Solar power for wilderness treks

Quick Takes

December 30, 2005|By MARY BETH REGAN

So, you got a fancy new iPod over the holidays. Have you considered how to juice it up on long voyages away from civilization? Two brothers have come up with an ingenious device that uses the power of the sun to keep your iPod humming.

It's called a Solio portable solar charger ($100), and outdoor enthusiasts are raving about it. Outside Magazine picked it as a top cool gadget for 2005 after its U.S. release last summer.

Solio is an egg-shaped blob with solar-cell petals that unfold like a fan to capture the sun's energy and store it in batteries. Once charged, hook the Solio to an iPod or phone, and it transfers its stored electricity.

Mark Horner, co-founder of Solio with younger brother Christopher, says orders have been "absolutely insane." Most are placed over the Internet, but he expects the product in stores this spring.

How much time it takes to charge a Solio depends on your sunlight. In general, you can expect about an hour of music from about an hour of sunlight. Or, you can charge your Solio with an AC adapter before you leave home and use it to juice your iPod in the wilderness.

Bottom Line: This is a great gadget for the ultimate gearhead, but it might be overkill for the recreational outdoorsmen. Visit solio.com or call 800-653-4099.

Mary Beth Regan

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