There's nothing quite like glancing down the back of most people's TVs or underneath a lot of desks to leave you without faith in humanity. The insane jumble of cables and wires that some people put up with seriously beggars belief. As the number of electronic devices we own grows, so - inevitably - does the number of cables.
If you're anything like our Editor, Chris Hall, you'll love living in the chaos of dusty, tangled cables. However, if you're a decent human who at least vaguely aspires toward order and tidiness, you're going to want to sort that mess out.
Thankfully, regardless of what kind of mess you have, or how neat and hidden away things need to be for you, there are plenty of products to help you out. Whatever your budget, there's something out there for you that will help bring back your sanity.
The power bin
It's almost impossible to keep multi-point power strips and surge protectors looking tidy, which means your only real solution is to hide the unsightly junction out of site, in a box.
Bluelounge Cable Box
There's one company whose mission it is to bring order into your world of cable mess, and that's Bluelounge. It's a company that makes well designed, attractive and durable solutions. You will find many of the company's various products on this list, but also, cheaper alternatives. The Cablebin is a plastic rectangular box designed to house multi-port power extension chords.
It's built from a fire-retardant plastic and will take any power strip or surge protector up to around 40cm long and 14 cm wide, and does a great job of hiding the inevitable mess that happens around TVs and computers. If you need a bigger one, that also takes up less floor space, there's the Cable bin which looks more like your usual under-desk trash receptacle and comes with an attractive wooden finish.
Hama cable management box
It's cheaper than the Bluelounge version, but does much the same job, although with a less polished and cheaper look and feel.
The cable sleeve
If you have a TV or computer, chances are you have more than one cable coming off those and leading to other electronic products and peripherals. Whether it's your router, console, printer, Blu-ray player, monitor or whatever, you'll have cables for all of them, and they're an eyesore if not tidied up. One solution is the cable sleeve that bundles them all together, hiding them in a cocoon of tidiness running in one direction.
Bluelounge SOBA tube system
This Bluelounge SOBA tube system is tried and tested, and a favourite here at Pocket-lint. Like the rest of Bluelounge's products, it's nice to look at and well designed. Its limitation comes in the fact that you can only hold 3-4 cables at once while maintaining its usefulness. It's ten feet long, or around 3 meters, meaning you can cut it to whichever lengths you need.
It comes included with several plastic ends and junctions so that you can have cables going off in different directions, without detracting from the neat and tidy look. The plastic end caps ensure you're not left looking at frayed tubes at the end of each strip.
What we really love, however, is how you apply it to the cable. Because this tube is naturally very tight, you use a semi-circle plastic "zipper", pulling it down to open up the tubing as you feed the cable into it. Once done, you remove the "zipper" and your cables are as snug as a bug and tightly held together.
The simple cable tie
If the sight of exposed cable doesn't upset you too much, the simple cable tidy is a great way to keep all of your cables neat and tidy, together. If your view of the cables is already blocked by something large - a TV for instance - all you need is a few Velcro strips to keep the HDMI, power and audio leads neatly bundled together in a way that doesn't offend your eyes.
Fisual Chunky reusable cable ties
These are your best no-frills cable ties and are available in 10, 20, or 40 packs in black or white. They're 150mm long, meaning you can hold together between 5-8 regular cables without being too much of a stretch.
The cable clip
With smartphones, portable consoles and tablets taking over our lives, we now use multiple power outlets to charge our devices. The only problem is, power outlets and surge protectors are usually on, or near the floor. That's not where you want your precious smartphone to be. So you charge your phone on top of your bedside table, or cabinet, only for your cable to drop to the floor every time you unplug it. Enter: the cable clip. These come in many forms, but essentially ensure your cables don't drop.
No surprise, Bluelounge has these in abundance. The Cabledrop comes in packs of six or nine, in white or black, and do a great job of ensuring that your cables stay where they're meant to be. They're not cheap, but they do work really well. The product has a self-adhesive underside so that you can stick it on to anything, and the mouth is narrow enough that stops any cable from falling through.
The portable organiser
We've all reached into our bags and discovered a tangled, incomprehensible jumble of electronic tumbleweed at some point. It's never deliberate, but it's seemingly unavoidable when we throw our cables, earphones and chargers together without separation. We've found solutions though, and they do make for a state of calm that isn't easily replicated.
BUBM bag cable organiser
Chances are, if you're a tech-savvy consumer, you have more than just cables in your bag. If you have a new Macbook, for instance, you'll likely also have multiple dongles for various purposes. We've found the inexpensive BUBM bag organiser to be an invaluable tool for carrying essentials around.
With the medium-sized version we have wired earphones, a Lightning cable, Type-C cable, micro USB cable, two SD cards, a card reader, Lightning to SD adapter, handful of small Type-C adapters, a Type-C to ethernet and three-port USB 3.1 dongle, Apple's Type-C to HDMI and USB dongle and a portable dual-battery charger for our GH4 batteries, and there's still space to spare. All of these are held in place by stretchy straps, all lined up in grids, with the smaller objects held securely in several small elasticated pouches.
STM Dapper Wrapper
For something a little more premium, nicer looking and well-made, there's the STM Dapper Wrapper. Rather than open up like a book or folder, this wraps around itself and fastens shut with a really convenient magnetic clip. We really like the way it looks, and how easy it is to carry around.
Rather than an open-up pouch, the Grid-it by Cocoon features interwoven, strong elasticated strips on the outside. They're arranged in a way that you can organise virtually any small item of any size or shape in any way that you want to. It's the ultimate in customised tidying and has been a favourite among consumers on Amazon for a good few years. Prices are very reasonable, with five different sizes available.
With all these products combined, you should have your cable nightmare reduced to a fastidiously tidy daydream. Cables and accessories that once rattled around inside a bag, are now neatly held together in a pouch of organised eutopia, while messy cables and power strips are hidden away in boxes, or held together out of sight.