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Review: Solargorilla

Is this a new dawn for iPod and laptop charging, or will the sun set on Powertraveller’s latest offering?

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Is this a new dawn for iPod and laptop charging, or will the sun set on Powertraveller’s latest offering?

Price: £137 (inc VAT)
Available From:

After harnessing wall sockets and car batteries for portable charging, Powertraveller has moved on to its biggest source yet – the sun. Ignoring wind and tidal power for the time being, the company has launched its latest device to help keep your devices loaded up on juice wherever you may be. First impressions can be deceiving – especially in this case as we unpacked the Solargorilla in sunny Portugal to questions as to why we’d brought a George Foreman grill on the trip. After successfully charging an iPod touch poolside, however, the mocking subsided and the benefits of the Solargorilla began to shine.

Like the aforementioned grilling machine, Solargorilla folds from its 264 x 200mm closed form into two photovoltaic glass panels that catch the sun in order to generate electricity. A wide range of adaptors for almost any portable device you can think of, including mobile phones and PDAs, come with the device and attach to either the 20V power socket or 5V USB socket, which we used with both iPhone and iPod touch to great effect.
When it came to the MacBook the connection was a little more tricky, with an additional two adaptors required. In order to use the Solargorilla with a MacBook you will need to purchase Apple’s own MagSafe Airline adaptor as well as Powertraveller’s universal car charger socket – pushing your investment up by a further £32. Older Mac laptops are supported but, again, an additional adaptor is required. It’s also worth noting that MacBooks can only be powered by the Solargorilla, not charged. We tested the Solargorilla largely in brilliant sunshine and 30-degree heat, ideal for the device. On return to England, however (as you would expect) charges weren’t quite so fast, with manoeuvring required to avoid clouds. Hardly a sticking point though, Powertraveller only claims to harness and not control the sun’s rays. At the end of the day (not an ideal phrase for this review) you’ll know if Solargorilla is right for you. If you live in near constant sunshine and need to power and not charge your laptop, the device does its job and does it well. Elsewhere, you’re simply at the mercy of the heavens.

Pros: Perfect for charging iPods and iPhones as well as powering laptops when outdoors
Cons: Not ideal for all countries, additional adaptors required for powering MacBooks

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars
★ ★ ★ ★