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Power your Air with the sun

Portable solar-panel kit from an Apple accessories retailer can power and charge MacBook Air simultaneously. But it comes with a price.

QuickerTek solar panels for MacBook Air fold up to a rectangle about 10.5 inches. QuickerTek

A new solar panel kit for the MacBook Air will both charge and power the laptop at the same time.

QuickerTek, a Wichita, Kansas-based company that sells accessories for Apple devices, calls its new portable solar power gadget the Apple Juicz MacBook Air Solar Charger.

The Juicz comes in three size and power options and has a one-year warranty, QuickerTek said Tuesday. As usual with solar energy, all that "free" power is going to cost you.

The smallest 19-watt Apple Juicz, which takes 14 hours to recharge the laptop, will sell for $500; the 8-hour, 29-watt model is $600 and the 5-hour, 58-watt model is $1,000.

In addition to laying out the initial money for the solar kit, you'll also need to shell out another $100 for a compatible MagSafe power adapter, or pay QuickerTek $25 to upgrade your existing power adapter. (For $500 to $1,000 you'd think they could throw in the adapter modification for free.)

You'll also need a bit of space to use these.

While each solar panel kit folds up into a rectangle about the size of a piece of paper, unfurling them for use requires room. The 19-watt model unfolds into 30 inches by 30.5 inches and the largest 58-watt model folds out to about 5 feet by 3.5 feet.

That doesn't sound like a big deal when you picture your green, conscientious self sitting outside this summer on a patch of grass, or at a picnic table, with your solar panel spread out beside you and passersby inquiring about your oh-so-ingenious gadget. In reality, how's this going to work when you're jockeying for space around an outdoor table at a coffee shop?