External battery packs are wonderful for giving your iPhone a boost when it's running low, but what about those situations where you're nowhere near a wall outlet to plug the battery pack in to top it off? Fortunately, Bracketron thought of those situations and is now selling the US$49.95 Xventure Xolar 3000, a 3000 mAh external battery pack that also features a solar panel to charge the battery.
Capacity: 3000 mAh
Weight: 3.9 ounces (110.6 grams)
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.5 x .5 inches (114.3 x 63.5 x 12.7 mm)
Solar: 5 volts at 0.8 W
Input DC: 4.5 - 6 volts at approx. 1 A
Output DC: 5 volts at 1 or 2 A, 9 volts at 1 A
Charge time: Solar only - 9 hours, AC/DC - 3 hours
Take a nice compact external battery pack, add a solar panel, and you have the Xolar 3000. All "the business" is on one end of the pack -- there's a mini-USB plug (an odd choice since most of the world has already switched to the micro-USB standard) for those times when you can plug into your local AC for a charge, a USB port for sending power to your iPhone, a power button for turning on the output, and a host of LEDs to tell you charging status and the output amperage.
The pack itself is an unassuming, solid black matte plastic unit with a thin white line around the center.
Plugging the Xolar 3000 into a USB port for an initial charge, four red LEDs showed that the battery was almost topped off. Once all four LEDs were steady red, I knew the pack was ready to go. A small blue LED under a screen-printed sun icon lets you know when the incoming light level is sufficient to be charging the Xolar 3000. The brighter that LED is, the more intense the light it's receiving.
To use the pack, just use your handy Apple cable to connect the Xolar 3000 to your iPhone. A green LED turns on, indicating that your phone is receiving 5 volts at 1 A. Note that the 2 A current is not enough to charge an iPad or iPad mini; this is strictly a battery pack for smartphones.
Anyone who spends a lot of time in the outdoors will appreciate the small size and solar panel of the Xolar 3000. It rocks good capacity with the ability to be topped off almost anywhere, and at a relatively inexpensive price tag for a solar unit.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible
Planning on doing some backpacking this summer, or spending some time at the beach? TUAW and Bracketron want to make sure that your iPhone stays charged, and as long as the sun is out, your Xventure Xolar 3000 battery pack will be getting juice. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before June 9, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected in a random drawing and will receive a Bracketron Xventure Xolar 3000 external solar battery pack valued at $49.95