Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB

What if you could charge pretty much any gadget, from iPhones to Blackberries, with a pocketable solar panel? Well...you can now with the solBAT II.

Price

$30 MSRP, but as low as $20 on Amazon.

Verdict

I like the solBAT II for eco geek purposes and ease of use, but it has so much room to grow.

A small plastic box that's far lighter than any cellphone, the SolBAT II is essentially a solar panel connected to a battery connected to AC and USB ports. On its back, one light glows red when it's charging, another glows green when it's charging something else.

Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB


And let me say, that red LED is great. It lights up dynamically, meaning you can tell the difference between just enough sunlight to draw a charge and ann all-out solar fiesta. Completely switch-free, the interface couldn't be much simpler.

The catch is that the solBAT II takes a long time to charge—4 to 5 days in all, according to the package. After sitting that long in my window, the device still hadn't reached its 1500mA capacity. And the whole time, I was considering how much faster the process would be if a second solar panel flipped out from the device, butterfly-style.

Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB


In terms of actual power output, its 1500mA battery, when charged in just two hours over USB, actually filled my 1150mA iPhone about halfway.

Still, if I were the outdoors type, I could really see the appeal of the solBAT II as an emergency backup option, especially as it comes with its own carabiner clip (plus a suction cup mount) so it can hang easily from a backpack. But it's not hard to imagine the next solBAT as a much more refined product, with additional capacity and faster charging. [solBAT II]

Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB

Very simple to use

Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB

Truly portable

Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB

Priced competitively

Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB

Slow charging

Scosche solBAT II Review: Sweet Sun-Powered USB

Somewhat low capacity in actual testing