Eton’s new BoostSolar a) is here just in time for sunny summer and b) solves many of the problems usually present in solar chargers. It also looks pretty cool, and less like the utili-hippy designs beloved of rivals.
The BoostSolar comes in two parts: The panel, and a backup battery which slots neatly into the main unit. This battery holds 5,000mAh of charge. That’s enough for around a third of a Retina iPad, but plenty to juice an iPad mini from empty to full. And if you have an iPhone you’re golden.
An aside on using the Retina iPad for travel: it sucks. I took one with me on a week-long bike tour last year and it was a constant struggle to keep it charged, even with a solar panel on my bike and regular stops in hotels when I wasn’t camping. It’s just too power-hungry. The mini, on the other hand, is a travelers dream – light, fast-charging and inconspicuous.
The other feature is the 2.1-amp USB output, which will let you dump the battery’s power into your iDevices nice and fast. I use my iPad charger for the mini and my iPhone and it charges them way faster than their own plugs.
Finally, there’s the price – $99 brings solar into the realm of the practical – and the weight – 300-ish grams makes this lighter than the mini you’re charging– both big plusses. Available now, in green or black.