Wanted: Solar Toys

I’m in a predicament. I’ve fallen in love with two separate gadgets, but I only have room in the budget for one. Both are solar and, therefore, burying the needle in greenness, so that alone makes me covet them highly. But they’re both also portable, which just goes so well with my highly mobile lifestyle.

Here’s the breakdown, as I understand it, on these on-the-go solar recharging gadgets. You might even call this a “travel gear review,” except I haven’t actually physically tested either. All this is based purely on research and word-of-mouth.

Solio Classic Hybrid Charger

Solio Solar Charger

Solio Solar Charger

Let’s start with the Solio, since it’s the one I’ll more likely get, if only because it’s the more affordable of the two. At $99 ($169 for the Magnesium Edition, for the “serious adventurer”), it claims to be able to recharge all your handheld gadgets, and comes with several adaptors to make that promise happen.
Why I Want It: Besides the fact I don’t even know of anything similar on the market, the Solio can also be charged the old-fashioned way (i.e., wall socket), so you can take your charge on the go. Plus, it’s compact and light-weight enough to take on hikes.
Price: $99
Weight: 5.6 oz. (CNET claims it’s more like 5.8)
Colors: Silver, Black, White
Sun Factor: One hour of sunlight (very direct sunlight, reminds CNET) provides 10 hours of cell talk time, or 40 minutes of MP3 music.

Voltaic Solar Backpack
offgrid solar backpack voltaicWhen I saw one of these marching down Seventh Avenue the other day, I drooled. Seriously, with all the walking I do, I could charge half of Seventh Avenue myself. Voltaic makes several styles of bags — backpack, messenger bags, converter (with water bladder for biking/hiking) — all of which are made out of recycled materials for uber-greenness.
Why I Want It: The latest model can charge full laptops. No, that wasn’t a typo. Crikey, I could head into the hinterlands for days and write my heart out!
Price: $249
Weight: 3.5 lbs., including battery and solar panels
Colors: Silver, Orange, Green, Charcoal (where’s the brown???)
Sun Factor: 4-6 hours of sunlight to fully recharge a cell phone

Just something to keep in mind. Christmas/Hanukkah really isn’t that far away.

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