When you purchased your computer system, you probably didnít realize that you were missing a peripheral. A very important peripheral at that. One that could protect your costly investment. Iím talking about an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A UPS is akin to a battery backed-up power supply that can protect your equipment from power outages, spikes, and brownouts. Of course, during stormy weather, you can simply shut down and unplug your equipment, but these electrical interruptions can occur at any time causing damage and even loss of important data. When you purchase a computer system, you should purchase a UPS along with it, and one of the best brand names to look for is APC (American Power Conversion).
The APC Back-UPS RS 1500 is one of the choices from the companyís product line-up. This UPS provides 1500VA (865 Watts) of battery load capacity, which means it can provide back-up power for a system as large as a tower PC with a 21-inch monitor for up to 28 minutes. A unique and excellent feature of the RS 1500 is that you can add an external battery pack to increase your back-up time. With the external battery pack, that same tower PC with 21-inch monitor would have back up power for up to 90 minutes. Very nice indeed. The RS 1500 gives you six battery back-up outlets as well as two surge protection outlets for your other peripherals, such as a scanner and printer. Not only that, but youíll find a phone/DSL/fax/modem protection connection as well as protection for your Ethernet network. Power spikes can travel over phone lines and network lines too.
During my tests, installation of the RS 1500 was extremely smooth. I opened the unit and attached the battery to the terminals, plugged it into a wall socket, and that was it. After the battery was fully charged (which takes about 8 hours), I connected my computer equipment and did a few tests. The unit provides a self-test mode so that you make sure the battery is working properly, but it only cuts power for a few seconds. To really test the unit, I unplugged it from the wall socket. As soon as I did, the battery power kicked in and my computer and monitor were none the wiser. There wasnít even a flicker during the transition. Excellent. Another great feature of the RS 1500 is that even if you donít have a power outage, it still provides protection for your equipment in the form of clean power. What Iím talking about is a feature called automatic voltage regulation (AVR). AVR keeps the power to your equipment coming at a constant voltage by either raising the power during brownouts or lowering the power during overvoltages. You might be surprised and how much your power fluctuates, and these fluctuations can shorten the life of your electronic equipment.
Of course, you may be wondering what would happen if you left your computer unattended. APC has provided for that too with the included PowerChute Personal Edition software. By installing the software and connecting the computer to the RS 1500 via the special USB cable (included), the RS 1500 can communicate with your computer. When the power goes out, the RS 1500 notifies your computer. Then the PowerChute software kicks in and automatically saves any open files and then powers down your PC automatically.
The PowerChute software also provides some additional features. It gives you information about the current power source, remaining battery capacity, time remaining to shut down, how many watts the battery is providing, and more. You can even view a performance summary, which provides a history of any power problems that have occurred since you started using the RS 1500. PowerChute Personal Edition, however, isnít quite as powerful as other power management software Iíve seen. For example, it doesnít provide any programmable features such as being able to carry out various tasks depending on numerous different events like power failure or low battery, etc. This could include leaving your computer running while youíre away and having the software either page you or e-mail you when the power goes out, and even execute a specific program. More powerful software would be a nice addition to the RS 1500 package.
The basic feature set of the PowerChute software is really my only misgiving with the RS 1500. Other than that, I would have to say that this is the best uninterruptible power supply that I have tested so far in all the years that Iíve been writing product reviews. It provides protection for all of your hardware, includes plenty of power outlets, can be configured to stand upright or lay on its side (depending on where you want to put it), and provides the excellent external battery pack option. To top it off, any equipment you connect to the RS 1500 is covered under warranty for up to $150,000. So if your computer is damaged, while connected to the UPS, APC will cover it. I should also mention that APC sells a scaled-down unit called the RS 1000 for a lower cost. The RS 1000 has less battery capacity and doesnít provide the external battery pack option. Either way, if you donít already have a UPS for your system, you should get one as soon as possible and you definitely canít go wrong with the APC Back-UPS RS 1000 or 1500.
For more information, visit www.apc.com