The Solio H1000 is a universal charger for electronic devices that stores power, either from an electrical socket or from solar energy – a “hybrid” charger. I was sent one on loan for a 3 month trial on behalf of the manufacturers, Better Energy Systems.
As you can see I was sent a lovely orange one, but other colours are available. The Solio is dubbed a “hybrid” device because it accepts power from either a standard wall socket or the sun. Unlike standard chargers it uses no energy when plugged into a wall socket and not attached to a device (once charged of course).
It can store this energy within its internal battery for up to one year, and can be used any time for on-the-go charging of most portable electronics devices. It comes with several plug attachments, one for Nokia phones, a mini USB connection, and a female USB connector (see the photo for more details). It also comes with a USB connector to charge the Solio if you have not charged it from the sun. There is no wall socket adaptor when you buy it, this can be purchased for additional cost (probably to encourage you to use the solar panel), as well as an iPod connector, 12V car charger adaptor, Gameboy, Motorola adaptor and so on.
My testing with the Solio didn’t get off to a perfect start, I was unable to charge it from the sun, I had to charge it through the USB connection to my PC. I don’t know why, but leaving it in the sun initially had no effect – it did of course later on.
Despite the device being simple and having only one button and two lights (one red and one green) it was at first a little confusing to wonder what all the light flashes meant. The instruction manual is in pictures rather than words which helps transcend the language barrier but doesn’t particularly help with other aspects of its operation. After the first use though it all became clear.
The device itself comes in several colours, and as you can see from the pictures it has a clip for attaching to backpacks etc, which came in handy once on a walk and in a coffee shop when my mp3 player battery died. It’s also a great conversation piece! Talking of mp3 players, I’ve tested it on two, an iRiver S10 and a Creative Zen:M.
The iRiver charged perfectly as you can see from the picture and the video above, I just used the female USB to connect this up. The Zen did not seem to charge up (via the mini USB), however it seemed to accept this as if it was a wall socket connection, and essentially powered the Zen during operation rather than charging the battery. In a way it achieved the same goal – using the device – however in this case I had to have to Solio connected if I wanted to use the device, rather than charging it for a while and using it separately. Maybe it was just me, I’m not sure if this is usual or deliberate, but it wasn’t a problem.
Overall I think it’s a useful product, it survived a trip to Europe and back, the auto show in Detroit and once again proved handy in airports and train stations where all the sockets were taken up by laptop users. Currently you can get 10% off a Solio by visiting the Life Goggles Reviews and Shop page.
If you’ve used the Solio, or a similar device, why not leave a comment below or drop us a line and let us know your thoughts?