December 13, 2011
- Rugged case
- Solar panel for charging
- Can charge your devices
- Very good audio quality
- Not waterproof
- Volume adjusted through connected device only
- Battery takes long time to charge with sunlight
The SoliCharger-SP is a portable, rugged speaker system for your iPhone, iPod or any most other USB devices. It also charges your devices via the included power adapters and mini-solar panel on the front of the case. It works great for hiking, fishing, camping or just around town where you want high-quality audio without the need for batteries.
It measures 7.5 x 4 x 1.8-inches (wdh) and weighs just 9-ounces. The case is a Condura case, so it's built for "roughness" and an active lifestyle. It will definitely protect your iPhone or other MP3 player from any moderate bumps that you encounter, which is why we really see people who camp, hike or rockclimb using this product. The case zips up closed and has an air hole at the bottom to keep your gadgets cool inside. There are also two loops on the top edge with hiking clips, so you can clip the whole thing to your backpack or belt loop.
The inside of the case is padded and has a small pouch to keep the cables for charging devices and playing back music. The included adapters are an iPhone/iPod dock connector, USB, USB Mini and USB Micro. These adapters plug into the power port of the device to charge it. If you want to use the speakers, just plug the standard-size audio jack into your device's headphone port. On the inside top of the case, there is a small control panel with two switches, one to turn on device charging and another to turn on the speakers.
On the outside, there is a 70mA solar panel with a blue indicator LED light to show when the internal battery is charging. We found the panel to respond to light coming though our windows, so it will most likely be constantly charging if you keep it near any light at all. The manufacturer says that in full, direct sunlight, it will take approximately 20 hours to fully charge the internal battery, which is quite long (and overcast conditions 3-4 times longer!). They recommend charging it via the included USB adapter for 3-4 hours and then to use sunlight to charge your device while you're out using it. They also say that an internal circuit prevents overcharging the battery, so there's no worries there.
We had no problems charging our Apple iPhone 4 using the included 32-pin iPhone/iPod dock connector. It also connected to the audio port on our iPhone with ease and played while it charged. The audio quality of the two speakers located next to the solar panel was very good. Audio quality was clear and fairly crisp. It was definitely one of the best sounding portable speaker systems that we've experienced. The speakers do not have their own volume control, so controlling the loudness must be done through the device playing the music. This is a little cumbersome if your device is zipped up inside the case because a quick volume adjustment means having to unzip the case.
The loudness and quality is definitely good enough for boating, camping and most other outdoor activities. The case, while not waterproof, will protect it against most of the dangers to your device associated with these activities.
This is also a good device to have for emergencies, such as hiking, as you may want to charge and power your cell phone (or even a GPS via USB) if you become lost or lose battery power.
The SoliCharger-SP is available from SoliLight for a special holiday price of $49.95 (regularly $59.95).