Solar charger is big enough to blot out the sun [Reviews]

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Solartab solar charger
Solartab will fit in your bag. But it won't leave much room for the things you might want to charge.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Solartab 5.5-watt solar charger

It’s a problem when you get caught away from home with a dead phone. And it’s a bigger problem when you find yourself stranded with a dead phone and a flatlined portable charger. But one company has come up with a solution to both of those problems.

Solartab is a power source with a massive capacity and a handy ability: It draws energy from the sun like Superman. It can hold an impressive 13,000 mAh, which is enough to recharge an iPad Air 2 twice or an iPhone more than five times, depending on your model. And the best part is that all of this power is basically free.

The worst part, though, is that the Solartab is massive.

Who says a car charger needs to look boring?

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Lust List Tylt car charger
The Ribbn lends a touch of style to your car-charging game.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Best List: Ribbn car charger by Tylt

Simple, elegant and fun, the Ribbn car charger is no-muss, no-fuss.

Offering up 4.8 amps, Tylt’s little Lightning charger plugs into a standard cigarette lighter socket and adds a bit of bright-blue bling to your car’s interior.

Keep your MacBook powered for days with this smart backpack

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Ampl backpack is all charged up. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The SmartBackpack from AMPL will keep your gadgets optimally charged all day. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
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LAS VEGAS — Companies are throwing sensors into everything this year. Toothbrushes, cookie jars, mouth guards … you name it, and someone is trying to cram some sort of sensor into it. Next up is your backpack.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 AMPL Labs’ upcoming SmartBackpack promises to keep your tech items safe and charged for days by combining “smartsensors” with battery packs woven into the fabric. The end result is a supercharging backpack that can tackle anything from an iPhone to a MacBook, allowing wearers to charge multiple devices on the go.

“We found that 85 percent of consumers worry about their devices running out of power at least once a week,” said AMPL’s David Migdal. “So we developed our SmartBackpack to address all their power needs.”

The Cult of Mac Guide to Traveling Light

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Everything for a couple weeks away, including transport.
Everything for a couple weeks away, including transport. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Travel can be a chance to practice minimalism, or an opportunity to drive yourself nuts. What am I talking about? Luggage. You can pare down your essentials to fit in a carry-on – even if you’re away for a month – or you can throw in every item of clothing and every charger you have. The second approach will result in a broken back, and you’ll still find that you left something essential at home.

Over the years, I’ve perfected my packing technique so that I only take the bare minimum. And when I say “perfected,” I mean “struggled with.” But it works for me, and the principles can be applied even if you’re the kind of person who hires a boy to carry your trunks for you when you take a cruise on the Titanic.

So here’s the Cult of Mac Guide to Traveling Light, a roundup of strategies, product recommendations and other tips to make your next trip a breeze.

Gadget roundup: The week’s best gear for travelers, campers and chefs

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The week's best gadget announcements, rolled up into a nougaty gallery.
The week's best gadget announcements, rolled up into a nougaty gallery.

[avocado-gallery ids=”280613,280606,280604,280605,280607,280608,280610,280609,280611,280612″]

Cooking, charging, camera-ing and generally staying out-of-doors are the themes this week. But if you are stuck inside out of the sun, don’t worry – we have you covered too.

This week we get cooking with a gadget-charging camping stove and a slick, iPhone-friendly food thermometer. We also do DIY projects (without tenderizing our thumbs) with the German Latthammer, charge our flagging phones with a purse that packs a built-in battery, and record everything using the super-dorky Lifelogger camera. Is the sun shining? Yes it is!

Tiny BOLT Is A Charger And Backup Battery In One

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The little BOLT Charger Battery is as clever as it is good looking. The USB wall-charger packs a backup battery into its tiny body, as body that leads its maker to call it the “The World’s Smallest Wall Charger + Battery Backup.”

I’m not sure how true that it, but who cares? It fits in your pocket and it’ll juice your iPhone twice, even without a wall to shove it into.

Scosche’s superCUBE flip Improves On Apple’s Cuboid iPhone Charger

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Ever “hefted” the standard North American iPhone charging cube in your hand and thought, “Boy, this thing would be way better if the prongs would fold up, and maybe if the thing could juice an iPad as well as my iPhone. And hey, why not make it black so I can lose it more easily too?”

Well, you’re not alone, because somebody at Scosche thought the exact same thing, and the superCUBE flip was born.

iQi Adapter Proves Wireless Charging Isn’t Ready For The Mainstream [Review]

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iQi Wireless Charger by Fone Salesman
Category: Chargers
Works With: iPhone 5/S
Price: $21 plus ~$25 for charging pad

Wireless charging is a beautiful concept that fails to live up to its promise in reality. That’s not to say it’s unusable – far from it. I’d put wireless charging pads in the same place as Wi-Fi was some years back – useful when it works, but frustrating to get working properly.

The little iQi panel goes some way to fixing up the main problem of wireless charging on the iPhone. Because it’s not built in, you usually need a bulky case to pair with the charger itself. The iQi is so tiny it can be used with any case.