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SOL: The $350 Ubuntu laptop that runs on solar power

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August 7, 2013

The SOL is a Ubuntu laptop equipped with a detachable solar panel, which the developers cl...

The SOL is a Ubuntu laptop equipped with a detachable solar panel, which the developers claim will provide 10 hours of battery life after just two hours in the sun

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In the Western world, we tend to take for granted some pretty basic amenities, like reliable electricity. For people living in those corners of the globe where electricity can be scarce, WeWi Telecommunications, Inc. has developed the SOL, a rugged laptop that doesn't rely on a power socket to stay charged. The Ubuntu Linux-powered computer is instead equipped with a detachable solar panel, which the developers claim will provide up to 10 hours of battery life after just two hours in the sun.

We've seen solar-powered laptops before, but never one that promised to be this energy efficient. WeWi claims the SOL never actually needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet to charge, but it still has the option in case you need to keep working late into the night. The solar panel can even detach and connect to an extension cord, so you can use the computer indoors and still keep it charged with direct sunlight.

Aside from benefiting the owner by supplying a readily-available energy source, the SOL's solar panels should also help the environment by reducing air pollution. According to the developers, each SOL computer could prevent approximately a ton of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere during its lifetime simply by not charging it exclusively through a power socket.

WeWi has not revealed a release date for its solar-powered laptop just yet, but the compan...

The designers hope the SOL can serve as a reliable computer for students in developing nations and globe-trotting adventurers alike, which is why the entire device has been designed for durability and built from reinforced materials. Inside the case, the SOL houses an Intel Atom D2500 1.86 GHz Duo Core processor with an Intel 945GSE chipset. Users will have access to 320 GB of HDD storage as well as 2–4 GB of DDRIII SDRAM, depending on what the buyer chooses. The whole computer has been optimized with Ubuntu in mind and comes pre-loaded with a suite of productivity tools, but WeWi has stated that another OS can be installed if needed.

The SOL uses a built-in Intel GMA3600 graphics card with a 13.3 in LCD HD screen, which the designers are confident won't drain the battery too quickly. The laptop has a 3 MP webcam fitted to the front along with two speakers and an internal mic for online video chats, plus inputs for USB 2.0, headphones, and HDMI, among others. It also includes a few options for connecting to the internet, such as Wi-Fi and 3G/4G/LTE, plus connections for GPS and Bluetooth. Customers will even have a choice to add a satellite communications module for especially remote areas.

The laptop has a 3MP webcam fitted to the front along with two speakers and an internal mi...

WeWi has not revealed a release date for its solar-powered laptop just yet, but the company has noted there are two distinct models in the works: the SOL and the SOL Marine, the latter of which will be waterproof. The company is determined to make the computer as accessible as possible, which is why it plans to distribute both versions worldwide at a budget price of US$350 and $400 respectively. Customers will also have a choice between a variety of color schemes for the case, including black, gray, red, and bright green.

Source: SOL

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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12 Comments

I'm all in on this one...i'm not a gamer so high end specs aren't really my thing...but i live in the land of power outages...and actually like Ubuntu.

A water proof version for only 50 dollars more? yep, i'm in there too.

John Hemingway Parkes
7th August, 2013 @ 03:31 am PDT

I like the option of using another operating system. I think it is cool - in a geeky sort of way - and very green. The price gives it a competitive edge too.

I think it could be also be used by campers since the places one goes to does not always have power. It could be good for situations where all power is out; ie Hurrican Sandy on the east coast or Katrina in Louisiana.

BigWarpGuy
7th August, 2013 @ 05:45 am PDT

a standalone panel for other laptops/tablets would be nice too

MG127
7th August, 2013 @ 06:07 am PDT

I wonder how heavy the laptop is, and how rugged the solar panel is too? Could the solar panel be hooked on to a rucksack, and thus will the panel be waterproof too? Perhaps like the Nomad (Goal Zero) solar panel...

Good idea...

Matthew Chard
7th August, 2013 @ 07:19 am PDT

This is just a pipe - dream. I wish it luck! (especially at that price..)

TedF
7th August, 2013 @ 12:01 pm PDT

I would be interested in the SOL marine. But I could care less about the silly solar panels. I assume they are just doing this to get attention. I think anyone with average intelligence will know that powering a computer with the sun is just silly. Based on the picture you might get 5-10 watts of power from that massive heavy, fragile, and expensive PV array. It would be nice if they made a good crank or perhaps a petal generator. What ever happened to the various micro fuel cells we kept hearing about???

Mantion
7th August, 2013 @ 05:48 pm PDT

I like the SOL Marine.

Slowburn
7th August, 2013 @ 08:36 pm PDT

This is really cool for a forest dweller like me. I can't wait to get my hands on it. I believe it is developed through crowd funding too. Crowd funding, and crowd sourcing: True to the spirit of "Ubuntu "

Swami Shailendra Saraswati
8th August, 2013 @ 05:52 am PDT

Nice approach, and maybe useful at times. I know some people working in developing countries, and they could sure benefit from using one of these.

On the other hand, it takes less than half an hour to install Ubuntu on your average laptop (I already did that), and It would be quite simple to add a folding solar module as an option.

The price they ask for the whole package is quite competitive, though. And then it's a ready to run system. Good luck!

martinkopplow
8th August, 2013 @ 06:04 am PDT

Think it might be a better concept to have a standalone cheap solar array that can charge any laptop, say, an ultralight like the Samsung ChromeBook. But Linux would be a better OS for that ultralight.

Rann Xeroxx
8th August, 2013 @ 01:03 pm PDT

Glimpse of the future here! Just a little outside Corporate America's imaginings for the future too! Shades of the return of the Family Circle, Cottage Dwellings, even composting, Aquaponic survival and a very different America, rebuilt on the ruins of Detroit City and the like?

Bruce Miller
12th August, 2013 @ 09:16 am PDT

Solar energy is green energy, the field of application is very wide. Worthy of promotion.

2dealsok
25th August, 2013 @ 06:31 pm PDT
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