I was lucky enough to get the Solio Classic Hybrid Solar Charger as a review item for us at PPCGeeks. This solar charger isn’t like other ones in the market. Its a hybrid charger, meaning it has an internal battery that you can charger either via the sun or with a USB adapter. So even if you’re in the dark, as long as the Solio Charger has a charge, you can use it to charge your device. It has its own 1650mAh Lithium-Ion Battery, which is bigger than most cell phone batteries. This means that you should be able to get a full charge on your phone from the fully charged Solio Charger.

Features:
-Holds a charge up to 1 year, so it’s ready anytime, day or night
-Charge it from the sun, via USB or from an optional wall charger
-Intelligent charging – Preventative overcharging
-1650mAh Lithium-Ion Battery
-3 high efficiency solar cells
-Multi-function LED light/start button
-Charging cable input (USB/AC)
-5-6V, 800mA output range
-4.8 Watts

Adapter tips included: (You can purchase other tips here)
-Micro USB
-Mini USB
-Female USB
-Nokia
-Samsung3
-LG3
-Sony Ericsson

I took a 300 mile trip the other weekend and decided to put it to the test. To charge it, i left it on the dash in my truck during the day while I was at work. It was a clear sky, so it had direct sunlight almost all day. To indicate how charged the battery is, you press the power button and the LED flashes. Each green flash represents 25% charged, so 4 flashes means its 80-100% charged. Unfortunately, there’s no suction cups to stick it on the window, but I was able to secure it a little by putting an edge of it between the gap between my dash and windshield.

The bundled cable to connect it to your devices is a little on the short end, which meant that I would have to leave my phone on the dash in the sunlight too if I wanted to charge it. The plus side is that it comes with the female USB adapter, so you could use any USB cable with it. While the unit is in the sunlight, you can charge your phone by the sun instead of using the Solio’s battery.

Using it with my phone gave me a pretty fast charge, probably about the same as using the USB adapter. I did have an issue when trying to use it with my GPS unit though. I have a Garmin Nuvi, which uses the mini-USB adapter. When I tried to plug the Solio into it, the Garmin booted up into its “PC Connected” mode, which it uses for updates. Unfortunately, every time I tried, the Garmin thought it was connected to a PC instead of a charger. This would have been a good solution for long road trips where the Garmin’s battery wouldn’t have lasted, especially since I mount my Garmin to the windshield anyway.

Since this model has the built-in battery, it was a little on the big side as far as thickness goes. Its about twice as wide as my HTC Surround, which is already a thick phone. The size is 4.7″ x 1.3″ x 2.5″ and weighs 5.6oz.

The three solar panels are attached by a plastic piece, which felt a little cheap to me. Another cheap “feature” was if you wanted to prop it on a desk facing a window, they include a pencil to put through the hole to make a stand. Yes, a pencil! I guess it could be called a multi-use feature, but they could have made a real stand or something else besides a pencil.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with this unit. I can see where it has its place in the market, but I’m not sure how often I would use it. Other reviewers used it while backpacking or on hikes, and I can see where it would be highly functional for that, but I live in the midwest, and there’s not many places to do that.

Find it at the PPCGeeks’ Store here!

© 2011, mindfrost82. All rights reserved.