Solar-powered gadgets are clean, green, and simple. If you have light, you have power — free power, plus the freedom to take your tablet, smartphone, laptop, and other tech toys off the grid. No wires required! So step out of the shade with us as we shed light on the latest sunbathing, electricity-saving portable devices.
We dug up 5 of the brightest mobile solar stars on the market today that sustainably soak up the power of the sun, the most abundant and renewable non-polluting energy source on Earth. They let you stay connected – talk, text, web surf, and more – wherever the sun shines.
1. Novothink Surge iPhone Solar Charger Case
The Surge, the only Apple-licensed product of its kind, is a protective
iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS case with a built-in solar charger. The sleek, non-slip shell uses its embedded solar panel to power an internal lithium-ion polymer battery, which then charges your iPhone. A half-hour in the sun yields a half-hour of talk time.
Novothink’s lightweight, sturdy case stands up to outdoor adventure in a rainbow of fun colors. Slip a wrist strap or a rock-climbing carabiner through the shell’s cutout, attach it to your running shorts, mountain bike, or CamelBak, and head for the hills.
Its illuminated LED meter makes it easy to tell how much power’s left. The rest is up to the sun, you, and Novothink’s free iPhone Solar Planner app. Download it to estimate your phone’s daily solar needs.
Bonus: Its USB port lets you charge your iPhone (and sync it with iTunes) without removing your iPhone from the case.
Get a closer look at the Solar Surge in this video review from last year’s CES convention.
2. Voltaic Solar Spark iPad-Charging Case
Voltaic‘s hardy solar-paneled case, made from recycled materials, protects and charges your iPad (or other tablets that fit in it) when you’re out and about. The waterproof tote generates 8 watts of power to keep your tablet going for hours — but not very quickly. It needs 8 to 9 hours (!) of direct sunlight to dish out a full iPad charge. Still, it’s one of the hardiest solar tablet bags we’ve seen. Look for it online and in stores soon.
Bonus: You can stash your keys, cell phone, iPod, or other small electronics and stuff in its mesh pockets. Even better, you can charge your cell phone with it, too.
3. Logitech K750 Wireless Solar Keyboard
Pitch black darkness isn’t a problem for Logitech’s slim (.33″-thick), solar-charging keyboard. You can take it anywhere inside or outside, cloudy or not, night or day – hold the precipitation. It’ll work (with your PC laptop) on the campus green, in a nightclub, or deep in a cave (er, should you get the urge to go spelunking with a keyboard). The 2.4GHz wireless wonder operates for up to 3 months without any sunlight and charges in world’s darkest places — even, in fact, at the Arctic Circle.
Bonus: It saves you the cost of batteries and the Earth the cost of toxic acid runoff.
4. Etón American Red Cross Solarlink AM/FM/NOAA Radio with Hand Crank
Who would’ve thought something as far away as the sun could save us in an emergency? The American Red Cross. The nonprofit partnered with Etón to create a handheld, solar-powered AM/FM/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio that doubles as an LED flashlight, an alarm clock, and a cell phone charger.
The radio’s USB port charges most portable electronics, including MP3 players, e-readers, and more importantly, USB blood glucose monitors (for diabetics), USB oxygen machines (for asthmatics), and USB-heated gloves and blankets. Not enough sunlight? No worries; its retractable hand crank will come to the rescue.
We wouldn’t want to be without this little lifesaver during a natural disaster, when access to latest news and the ability to call for help are critical.
Stash one in your house, glove box, or camping kit.
Bonus: It comes with an disaster preparedness guide and good karma
– a donation to the Red Cross.