What if I told you that you could buy a Bluetooth speaker than you would never need to charge again? “Charlie!” you would say, “Have you lost your mind? Have you been drinking again?” To which I would answer “No” and “Yes” respectively. Because such a speaker does indeed exist. It’s called the Rukus Solar, and it gets its power from the 620 million metric tons of hydrogen fused each second by the Sun’s nuclear furnace.
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Apple’s designs constantly prove that beauty and practicality can exist in the same place, but that’s clearly not the only way to do things. Take a look at the AQUA TEK S, which manages to be possibly the most practical and the most ugly iPhone case ever. It bills itself as “the first ever battery powered, solar charged, rugged under water iPhone 4/4S case on Kickstarter.”
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.
Rumor has it that Apple is already working on a new method of charging our iPhones for 2012, and many believe the company may introduce wireless magnetic charging using technology developed by WiTricity. But according to a report from DigiTimes, future iOS devices may absorb all the energy they need from the sun.
Another sign I should move to San Diego: After playing around with their 15-watt solar panel and a 6oWh HyperMac battery, the folks at Voltaic have found the two perfectly compatible — meaning a MacBook can be taken completely off the grid, and theoretically used without ever needing to be plugged in. Voltaic says you should get about 45 minutes of runtime for every hour in the sun for a 13’ MB/P (much less for more power-hungry units). You can even use the HyperMac to power your MB while it’s charging.
The 60Wh HyperMac battery is $170, and Voltaic’s 15-watt solar charger is $200; that’s just under $400 to create a MacBook that’s perfectly happy out in the boonies (as long as the boonies are bathed in lots of sun).
If a bag is on display at CES, chances are excellent it’s got some kind of snazzy tech feature. Newcomer Powerbag caught our eye with its line of four handsome bags that all include batteries for charging iDevices (or other peripherals); Voltaic — we featured their OffGrid backpack in our Holiday Gift Guide — just launched an iPad case with high-efficiency solar cells slathered all over one side.