Mon 10, Aug 2009
solargorilla reviewed in Personal Computer World
Packing for holidays isn't as easy as it used to be. As well as a passport, sun cream and clothes, many of us want to take a mobile phone - and that means taking a charger, and probably a foreign plug adapter to make it work. If you have an MP3 player, that'll need a charger too. Oh, and if you're travelling for work you'll need a laptop and its charger. Pretty soon the bottom of your suitcase can end up filled with a spaghetti-like mess of power adapters and wires.
One neat solution is the Solargorilla: a foldable solar panel that can be used to charge all kinds of electronic products. Its two panels are fitted into a plastic case that measures around 27x20x2cm when folded shut, and feels impressively rugged - we would have no concerns about chucking it into a rucksack.
The Solargorilla has two sockets. One is designed to charge laptops, and there's a USB socket for charging smaller devices. A selection of power adapters is supplied in the box, and others can be ordered from the company for a few pounds each.
The only problem we found with the Solargorilla was finding enough sunlight in the UK. Small devices such as a Nokia mobile phone and Nintendo DS games console charged easily, but even on a brilliantly sunny day we couldn't quite get enough power to properly charge our Medion laptop. If you're heading somewhere really sunny, of course, this shouldn't be a problem.
Alternatively the company sells a rechargeable power pack, the Powergorilla, that can be charged from the solar panels and then used itself to deliver a steady charge to a laptop.
All in all, the Solargorilla won't be ideal for everyone: it's fairly expensive, and to charge a laptop directly you'll need very bright sunlight. If you're travelling somewhere hot and off the beaten track, though, it could prove invaluable.