San Francisco's climate isn't exactly ideal for solar-powered gadgets, in that the appearance of the sun is a rare and fleeting occasion. But the output, battery life, and sound clarity you get from the sun-sucking Eton Soulra XL boombox are surprisingly decent.
You don't have to worry about finding an outlet or putting down a ten-spot for 40 minutes worth of D-cells, since this thing charges as you use it with a gigantor 72-square inch solar panel that nets you an extra three hours of play-time. That's a total of 8 hours of tunes! The panel swivels, so you don't have to reposition the entire box just to keep it in direct light. It's loud and clear for being a mere 22W portable system. The rubberized exterior makes it water-resistant, so it's safe (enough) to keep poolside.
At seven pounds, the Soulra XL is a hefty lad. In direct sunlight, it charges completely in about 5 ungodly long hours. Or, if you're in a hurry, it also charges via DC input in about 90 minutes—though that rather defeats the purpose. And those five hours may be a fair trade-off compared to my old boombox's crippling D-battery addiction, but it's still a longass time to wait for your tunes. The anti-glare cover is a great idea, but requires keeping the screen's backlight on to actually see anything it's displaying.
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