With so many of us carrying gadgets and gizmos around with us these days, from phones to tablets to cameras to music players, the need to be able to charge them on the go is a strong one, and while buying a backup battery pack is one option, a better solution might be a portable solar charger that includes a power pack for storage.
There are a variety of portable solar plus storage units on the market, but it seems that most of them are either too big or bulky, too slow, or are undersized for what most of us want them to do. With direct solar charging times for some devices taking the good part of a day for some chargers (which also depends on the size of the battery, obviously), and some solar charger designs that don't easily lend themselves to being carried with us, portable solar chargers haven't really met mainstream charging needs yet.
But with the release of the news about Solpro's newest device, a combination high-performance solar charger and battery storage in a compact unit, that may be changing. With its claim of a 90-minute solar charging time for a smartphone, the new Solpro Helios boasts of being the industry's fastest portable solar charge. By combining a 5000 mAh battery bank, 3 small solar panels, and two charging ports into a pocket-sized device that weighs less than a pound, this new gadget could be the everyday carry solar charger we've been waiting for.
Measuring 5.1" x 3.15" x 0.79" (closed), and weighing in at .77 pounds, the Helios is its own protective case, which opens up to 11" long for solar charging. The 5000 mAh battery is said to fully charge from solar in 4.5 hours (or can be charged in advance via USB), and with the inclusion of dual charging ports, can charge two devices at the same time (5V, 1A and 2.1A).
"Helios offers more than just size and speed; it is also the only smart charger in the solar category, utilizing an algorithm that allows for charging prioritization. This technology enables Helios to recognize and prioritize multiple devices and select the optimal way to charge the user’s devices as quickly as possible." - Solpro
Although the company says the Helios is available online now, and retails for $159, there is no purchase information yet available on the Solpro site. I'll be reviewing one of the Helios solar chargers in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for a hands-on article.
[Update: The Helios is available from Amazon.com.]