Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger: What Indiana Jones Would Use To Charge His iPad [Review]

Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger: What Indiana Jones Would Use To Charge His iPad [Review]

There’s nothing like wandering through the Outback, camping under the stars…with an iPad: It can help identify the constellation you’re gazing at, let you sneak in a few chapters from your latest read or track your odyssey. That is, if you can keep the thing juiced.

Solar power is the obvious choice, but there aren’t many portable solar panels with the ability to charge the iPad; add the requirement that the panel be truly rugged and your choices become very, very slim. Luckily, the Joos Orange solar panel ($150), the outfit’s first product, may be the only choice you’ll need to consider.

What’s Hot:

There’re four ways in which the Orange really shines.

1. It’s rugged. The whole thing is completely waterproof — like, use-it-underwater waterproof. The unit is sealed, and there’s a rubber gasket that fits over the outlet. I’m not sure I’d ever be in a positon to have to generate solar power underwater, but I’m sure there are some whale researchers somewhere who are going to go nuts over this capability. We did actually submerge the Orange in about a foot of water for a while just to test this, and it passed.

It’s also shock proof, dirt proof and any other kind of proof that matters in the outdoors (note: not tested for bear-proofness).

2. It’s got a massive battery. The panel is stuffed with an enormous 20Wh, 5,400 mAh battery. For perspective, that’s 3.5 times the capacity of an iPhone 4 battery, or about 0.75 times the capacity of an iPad 2’s battery. Does this translate into, say, being able to fill the iPad up three quarters when charging from absolutely dead? Not quite — we reached about 60 percent on the iPad (Joos says this is because the iPad is not very efficient at charging) — but it’s still one whopper of a battery.

Because the battery is so large, and takes a such long time to charge under the sun — we clocked about a five percent charge per hour — Joos recommends you begin your expedition with a fully charged Orange by using the supplied USB charging cable, then keep the battery topped off via the solar panel when out in the field.

3. It can charge an iPad. Not all solar chargers can, because — just like most charging solutions designed for the iPhone — they aren’t able to supply enough amps to charge the iPad. But the Orange can. Charging is also pretty straightforward: just plug one end of its special cable into the Orange, and attach one of six supplied adapters to the other end, plug in the hungry gadget and you’re good to go.

4. It uses high-grade components. The transparent cover over the photovoltaic cell is made from a non-yellowing, rugged urethane; the cell itself is a high-efficiency monocrystalline unit, and the cells are “connected in tandem,” which is supposed to give the Orange better performance in shaded areas; in fact, the Orange performed well in this respect, and kept charging even when in moderate shade.

There’s other good stuff too — little details, like the waterproof drybag the connector and adapters come with, a big round slot in the panel’s housing for securing the unit with a cable lock, and two LEDs for charging status and battery level. There’s also a power management applet for the Mac — though, oddly, not one yet for the iPad (Joos says this is coming).

What’s Not:

The Orange takes forever and a day (almost literally) to charge. This is most likely due to its gigantor mega-battery, but still, it’d be nice if the thing took less than the almost two days to fully charge under the sun.

The two LEDs — one that shows how well the Orange is charging by varying the speed of it’s blinks, and the other that displays charge level through the number of blinks — were difficult to see in direct sunlight.

The output jack on the Orange is proprietary; lose the accessory cable and you’re stuck having to buy another from Orange — you can’t just plug in an Apple 30-pin connecter, as with some other solar chargers.

Verdict:

An expedition-quality solar panel that’ll keep your iPad juiced come hell or high water; certainly the latter, anyway.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger: What Indiana Jones Would Use To Charge His iPad [Review]

Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger: What Indiana Jones Would Use To Charge His iPad [Review]

  • Andres339

    can it charge the iPhone asa well?

  • Davidjmat

    yes it can charge an iPhone 2.5 times off a full battery

  • Mike Rathjen

    I lost interested at the proprietary cable. It should have a USB port.

  • Lyndawitt

    i’ve liked my voltaic solutions… http://www.voltaicsystems.com/

  • JonathanRWegner

    Awesome to combine this with a LifeProof case — they’re both water proof, dust proof, shock proof and slim line. Nice!

  • Ryan Brown

    Yea I bought this solar usb charger the day it was release and shipped it to me overnight.

    Its a very well built unit but compared to the other more powerful options on the market its to big, heavy, and under powered. What really sucked about the charger was the special cables that you need to hook it up to charge different devices, and trust me its not very hard to loose the cables and adapter tips, I lost them just at my house. It would have been a much better design to have a regular USB output port so no special adapters are needed ever. They could easily change this. The special cable that when plugged in will show the state of charge of the battery only worked some times for me which was aggravating. The Computer software never displayed correct data either.

    http://www.PortableSolarPower.Biz

  • Jpmoreira

    Why wasting so much money in a charger if you can get the same for a 40$? take a look: http://qrky.co/syMblh

  • xTradaTrade

    Exactly, my thoughts as well.   As I was reading it I was thinking “this was it!”…. until the most obvious thing, no built in USB port and then to top it off you have to use their special cable instead of using the mini to regular usb adaptor and the original iPad cable.  SERIOUSLY???  How frustrating!!!

    Here’s some advice for the company, drop all the secondary stuff (iPad app) and get your product revamped with a standard sized built-in USB port! Your sales will probably more than triple.

  • TechUser

    The only connector on the Joos panel is indeed a standard female USB Micro AB slot.  Nothing at all propretary about it.  The output charging cable, and it’s tips are the propretary part.  However, I happened to have male Micro to female USB A adapter and succsessfully used my OEM white Apple iPod cable to charge both 1st Gen and 4th Gen iPod Touch devices.

  • Andrew Storms

    I actually found this article while trying to figure out a key detail in off-the-grid and rugged iPhone use…the charging port on the life proof case is really tight and looks like the Joos cable might not enter…I haven’t been able to use the life proof case with my first generation iPhone charger; only the newer ones.  It’s hard to describe the difference in geometry, but connectors on the new ones are less deep if measured from the phone towards the cable.  Anybody tried these two aftermarket products together?

  • alexinthesun

    Is this similar to this one: http://www.earthtechproducts.com/solar-joos-orange.html ? I have this version of the Solar JOOS Orange. It’s really handy!

  • SolarGirl07

    I bought this product a couple months ago called a TravelSol-2x. It is awesome! It charges my iphone and digital camera really fast when i’m on camping trips. It also will charge my bigger devices such as my Ipad and Nook. Here is the link if anyone wants to check it out:

    http://www.siliconsolar.com/travelsol-2x-p-503265.html

    It is reasonably priced and works great! :-)

About the author

Eli MilchmanWhen he was eight, Eli Milchman came home from frolicking in the Veld one day and was given an Atari 400. Since then, his fascination with technology has made him an intrepid early adopter of whatever charming new contraption crosses his path — which explains why he's Cult of Mac's test editor-at-large. He calls San Francisco home, where he works as a journalist and photographer. Eli has contributed to the pages of Wired.com and BIKE Magazine, among others. Hang with him on Twitter.

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