A smart computer owner always protects the equipment with an uninterruptible power supply or a surge protector. It's cheap insurance for the hardware, not to mention the stored data. So why take chances on the road?

Laptops cost at least as much as desktop PCs, and files carried on the road matter as much as those back in the office. But no one wants to lug around a bulky surge protector just for use in hotel rooms.

TeleAdapt Inc.'s tiny SurgeStop anti-surge plug weighs only two ounces and fits in a palm. It comes in five models to fit most portable computers. I could not find a single laptop in the Government Computer News Lab that it couldn't hook up to.

The SurgeStop fits between the laptop and the AC adapter. I have seen other antisurge products that plug into the wall. There they tend to get overlooked and left behind. The SurgeStop stays right next to your notebook, so you won't forget it.

A bright-red indicator in the center of the plug tells you when your system is protected. If the light fails to go on, you know SurgeStop is no longer working. The device is compatible with the 110-volt power used in the United States, as well as Europe's 240-volt standard.

To test the SurgeStop, I induced surges and power dips by plugging hair dryers and other electrical devices into the same outlet as the test laptop. I recorded the effects on power quality through an uninterruptible power supply with monitoring software, also plugged into the circuit.

Turning the different devices on and off caused dips in power and, over the course of a day, several spikes.

While snapping the switches, I kept a DVD movie playing on the laptop and never saw any loss of sound or picture quality. The indicator light stayed on, showing the power spikes did not hurt the SurgeStop's performance.

Not bad.

Travelers who hesitate to plug their costly laptops into strange outlets should buy the SurgeStop. The only thing that's missing is surge protection for a modem card.

To respond, send e-mail to editor@gcn.com or visit the Government Computer News Web site at www.gcn.com.

SurgeStop

TeleAdapt Inc., San Jose

Telephone: 1-877-835-3232

Web address: www.teleadapt.com

Price: $19.95

Report card grade: A

Pros:

+ Five models to fit most laptops

+ Very light and small

Cons:

-- Should include phone-line surge protection