The Solio Bolt may be the perfect traveling companion for your portable electronics that are charged via a USB port. With two multi-crystalline photovoltaic (solar) panels, and a 3.7 volt, 2000mAh battery, it’s ideal for topping up the battery on your phone, MP3 player, GPS, or similar device. Forget hunting for a wall outlet, or being tethered to a computer – the Bolt has a USB port right on the side. No fussing with different tips, and nothing extra to buy, just use the cord that came with your device for a charge while you’re on the go.
Charging the Bolt is accomplished one of three ways:
- Via the sun, which is absolutely free, but you’ll need 10-12 hours of sunshine
- Through a USB cable, (one is included) which takes 4.5 hours
- With an optional wall charger, which also requires 4.5 hours
A fully charged Bolt can supply an HTC EVO with 7 hours of talk and 194 hours of standby time. The Motorola Droid and iPhone 4 both get over 9 hours talk time, and around 400 hours standby. How about the iPod 4th generation? Another 86 hours of music or 15 hours of video. A GPS receiver, such as the Garmin Nuvi 850, will run an additional 5 hours, twenty minutes. Charging times are anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. While you should always factor in operating temperature and your device’s battery condition, this should serve as a pretty good guideline as far as what can be expected.
We found the Bolt simple to use, right out of the box. Plug it into a USB port and an LED indicator lets you know when it’s fully charged. Then connect it to your device, and hold the LED/button down for about five seconds. A flashing green LED indicates universal charging mode, while a flashing blue LED indicates a mode optimized for charging Apple devices. For solar charging, swivel the top panel out, and use the included pencil to position the panels facing the sun. If you’re outdoors, such as camping or at a lake, just leave it in a protected area without shade, facing upwards. At the end of the day, you’ll have captured enough free electricity to recharge your device.
At 5.3 ounces and 3.5″ square x 1″ thick when folded, it’s not quite pocket-sized, but you can easily stow it in a purse, backpack, or messenger bag. This makes it perfect for using on a plane, train, automobile, while camping, or even at home, when you need to charge your device but either can’t, or don’t want to leave it plugged in somewhere. The first time we used it was to recharge an iPod during a hospital stay. Since they generally frown on patients plugging USB devices into hospital computers, this was an ideal solution. But we’ve got plenty more applications for it. Look for future reviews where we’ll be testing it with a camping lantern, GPS unit, and two-way radios, all equipped with a USB port for charging.