Gadgets 435

Published on June 25th, 2009 | by Greg


Solio Magnesium: Simple, Sturdy Sun Power

Solar power definitely has drawbacks. It isn’t the solution for everyone- our staff in Seattle, for instance, would be quickly out of juice. Even reasonably sunny places often have cloud cover, and that can greatly decrease the effectiveness of any solar collector.

With those caveats, the Solio Magnesium is a great green gadget for anyone considering a portable solar solution aimed at smaller electronics. We’ve reviewed both a previous model, as well as some alternatives and the problems are similar. The Magnesium manages to overcome some of the issues though, merely by being a bit more powerful than it’s predecessor and more wallet-friendly and compact than many competitors. It combines the solar panels and battery into one foldable, pocket-sized unit.

What can you charge? Nearly any small gizmo- MP3 players, most cell phones and PDAs, many GPS devices and similar handheld electronics. Larger and more power-hungry ones, though, will charge slowly or not at all depending on weather. We plugged in our iPhone directly, while turned on, and the Solio had trouble with active charging. Turn the phone off, though, and the Solio was able to refill the battery- but it definitely took most of the unit’s juice. That would be fine, except that it can take 2-3 days of decent sun until the Solio Magnesium can recharge completely.

The unit is well-designed- fairly small and light (about 9 ounces altogether), while also being quite sturdy. It isn’t weatherproof, but shrugged off some light rain, and worked fine despite a couple of drops. One thing that the pictures don’t reveal is that when you slide together the flower-like panels, the solar cells of one of them remains unprotected. It isn’t particularly vulnerable, but much more so than the rugged exterior on the flip side might lead one to believe.

In terms of accessories, you get a cute hemp bag, a bunch of iGo tips for various devices, and a pencil… which seems odd, if eco-friendly. The idea is to use it to properly adjust your Solio for best placement in the sunlight. The tips are for Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Blackberry, and LG, and there is a female USB connector as well for charging most anything else (like the iPod or iPhone)- plenty of others are available as well. For around $120, it works as a great emergency power supply, and a decent solar charger- just make sure that you have the sun at your back. Available online, and in many retailers.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

Back to Top ↑