Tue 28, Oct 2008
Queensland's Courier Mail reviews powergorilla & solargorilla
"THE new generation of smartphones is giving travellers more connectivity, but no gadget is more useful on the road than the laptop. Whether you want to keep up with email, write about your adventures, upload photos or talk to loved ones via Skype, the laptop can do it all. It has just one demand and one downfall: power and more power.
Queensland-based company SoundStuff recently imported a green solution to this bugbear. The company’s latest charger not only stores enough energy to power your laptop twice over or more but, when combined with a solar-friendly partner, can extract energy from the sun. Did someone say ‘‘hi-tech camping’’?
The two products are the PowerGorilla, which stores the energy, and the SolarGorilla, which picks up the sun’s rays to deliver it. Both are sold separately (the panels can be plugged into gadgets directly), but Connect tested them together. The PowerGorilla unit is a handy, brickshaped device that is 22cm long, 13cm wide and weighs 700g (as much as some netbooks). It is also rugged, with rubber sides for easy grip, and is well equipped to be used in all kinds of outdoor conditions. The useful gadget is essentially a giant lithium polymer battery. You can charge it by plugging it into a wall socket (it takes up to three hours for a full charge) or you can plug it into the SolarGorilla panels. These oversized panels are similarly rugged and fold out to pick up a fair area of sunlight. Using these to charge the Powergorilla brick could not be simpler. We picked the right adaptor, connected them via a cord and simply walked outside. As soon as the SolarGorilla found enough sunlight to make electricity, the PowerGorilla turned itself on and started charging.
Our only complaints were that the SolarGorilla did not work in dappled light, and that it took a while to charge gadgets and the power brick (for impatient gadgeteers, anyway). Though both gadgets complement each other, they are useful separately too. Both come with an extensive range of connections that can be used to charge iPods, PSPs and mobile phones as well as laptops. Most laptop makes are covered with these connections, including those from ASUS, Acer, Toshiba, Dell, Fujitsu, NEC, Samsung and Sony.
The SolarGorilla also comes with a 2m cord, so you don’t have to leave your precious gadgets baking in the sun. Connect tested the PowerGorilla with laptops from Dell and Fujitsu to great effect. Though we were worried early on, when the laptop did not recognise the power source, it soon became clear that the giant battery does not top up your battery’s power — it simply stops it from dipping further. A battery at 40 per cent charge, for example, will stay there while the PowerGorilla is connected. Users will therefore have to ensure that their power does not dip too low before reaching for the brick. It is also worth noting that the Powergorilla can output 5, 16, 19 or 24 volts, depending on your requirements, features protection against short circuits, overheating and overcharging, and will not work with Macs without an additional adaptor.
Both the PowerGorilla and the SolarGorilla are undeniably handy, however, and should appeal to outdoor adventurers and indoor laptop lovers alike. While carrying both will weigh you down at 1.4kg, packing one as a power back-up is bound to pay off."
- This review was organised by our Australian distributor, SoundStuff.