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Solar energy is a green energy, and it boggles the mind why America has failed to harness this energy source in any viable fashion. While consumer electronics manufacturers continue to push "green" as a clever marketing gimmick, other companies are actually working on solutions, however small, to help folks to minimize their carbon footprint. Novothink offers up a solar powered battery charger for the iPhone to help those concerned with the environment, to do their part in supporting the green economy.
The Novothink Surge for iPhone 3G/3GS is an external battery pack/case that slides onto the iPhone to provide more battery life than the paltry battery life that ships standard with the current generation iPhone. What is unique about the Surge is the capability to charge the iPhone via solar power. The Surge is a combination solar charging case combined with a 1320mAh 3.7 volt lithium polymer battery offering up to twice the capacity of the iPhone's battery.
The Surge is simple to attach to your iPhone. Upon first removing the Surge from its box, you first must charge the Surge via USB using the included USB 2.0 cable. The company recommends that you charge the Surge this way for three hours to ensure the battery is fully charged. You can determine the charge by pressing on the status indicator button on the back of the unit. All four green LED lights should light up, lettting you know that the Surge is fully charged. Slide your iPhone into the Surge case and you are good to go. If your iPhone is less than 100 percent charged, the Surge will charge it to 100 percent automatically. You don't have to do a thing. There are no switches to tend to.
|The Novothink surge comes in a variety of colors|
I have been using the Novothink Surge for about three weeks and am impressed with its charging capabilities, ease of use and overall design. Although the device has a built in thermal sensor that will stop charging the iPhone if things get too hot, I don't leave the charger on the iPhone in super heated environments such as on the dash of a parked car. I don't have any problems leaving the Surge out in direct sunlight in the back yard or on a windowsill in the house. The company claims that the Surge, fully charged is good for 30 minutes of talk time on a 3G network with two hours of direct exposure to the sun, and 60 minutes of talk time on a 2G network. But we all know that the iPhone is not just for talking, so your mileage will vary. In my own personal usage, with a fully charged iPhone and fully charged Surge, I have been experience about two days of total iPhone usage, including talk, camera use, and web surfing that is typical to my usage. The Surge makes the iPhone a lot bulkier than a naked iPhone, but I like the way that it is designed, with gripper style rubber on the sides, which makes it perfect for holding while talking. I also like how the iPhone easily slides in and out of the Surge, unlike my previous, case/charger, the mophie juicepack.
While the Surge makes the iPhone bulkier, it more than makes up for that bulkiness by giving you better grip of the phone as well as some protection to the phone in the event you drop it. The downside is there is little protection to the screen, but what case provides screen protection? I prefer charging the Surge without the iPhone attached because I just don't feel comfortable leaving the iPhone baking in the sun. The Surge works better with the Novothink Solar Planner app from the iTunes store. The app enables you to monitor your solar power, giving guidelines on how long you need to keep the Surge in the sun based on the features you use on the phone. For example, if you want to talk for 30 minutes per day, watch 15 minutes of video, play music for 60 minutes, and surf the Internet for 60 minutes, you must keep the Surge in the sun for 1.9 hours. If the day is overcast, Solar Planner adjusts accordingly. You can move the sliders back and forth and the app will tell you how long to keep the charger in the sun.
Novothink's Surge is a great device for the iPhone. It enables you to charge the phone using solar power while offering a bit of protection to your iPhone at the same time. $69.95. www.novothink.com
John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org