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ElectroHiFi SOSCharger (translucent blue) review: ElectroHiFi SOSCharger (translucent blue)

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The Good The ElectroHiFi SOSCharger is small and compact; its crank drive makes the charger reusable; and its LED produces a few minutes of light after 2 to 3 minutes of cranking.

The Bad The ElectroHiFi SOSCharger is tough to crank; several minutes of cranking gave us mere minutes of phone life. It won't revive a completely dead battery.

The Bottom Line Like the nearly identical IST SideWinder, the ElectroHiFi SOSCharger delivered a minimal charge in exchange for several minutes of cranking.

5.6 Overall

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ElectroHiFi SOSCharger

Closely resembling the crank-driven IST SideWinder, the ElectroHiFi SOSCharger ($20) also suffered from reliability issues. After several minutes of cranking, this palm-size charger managed to charge our Motorola V600 handset for only a few seconds, though our Sony Ericsson S710a lit up for longer. While we're all for reusable, environmentally friendly sources of power for our portable electronics, they're not much good if they can't deliver the juice.

The ElectroHiFi SOSCharger is essentially an exact copy of the SideWinder. Measuring a compact 2.3 by 1.8 by 1.5 inches and weighing in at 2.5 ounces (slightly heavier than the SideWinder), the SOSCharger comes in both silver and translucent blue.The plastic shell is curved for a better ergonomic fit and small crank folded into the side. And like the SideWinder, there's a white LED and a power port on top of the device. The charger comes with a small lanyard but no carrying case (like the one that comes with the SideWinder).

Setting up the ElectroHiFi SOSCharger is a snap; just attach the included power cord from the charger to your phone's AC input. Adapters for various phone makers, such as Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Audiovox, Kyocera, and Samsung, are included. Once the power cable is all set, you unfold the small handle and begin cranking.

According to the ElectroHiFi SOSCharger's specs, 3 minutes of cranking should get you between 2 and 8 minutes of talk time. Just as with the SideWinder, however, the SOSCharger came up disappointingly empty on a dead battery. The device won't deliver enough juice to power our depleted Motorola V600 for more than a few seconds; by the time we started dialing a number, the phone went dark. We tried cranking for another 3 minutes, but again, our V600 died within moments. On the other hand, when using it with a near-dead Sony Ericsson S710a, we got enough power for a quick 6-minute call.

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