Don Cayelli says one of his main motivations for developing his SunVolt Portable Solar Power Station was that he couldn't find a solar charger that worked well for charging his iPad on his boat.
He sails a lot and uses his iPad as a chart plotter and preferred to use the sun as a power source rather than rechargeable battery packs. Most solar chargers, he says, had internal batteries, and the standard approach was the solar panel would charge the internal battery and the battery would charge your device. That was because the panels were too small to charge your device directly.
So he came up with the idea for a larger solar panel that would fold up into its own carrying case. He says the case design was one of the most challenging parts of the product to get right.
He's trying to raise $30,000 to produce the SunVolt, which will come in two flavors, a 10-watt model that will sell for $100 (plus $10 shipping) and a 15-watt model that will sell for $125 (plus $10 shipping).
As for competing products, he says that some people have compared the SunVolt to Goal Zero's solar chargers. However, he counters that the Goal Zero products that are closest to SunVolt are considerably more expensive for lower-power solar panel configurations (the Goal Zero 10 has a 3.5-watt panel and the Goal Zero 10+ has only a 7-watt).
Anyway, if indeed it works as described, the SunVolt does seem like a useful product that's fairly reasonable priced (yes, solar charging remains expensive). But I'll let you guys be the judge of this project's worthiness.