Solio Classic Universal Hybrid Charger

There is a lot of talk both from industry insiders and consumers about making green choices when it comes to products. Unfortunately, few products give you instant satisfaction. The sustainability story for most products is linked to materials or manufacturing. So we were quite excited by the prospect of the Solio, a handheld portable solar charger for everything from cell phones to iPods.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
solio.png

There is a lot of talk both from industry insiders and consumers about making green choices when it comes to products. Unfortunately, few products give you instant satisfaction. The sustainability story for most products is linked to materials or manufacturing. So we were quite excited by the prospect of the Solio, a handheld portable solar charger for everything from cell phones to iPods.

The sleek, three-armed Solio Classic is a hybrid charger, meaning it can be powered up by the sun or plugged into a wall socket to charge its 3.6-volt, 1600mAh lithium-ion battery that will hold a solar charge for a year. Weighing in at 5.6 ounces, it has a rated output of 4 -12V, 0 - 1 Amp (max) and a solar panel output of 155mA at 6V. Folded up, it fits in the palm of a hand. It comes with a wall charger and adaptors for foreign outlets as well as a kit of charger "tips" that allow the charger to work with a wide variety of cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, GPS units and MP3 players. It also comes with a suction cup attachment that will hold the device on a window for charging.

After a short learning period, we found that the Solio works more or less as advertised. You need to plug it into the wall to create the initial charge. We used it on a road trip to Moab, leaving it splayed open in the car to charge up or charge our phones directly as we drove. While we were on rides, we would leave the Solio charging in the car. At night, we could power up the phones off all the juice it sucked up during the day,

We also took it on a trip to Europe, where it was extremely useful since we did not have to carry along wall-outlet adaptors for all of our chargers. On the plane ride, we used the suction cup to charge our iPods on the plane window -- a big bonus, since we did not have to bring a laptop for charging. After long bike rides or hikes, we left it on the terrace at our hotel and used it to charge everything up at night.

We appreciated traveling without the tangle of iPod, cell phone and camera chargers that normally clutter our carry-on bags. Typically, we have to carry different chargers for each cell phone. But, with the Solio, we simply carried the different device tips in a Ziploc bag. The one big downside is that Solio is not powerful enough to charge a laptop.

But our primary concern is that the Soilo charger is not intuitive to use out of the box. It took some tinkering to figure out exactly how to make sure that it was charging our electronic devices from the sun and not running down its battery. A blinking red light comes on when it's charging, but there is no alarm or way to know if it has stopped charging. It also takes a long time to charge up the Solio battery (eight to 10 hours of direct sunlight, four hours with the wall charger). For some reason (convenience? laziness?), we still use our wall charger on a normal basis, although we have been keeping the Solio in the car for charging and to have something available when batteries die.

One of our testers said the unforeseen benefit is that he's used the Solio in a pinch -- when he left his wall charger in a café or at home by accident. But the aspect of Solio that excited us the most was that the device is meant to create a "net energy deficit over its lifetime," meaning it will more than make up for the energy used to manufacture, package and bring it to market. There is a lot of talk about carbon neutral products, wherein the amount of carbon produced in their manufacture is reduced and offset (alternative energy credits purchased to balance out or "offset" the carbon used). But offsetting itself is ripe with controversy since some carbon-offset traders use questionable metrics and profit heavily off the exchange. Solio plants trees to offset its carbon production, and the company has a noble plan to distribute the device in Africa. Products like apparel may be carbon neutral when they are created, yet it costs energy to wash and care for them. With the Solio, you get an immediate tangible benefit -- the charging icon lights up on your cell phone without plugging into the wall. That just feels good.

We have not yet tested the brand new Solio Hybrid 1000, which was released in the first week of October. The new model is geared more toward rugged outdoor use -- there's just one solar panel arm, and it sports a carabiner attachment so you can charge while hiking, riding, climbing, etc.

SNEWS® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $79

For more information:www.solio.com

Related

Solio updates their iconic design with the new and improved CLASSIC2

OAKLAND, Calif. (May 23, 2012) – Solio, developer of battery packs + solar chargers and lighting products, announces the launch of the CLASSIC2, a powerful and modern take on Solio’s iconic debut charger. Now a decade old, Solio’s substantial collection of user feedback has ...read more

Solio and professional skier Caroline Gleich launch ambassador program

OAKLAND, Calif. - (March 15, 2012) – Solio, the decade-old leader in the hand-held battery packs and solar chargers category, announces support for professional skier, stand up paddler, and environmental advocate, Caroline Gleich. Solio will look to Gleich for product testing, ...read more

Solio’s New BOLT Solar Charger Pairs with the Kindle Fire

OAKLAND, Calif. (November 16, 2011) – Amazon’s Kindle Fire, just released, is the company’s reentry to the tablet market, offering a vast content library and competitive price point. The Fire has drawn rave reviews among consumers but devotees of Amazon’s previous Kindle ...read more

Back-to-School 2011: Solio helps students stay connected

OAKLAND, Calif. (September 1, 2011) – Solio, leading developer of hand-held solar chargers and lighting products, is a sustainable solution for students looking to keep bookbag essentials like mp3 players, cell phones, and digital cameras powered during long days on campus. Back ...read more

Solio’s BOLT Solar Charger Powers the New Barnes & Noble Nook

OAKLAND, Calif. - (November 17, 2011) - Available in stores November 18, the Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet is the company’s lightest and fastest Wi-Fi®-ready tablet, offering the best in HD entertainment. Solio’s new BOLT solar charger is a compatible powerhouse for extending the ...read more

Solio Supports National Preparedness Month with Solar Solutions

OAKLAND, Calif. – Solio, leading developer of hand-held solar chargers and lighting products, supports September’s National Preparedness Month, a coalition by FEMA to help communities organize relief and provide communication strategies in times of emergency. Solio’s proven ...read more

Never Buy Batteries Again with Solio’s new CLIP-MINI

OAKLAND, Calif. (January 10, 2012) – Solio, leading developer of hand-held battery packs and solar chargers, announces the launch of the CLIP-MINI, the first in a series of rechargeable lighting products from the innovative brand. The CLIP-MINI allows users to harness the clean ...read more

Never buy batteries with Solio's new CLIP-MINI solar light

OAKLAND, Calif. (April 11, 2012) – Solio, leading developer of hand-held battery packs and solar chargers, announces the release of the CLIP-MINI, the first in a series of rechargeable lighting products from the innovative brand. The CLIP-MINI allows users to harness the clean ...read more

Natural Clothing with Solar-Power Chargers Being Developed at Colorado State University

FORT COLLINS - Colorado State University apparel design and production researchers and students are working to develop natural-fiber outdoor clothing that can charge MP3 devices, tablets, computers, GPS units and cell phones with built-in -- but comfortable to wear -- solar ...read more