Windows 2000 software didn’t install

    SUMMARY

  • The Tripp Lite SmartPro 700 USB is a suitable computer workstation UPS solution.


    American Power Conversion Smart-UPS 700 Net UPS

    $449

    American Power Conversion Corp.

    132 Fairgrounds Road

    West Kingston, RI 02892

    (800) 800-4272

    www.apcc.com

    For the last 20 years, American Power Conversion Corporation (APC) has built well-engineered power provision and protection solutions. The Smart-UPS 700 Net continues this tradition. With an output capacity of 700 VA, or about 450 W, it is well suited for most personal computer installations.

    Whereas the Tripp Lite SmartPro 700 is designed for single computer support, the Smart-UPS 700 Net excels at supporting a network of machines. This is the chief justification for the higher price of the APC unit.


    Getting Hooked Up

    We unpacked our Smart-UPS and plugged it in so the batteries had a chance to fully charge. This step is not in the installation guide, but is a good general precaution. Once the battery level meter showed a full charge, we plugged our computer and monitor into the protected outlets on the back of the unit.

    After getting the electric cords organized, we connected the serial cable between the UPS and our test computer’s serial port. To test the APCC Smart-UPS 700, we used a Celeron 400MHz with 128MB RAM and a 10GB hard drive running Windows 2000 Professional.

    Unlike the Tripp Lite UPS the APCC is horizontal in construction, which may influence where you position the UPS.


    PowerChute plus Software

    We installed the PowerChute plus software from the included CD-ROM. This gave us a choice between target operating systems, with our operating system already highlighted. It also listed some optional components for networked computers and for various Back Office applications such as Exchange Server. At the end of the installation process, the UPS service started up and we began monitoring the UPS.

    PowerChute plus allows you to monitor and control a single UPS, or several, if they’re connected to PCs on a network. You can monitor input line voltage, output voltage, battery condition and even UPS temperature. It also gives you the capability to run diagnostics on the unit and calculate run time based on present power consumption.

    You can set the software to initiate certain actions whenever a particular event occurs. For instance, PowerChute plus could issue a message to all logged-in users as soon as utility power fails, and then page them when it’s about to shut down the system. Modem access is the only thing it needs in order to accomplish these tasks.

    PowerChute plus monitors several functional parameters in real time, and keeps track of some handy information such as the UPS’s serial number, the date the batteries were last changed, and the manufacture date.


    Additional Information

    The Smart-UPS front panel also displays useful information. While some UPS models (including the Tripp Lite SmartPro 700 USB) have status LEDs showing single states, i.e., "The unit is on (or off)" or "The battery is charged (or not)," the APCC Smart-UPS 700 has five-state displays for battery charge, input voltage, etc. Also, two LEDs show when the utility voltage is corrected, whether through SmartTrim for over-volts or SmartBoost for under-volts, without actually switching over to battery power.

    The Smart-UPS also has an expansion slot, located in the rear of the unit. The SmartSlot allows you to plug in an SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) card, which enables you to re-boot servers and routers remotely. You may also choose an environmental measurement card, to remotely monitor the ambient temperature, humidity and even security of your server rack(s). You can even add a card that adds an RS-232 serial port, so you can connect a modem directly to your UPS and get full-featured remote control.


    Finishing Touches

    If you own more than one computer, and you need to network UPS devices, or if you simply want to remotely manage sibling UPS installations, then the APCC probably fits your needs better than the Tripp Lite. The APCC is also preferred if you expect to expand, or if you simply want a more rugged feeling device.

    Both APCC and Tripp Lite manufacture a broad array of choices when it comes to power protection devices. With power scarcity increasing and power reliability decreasing, no one can afford to be without a UPS, and either of these 700 VA models would make good choices for most of us.

    TECH SPECS

    Output watts: 450

    Input/output voltage: 120

    Input frequency: 50/60 Hz +/- 3 Hz (auto

    sensing)

    Waveform type: Sinewave

    Backup half-load runtime: 18.2 minutes

    Backup Full-load runtime: 5 minutes

    Recharge time: 3 hours

    Surge energy rating: 320 joules

    Battery type: Maintenance-free sealed Lead-Acid battery with suspended electrolyte

    Interface port: DB-9 RS-232, Smart Slot card

    Smart Slot Interface Quantity: 1

    Management software included: PowerChute Smart-UPS bundle

    Control panel: LED status display with load and battery bar-graphs and On Line : On

    Battery : Replace Battery : and Overload

    Indicators

    Audible alarm: Alarm when on battery :

    distinctive low battery alarm : configurable delays

    Dimensions: 6.2 (h) x 5.4 (w) x 14.1 (d) inches

    Weight: 29 pounds (13.18 kg)

    Equipment protection policy: $25,000 lifetime equipment protection policy

    STRENGTHS

  • Front panel information
  • Easy to install and use
  • Expandability

    WEAKNESSES

  • No appreciable weaknesses

    SUMMARY

  • A suitable UPS solution for your networked machines.
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