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We’re starting to see more and more battery operated devices like two-way radios and GPS units equipped with rechargeable batteries and a USB port. This in turn has lead to more portable battery chargers, of which the solar powered ones are fast becoming our favorite.
The Ice Tech Solar i9005 4K is the second such unit we’ve tested. With the ability to charge its 4000mAh Li-Ion internal batteries via AC, solar, or even USB, this versatile power supply provides enough juice to recharge your small electronic paraphernalia over several days of camping or bike touring. What sets the Solar i9005 apart from the competition is the variable output – it’s switchable from 4.5 to 5.0, 6.3 and 9.0 volts. This allows it to charge a wider variety of devices, via different tips that are available from Ice Tech.
The unit itself is quite compact, being a bit smaller than a paperback book, with a matte black plastic case that’s smooth but not slippery. Two small hinges allow it to open for solar charging, with the voltage selector on the edge opposite the hinges. On one end is the USB out, a bright white LED, a three way switch, (LED-Off-On) another LED that is the charging indicator, and a DC in. Our test sample came with a wall charger, USB cable, and a fair selection of tips, but most were for devices we don’t own. Depending on what you plan to use it for, this is either a bonus, or extra bits you don’t need.
After charging it fully, we proceeded to our testing, and everything was done with the USB cables supplied with whatever we were charging, with excellent results. Plug it in, turn it on, and in roughly the same time it would take your AC wall charger, the battery was ready to go. It was tested with two Android phones, Motorola radios, a small lantern, a GPS device, and we even recharged another solar charger with it. With gray skies and temps getting as low as 10 degrees, we never got a chance to fully test the solar charging option, but we plan to once the sun cooperates. Overall, there was only one area of concern. Although we liked the generous capacity of the batteries, if you’re not careful with the switch, the i9005 can quickly become a liability. We’d hate to see what happens if it gets bumped up to 9 volts while charging straight to USB.
There are probably some geekier sites out there that can offer a comprehensive test under temperature-controlled conditions, with exact times and voltages. They’d probably even verify the 200 hour run time for the LED light. We’re not that site. We charged it up, and treated it as though we were going to be without electricity for a few days, but still needed power. To that end, it served us admirably. If we were in charge at Ice Tech, we’d ditch the switch and the tips, and make it strictly USB out. While it’s certainly more flexible in the current configuration, there’s something to be said for simplicity. In the end, it really comes down to what you need to charge. Either way, the Solar i9005 is not likely to disappoint. www.icetechusa.com