The trouble with being a mobile kind of guy is that the proliferation of mobile gadgets that I tend to carry around with me demand a small suitcase to bring the power supplies along if I am to be away from home for longer than a day or so. Sure, battery longevity is improving all the time, and convergence means that I can carry multiple technologies with me in a single gadget these days, but the power supply problem remains. If I want to travel light and leave the laptop at home, that means I don’t want to fill a laptop sized bag up with plugs, PSUs and cables to be honest. Which is where portable multi-purpose chargers come in, such as the Devotec Solar Charger.
This tiny device measures just 95x43x10mm and weighs in at 80g, that’s about the same size as a 1st generation iPod Nano in case you were wondering, but manages to pack enough punch to charge the average BlackBerry or MP3 player twice before needing to be re-charged itself. The built-in 1800mAh Lithium Ion battery pack can be topped up by way of a small AC adaptor (well at least it’s just the one to replace the handful you might otherwise have to pack), a USB cable or, as the name suggests, from good old fashioned sunlight. I have been using it in cahoots with an optional USB travel plug which means that I can charge it up from the mains no matter where I may be, in any of 180 different countries, during the night if I wish. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the 5.5V/80mA solar panel has a max efficiency of 15%, the output voltage is 5.0 -6.0V while the output current is 350-800mA – and it takes 12 hours to charge fully using the solar panel alone.
There are lots of things I really like about this unit, such as the small size and weight, the fact that a single charge will last for around 3 months if you don’t actually use it and the swathe of connectivity adaptors included right out of the box. This means that you can get charging right away whether you have a Nokia, Motorola, Samsung or Sony Ericsson cellphone, a BlackBerry, Sony PSP or digital camera, any 5V device with a mini USB connector and, of course, an iPod. Actually, not ‘of course’ at all and representing the only real problem with the Devotec Solar Charger is the fact that it will not charge some Apple devices such as the iPhone and iTouch. It does handle older iPods without complaint, but Devotec admit that Apple have put some nifty security features in some of the newer products that are causing problems which it is working on solving as fast as it can.
So if you need your iPhone/iTouch wherever you are, perhaps the Devotec is not the portable charging solution you are looking for. When to everyone else, and pretty much every other mobile device as well, then it most certainly is. Hugely flexible and offering superb value for money at just $40 (£20) it’s the one mobile gadget I really would not want to leave home without…