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Solio Review

Solio Classic-i

First Impressions

As an effort to become more ecologically minded, I invested in a Solio Classic-i charger, which will be useful in recharging smaller devices such as the Nintendo DS, iPod touch, and (of course) mobile phones.  Considering that most cell phones need to get recharged every day or few, the Solio should garner quite a bit of use.

I’ve had an eye on the Solio for the past few years, and I see devices such as this as the Trojan Horse to introduce alternative energy products into households.  Currently, there are very few products which can be purchased off the shelf at your local retail store (small calculators and driveway lanterns being the two items which rely on solar power).  Considering the lack of readily available alternative energy products, we as a populace are still far away from the goal of obtaining our power outside of fossil fuels.

The challenge is to see how well the Solio works for my needs by charging my devices, instead of drawing powering from the wall, car, or computer.

Redux – 1 Week Later

I’ve been using the Solio Classic-i for about a week now. The first time I used it, it charged up my iPhone pretty well. However, subsequent attempts to charge the Solio haven’t been quite as successful. I paid an extra $5 for a suction cup to adhere the Solio to the window, but the Solio was too heavy for the suction cup and the Solio kept falling off. Not worth it. I also purchased two adapters, one for the iPhone/iPod touch, and another for a Samsung phone. Unfortunately, I took a guess at which Samsung adapter to buy. I guessed wrong. I’ll need to seek out another location to try and find the proper iGo adapter for the Samsung phone. I believe I might have seen iGo adapter tips at an AT&T store, so I will check there.

During my recent vacation, I placed the Solio in the back of the car, behind the head rests, and that gave it pretty good exposure to the sun. I will need to give this more of a shot to determine how well this will work for day-to-day activities. I enjoy the prospect of being a little more eco-friendly, and I love how the Solio is a great consumer-friendly product, but I feel there is still a very long road ahead before similar products will heavily populate the general market.

Tip: To determine how much charge the Solio currently has, press the power button on the back. It should flash 1 to 5 times, 1 being the lowest, 5 meaning close to a full charge. Personally, I’d prefer a system like old Apple laptop batteries displayed by showing a row of lights to display how much battery power was left.

Further Thoughts – 6 Months Later

A couple more thoughts about the Solio after having used this product for half a year:

  • For best use, place the Solio in a window that can get as much light during the day. At one point, I was moving the Solio from window to window throughout the day, but finally found one good location.
  • It takes around 2 – 3 days of good, constant sunlight to fully charge up the Solio.
  • Solio products and iGo adapters can be purchased at Radio Shack. Radio Shack also sells other energy-saving products such as other iGo products, solar kits, and Z-wave devices (for home automation).
  • It appears to be able to charge up a device as quickly as if the device was being charged via a household outlet.
  • Doesn’t seem to stop charging a device even once the device’s battery is full. This can unnecessarily drain the Solio’s own charge.  I checked with Solio’s technical support, and said that the Solio will stop charging a device once it is full, but this might take up to 15 minutes.
  • The Solio is a great device to use when on-the-go, but it is not ideal for all situations.  The Solio cannot be left in a hot car, since it will stop charging (for safety reasons so the battery doesn’t melt) once the internal temperature of the device reaches 120 °F (49 °C).
  • This is a promising device, but it is still more of a novelty than a practical device for daily use. Perhaps in the future when solar panels can generate more energy from sunlight (even on cloudy days) the Solio will become more useful for day-to-day applications.

Categories: Classic-i, Solar, Solio
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