So you've finally got your new iPhone. You stroke its sleek shiny lines and imagine it purrs seductively at you. Then the battery goes dead. The Solar Surge is designed to get you out of the bind. It's a lightweight slip-on solar panel that cleverly charges your iPhone 3G or 3GS and iPod Touch whenever there is enough sunlight available, making the hassle of charging on the go, well, no hassle at all really.
Energy from the sun is converted to reusable electricity via durable Photovoltaic cells in the skin. If the iPhone is already fully charged, energy is diverted to the internal reserve battery for future use and moved between these two sources as required. Additionally the skin is smart enough to charge whenever adequate sunlight is available and smart enough to stop charging when the thermal sensor suggests over-heating is a possibility. LED indicator lights are provided to show charge status, and if there is inadequate sunlight for charging you can always revert to the USB charger as a fallback.
The solar panel outputs 5.5V at 100 mAh in full sun. To you and me that means 2 hours in full sun will recharge your iPhone for 30 minutes of talk time on a 3G network, and 60 minutes on a 2G network via an integrated rechargeable 1500 mAh 3.7 V lithium-ion polymer battery that offers 120% capacity of the iPhone 3G. The battery technology prevents overcharging and provides protection from extreme temperature which should minimize the risk of you accidentally cooking your iProduct. At US$70 it's comparable in price to other products available but this is the first to receive the official sanction from Apple which suggests design advantages over the competition.
Its slim, ergonomic design and rubber-grip side sections means you can use your 3G or 3G S iPhone or iPod Touch as normal without any loss of functionality. In fact the hard-shell skin is so practical that you need never remove it, which has been a criticism of other docking accessories. The skin allows free access to all the ports and buttons, and its cradle-like design provides a large panel for collecting rays and uninhibited access to the touch facia simultaneously. Most significantly, you can sync with iTunes via USB without removing the handset, and speaker ports prevent sound dampening - no quality is sacrificed to practicality! No style either - cases for the iPhone 3G and 3G S (NT01) come in 8 colors and 4 colors for the iTouch (NT02) in funky metallic and matt finish.
The box additionally includes the Novocord for attachment to you or your stuff and a standard USB 2.0 cable for secondary charging. You can accessorize with a belt-clip, and access to the online solar planner allows you to work out how much sun-baking your hybrid sun-skin needs to do for your talk requirements.
And as if all this wasn't enough to make you skip, your iPhone might not be green, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you're utilizing a clean, renewable, and non-polluting source of energy.
Reviews so Far
The Solar Surge for iPod Touch (2nd generation only) has been available since September, and the skin for iPhone 3G and 3Gs was released last month. Early commentators took a dim view of the cost and battery life, size (the case will double the width of the gadget), plus the need to lay it face down whilst charging which may well maximize charging whilst minimizing usability. Its green footprint is also under debate, but the most compelling criticism is the lack of compatibility for first generation iProducts, and the teensy weensy issue of Apple suggesting that direct sunlight is bad for the 'explosive' iPhone. Ho hum. Charge at your peril, or perhaps just charge the skin separately.
We're interested in your comments - have you got a Novothink Solar Surge? Will you be buying one? What do you think?