Over the past few years, I've tried out a several solar-powered recharging devices, usually in conjunction with summer gift guides or other outdoor gadget projects. For the most part, the solar chargers were big, bulky things that required a lot of heavy lifting in order to recharge your much smaller smartphone, and didn’t seem worth the extra effort in lugging it around on your travels. One exception - the very cool solar-powered flashlights and other devices that incorporate the hand-crank generator.
GoalZero, one of the leaders in the solar power market, has upped its game a bit. This week at the Outdoor Retailer Expo in Salt Lake City, the company showed off some new devices aimed at shrinking the size and bulkiness of those solar panels.
The Slide Battery (announced in May as part of a partnership with OtterBox, shipping now) works with the OtterBox uniVERSE case (a modular design phone case that lets you slide the extra battery directly onto the case) and provides extra battery charge for the iPhone 6/6S ($54.99) and 6 Plus/6S Plus ($59.99). Just slide the battery onto the case and you get the additional power for your phone.
But even cooler is then connecting it with the Nomad Folio ($39.99 for iPhone 6/6S, $49.99 for 6 Plus / 6SPlus, shipping in Q4 2016) - this smaller solar panel attaches to the Slide Battery module to provide “endless power” for the iPhone (as long as the sun is out, one assumes). The Nomad Folio looks a lot smaller and less bulky than previous solar panel devices aimed at recharging smartphones and tablets, so I can’t wait to try it out.
The company also launched the new lineup of its Yeti Lithium Solar Power Stations, for serious solar recharging. The Yeti 400 and Yeti 1400 include lithium cells and are hardcore solar generators - not only will it recharge your phone between 30 and 100 times, you can also use it to power a TV or refrigerator. This generator does come with a cost, however - $699.99 for the Yeti and $1,999.99 for the Yeti 1400. Those will be available in Q1 2017.
But yeah, the sun is awesome, isn’t it?