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Xenophanes

Solio iPod Charger Review

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I wanted to stick my little bit of information regarding the Solio solar iPod charger. I really don't think it should be called an "iPod Charger" since it was likely designed for cell phones instead and was later adapted to use with the iPods. At any rate, I ordered mine directly from Solio.com for $99.95. I choose the white "iPod" charger. Apparently it comes in grey as well, but that model is listed for cell phones. Presumably the only difference between this and the "cell phone" version is connecting cable to the iPod. The various connecters are also available from Solio at $19.99 each.

 

I opened my new Solio and was actually a bit worried that it had been damaged during shipping because the solar panels have a random "cracked" appearance, however some research revealed that this is actually how they are made and it is completely normal. In following the directions I fully charged the Solio via wall current (which is an option as well as solar charging) before use. The Solio has a button on the back which flashes green indicating how full the batteries are or if it is charging the iPod.

 

I own two iPods and have yet to test it fully with my 4G iPod, however I have tested it with my new 5G iPod with video. I ran my iPod to nearly empty and used a fully charged Solio to test it's charging capacity. After a charging cycle I checked the power levels on the iPod and the Solio. The iPod reported a full charge and the Solio reported that it still maintained 1/2 of its full charging capacity. I must state, however that the iPods charge seemed to drop more quickly than if it was charged via my computer. I do not have data to back up this statement, but it appears to be that way.

 

The Solio is really cool how it folds out into a 3 petal flower shape. It feels fairly solid in the hand, but you wouldn't want to drop it from waist height. As you can imagine I am very worried that I will crack, scratch, or damage the solar cell surfaces.

 

The one bad thing about the Solio I have discovered so far is that it is quite difficult to obtain a full charge via sunlight. The directions indicate that 1 hour of sun will result in 1 hour of music play time. Unfortunately my iPod has approximately 20 hours of battery life. To obtain 20 hours of charge on the Solio it would have to theoretically be left in the sun for 20 hours!!! I personally do not feel comfortable leaving a $100 piece of hardware sitting in the sun unattended for many many hours. So I usually just end up grabing some light from my window at work or my short time spent out side.

 

If anything the Solio makes a great external battery extender for the iPod, but the solar charging function seems weaker than I would have hoped. I guess I can't complain now that I can listen to my music even if western civilization falls back to the stone age, but I was hoping for wall current freedom.

 

Final recomendation. If you spend quite a bit of time out doors or you are very environmentally minded, then the Solio might be for you. If you just want an external battery for your iPod, then you might do better looking else where. I like the Solio, but it won't get as much use as I had hoped.

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