Power your gadgets with $19.99 solar charger

Forget pricey, environment-harming batteries. This "hybrid" charger draws squeaky-clean energy from the sun. Or, if the sun's not available, a USB source like your PC.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida

Do you need power for your cell phone, MP3 player, digital camera, and other portable gadgets? Our friend Mr. Sun has an endless supply (well, not endless--5 billion years and kaput!). What you need is a way to harness those rays and turn them into energy you can use.

GoldenGadgets has just such a harness: the Portable Hybrid Solar Charger, currently on sale for $19.99--shipping will run you about $5.

What makes it a "hybrid" charger? Simple: It can draw energy from the sun (8-10 hours buys you a full charge--bad news for those of us who live in Michigan, where we're lucky to get 8-10 minutes of sun. Hey-oh!) or from a USB source like your PC, which does the job in about 4 hours.

The charger comes with a generous assortment of tips: BlackBerry, Motorola, Nokia, Mini-USB, USB, and iPod/iPhone. (Unless my eyes deceive me, there's also one for Palm, though the product listing doesn't mention it.)

Speaking of which, the product listing doesn't specifically mention iPhone 3G compatibility, either; however, one of the user reviews claims it works fine. (The demo video up top shows an iPhone getting charged, but it looks like a first-generation model.)

Sure, you can get an iPhone battery pack for as little as $6.99, but that powers one device and one device only. This eco-friendly charger can juice just about everything in your carry-on bag. Until someone invents a teeny little windmill, it'll have to do.