Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Odyssey Gear: Devotec Solar Charger

In researching solutions for portable charging, I found the Devotec Solar Charger that seemed to be a good fit to my needs. 1800mAh storage battery, rechargeable from a built in solar panel, USB port, or wall socket... essentially, all the features of a Solio unit except for the swiveling triple panel and a little less expensive.

The unit is nice and small, perhaps even a little too small. I like that it has an LED on it to indicate if it is receiving enough solar power to charge, and the LED varies in intensity with different lighting conditions. It has a second LED labeled charge, but I've not yet seen it lit.

It comes nicely packaged and well equipped with changeable tips to charge darn near any device, and with a USB female converter, almost any device that isn't represented can probably be covered too. (like, say a digital camera with a funky not-quite mini-USB connector).

Only downsides I've found so far is that there is no way to figure out how much of a charge is currently stored in the battery. Reading the instruction sheet only indicates that the charge light comes on when the unit is fully charged using a USB or wall socket, presumably to prevent overcharging/overheating.

I've also had some issues with getting it to connect to my iPhone and charge it, almost as though there is a slightly loose or mismatched connector, as jiggling the connector yields the charging connection tone. In theory the unit when fully charged can recharge the iPhone just short of twice.

Since I can't see how charged the battery is, I can't gauge how much power is being collected and stored on a sunny day on my kitchen window. Based on 2 attempts at charging the phone, the answer, at least on cloudy days is, unsurprisingly, not much.

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