WHAT IS IT?
The RoboReel Power Cord Reel contains a 50-foot, heavy-duty 12-gauge power cord with three plug ports. Any tool can access it within a 100 foot diameter, and when you’re done using the cord, just push a button on top and the cord gets automatically contracted back into that little orange ball.
We tested it out on a documentary film shoot and at Cirque School in Hollywood. (What? TopKit is based in Los Angeles. Of course we have access to film shoots and circus schools.) We got some great real-world usage out of this device that’s worth mentioning.
The RoboReel is lighter than it looks, and the stand makes it easy to hold and carry. It’s also durable, with a motor that never burned out and a strong shell that crew enjoyed standing on (like we’d seen on the packaging). It held a guy who was 230 lbs, so we’re thinking it can handle most normal wear and tear that happens in an average person’s garage or workshop.
There is a microprocessor that allows you to program a “docking point,” a slow-down point during retraction, that prevents the dangerous whipping-action found in spring-loaded reels. As one crew person pointed out, that would be a great safety feature if she had this at home, because her kids would no doubt try to play with the retraction device when she wasn’t looking. The packaging also notes that if the cord is accidentally severed, “the unit will sense it and shut off the power in less than a second to avoid electrical hazards. Redundant thermostats will sense if the unit is overheating and will turn off the power until the reel cools down to help prevent fires.” We didn’t test out those features, but we did step on the cord while it was retracting and the motor stopped. We also tried retracting while a high-powered fan was plugged in and being used, but the RoboReel wouldn’t coil back while being used.
The RoboReel is more useful when placed in a set location. On the film shoot, where there was a lot of plugging and unplugging, it eventually became cumbersome. Though it offered a lot of length, the ball and stand kept getting in the crew’s way. Likewise, it took up a bit of space; a regular orange extension cord, wound up and hidden in a corner, just worked better in those instances.
However, at the circus school it worked really well. The space doesn’t have air conditioning, and some corners can get dark as the sun crosses over the skylights throughout a day, so coaches constantly need to adjust the air flow and lighting. We plugged in multiple fans and portable lights to the RoboReel’s three outlets and were able to easily move them throughout the space as needed. Normally multiple extension cords snake their way through the school, but this helped make everything much more tidy and prevented potential tripping hazards.
Once the class day was finished, a simple button push brought the cord back home. It not only kept things neat in a potentially chaotic space, but helped us easily shut everything off at the end of the day.
The RoboReel comes with wall mounts and can fit in any corner out of the way, so it works best in a set location. The length should reach wherever you need, and makes working (and cleanup) a little more fun.