Brando’s “Mulit [sic] Purpose Solar Charger” is hard to criticize. It’s a 15% efficient solar panel on top of a 1,350 mAh battery, capable of outputting power via a set of cell phone adapters or good ol’ USB. It appears you can also charge via USB, then keep it topped off during the day via solar. Best of all, it’s just $25 plus shipping.
It has a strange, clear plastic clip on the back that Gizmodo implied was to hold batteries for charging, but I don’t see any electrical leads in the plastic, so I’m guessing it’s just some strange Chinese design affectation.
Solar + batteries is where it’s at. You could leave this thing in the window of your workplace all day, then plug in your phone on the way home and never hit an outlet for months. There are the production and environmental costs of the unit itself, of course — especially the battery — but it’s great to see something like this showing up so inexpensively.
I ordered one. It won’t be around by the time I’m ready to go out into the woods — next week! — but it still looks like a worthwhile thing to have on hand. I’ve got some more solar projects coming throughout the summer, too.