Pocket-Sized Gadgets Use Sunlight to Power Up Devices

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-04-13

Everybody knows that the Achilles' heel of electronic devices is keeping them charged up-especially when one is traveling.

When you're on the road, it's often hit-or-miss as to whether you will be able to find a power outlet that works-and a window of time to use it-in order to charge up a cell phone, PDA, iPod, camera or laptop.

While there have been slight improvements in batteries during the last few years, battery life is still an issue of contention, especially for older devices.

In the interest of both green IT and overall functionality, some new, eco-friendly  charge-up alternatives have come into the market that we believe eWEEK readers want to know about.

"There are many budget-friendly portable charging devices on the market that harness the power of the sun-a free and totally clean energy source," said Paul Holstein of CableOrganizer.com, an online retailer offering a plethora of eco-friendly electronics items.

"These mobile solar chargers also reduce the need for multiple chargers or adapters for each piece of equipment requiring power."

Here is a listing of a few portable solar charging devices CableOrganizer.com offers to help consumers to go green:

JuiceBar Solar Charger: This enables you to charge several devices using light, without having to tote around a variety of AC adapters and cords. The compact device is equipped with solar cells that begin to charge immediately upon contact with light. It includes 12 of the most commonly used adapters for cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, portable gaming systems and others. Price: $42.83.

PowerMonkey-eXplorer AC/Solar Charger: With this one, you can recharge an iPod, GPS unit, cell phone or PDA any of three ways. It includes a solar cell that can completely charge a cell phone with only 6 hours of sunlight, or it can be plugged into the wall in any of 150 countries, thanks to the four AC adapter tips it comes with. It can also be charged from a PC or Mac with the included USB adapter. The PowerMonkey holds enough "juice" for 40 hours of iPod time or 96 hours of cell phone talk time. It includes 10 device adapter tips, an AC adapter, four AC adapter tips and a carry pouch. Price: $149.21.

Universal Solar Battery Charger: This one accepts D, C, AA and AAA-size batteries in pairs. Its needle meter displays the strength of the sunlight hitting the solar cell and gives you an estimate of the charging time for different battery types, based on that measurement. The charger also accepts Gum (prismatic) batteries. Ironically, the batteries are not included. Price: $22.43.

XPower Solar Portable PowerPack: Useful for camping trips, road trips, tailgating or power outage emergencies, this XPower Solar Portable Power Pack is lighter, quieter and greener than most generators out there. A removable solar panel soaks up the sun's energy, providing up to 400 watts of power for everything from laptops and cell phone chargers to blenders and small TVs. Price: $193.49.

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