Published on May 16th, 2013 | by Greg0
JOOS Orange: Juice Up Gadgets With Practical, Portable Solar
If you’re regularly outdoors for hours at a time, for any reason, chances are that you’ve explored solar power options. This holds true whether you travel in urban areas and just can’t find available plugs or can’t depend on the power in an area. Even if you’re a backpacker, hiker, or climber who would appreciate some on-the-go electrical solutions for your gadgets, you’ve definitely considered solar charging technologies. But they’ve largely been held back because of a trio of issues- durability, reliability, and capability. Fabric or foldable models are lightweight, but not that efficient, and generally don’t work well except under optimal conditions. We’ve tried out larger sturdy models that performed well, like the Goal Zero line, but that model wasn’t actually waterproof, and is too bulky to carry except when car camping.
Today’s solar charger and battery backup combination is the Solar JOOS Orange- a great compromise option for those who primarily want to smaller electronics, like smartphones, GPS devices, or tablets. It won’t work with your laptop or notebook computer, but is perfect for iPods and digital cameras- anything that can be powered by USB, pretty much (or micro-USB, which this device connects to). It’s the perfect size to carry around- about the size of an iPad itself- and holds a lithium-ion user-replaceable rechargeable battery capable of charging an iPhone about two and half times (5,400mAh total capacity).
Best of all, this is a solar charger that we felt comfortable taking hiking, biking, and dropping. It feels very durable, and best of all, is even waterproof- kayakers or boaters, this is the best option we’ve seen for wet conditions. Also, unlike many competitors, it actually works in cloudy conditions. Many chargers simply don’t get enough energy when it’s overcast, and can actually drain your device’s battery more, but we never had that issue with the JOOS Orange. It’s pretty fast too- they claim that it is “3.5x faster than any other portable solar charger at the same price”, and while we can’t say for certain, we will say that it’s faster than anything else this size that we’ve tried. It won’t work miracles though- you’ll still need a full day of decent sun to charge your iPhone completely, but only about an hour of direct sun to get around two hours of 3G talk time.
It’s not perfect- we did have some trouble with loose connectors, and we only tried charging one device at a time. It’s lightweight compared to some other units, but it’s still not something you’ll forget that you put in your bag. At 1.5 pounds, it is about the same weight as an iPad itself. We liked the built-in attachment points for hanging from a bag and the overall design (like the white bezel, less likely to burn your hand when you grab onto the unit and the cute built-in flip-stand). But we missed and wished there had been an easy indicator of current battery charge (though there is software that can install to track the status).
Versatile and efficient, the JOOS Orange is the best truly portable solar charger that we’ve seen. And for the price- around $150- it’s certainly worth it to be able to recharge those gadgets wherever the sun shines. Available now.