Canadian technology company WeWi Telecommunications has brought to the market a device that it claims is the world’s first solar-powered laptop (in 2011 Samsung launched its NC215S solar netbook, which – although powered by sunlight – is not technically a laptop computer).
The Sol laptop is set to retail for just US$350, boasting the usual roll-call of specs (built-in GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, WIFI, 3G/4G LTE capabilities) and an impressive 10-hour battery life that can be fully charged after just two to three hours of exposure to sunlight.
To charge, the Sol laptop undergoes a rather striking transformation. While in normal mode the laptop appears little different than many others in this price range (if a little bulkier), the case unfolds to reveal a detachable solar array comprising four solar panels attached to a power cable.
The Ubuntu Sol’s creater, David Snir, says that these panels should be placed in direct sunlight in order to charge the laptop’s battery, with each panel producing around 10 W per square foot.
Reviewers have reported mixed results, with one stating that after five hours under strong sunshine in the Philippines the battery was only 75% charged. Others have enjoyed swifter charging results, often after placing the panels under a high-noon sun on a clear day for just a couple of hours.
Built to be rugged, durable and portable, the laptop’s creators hope to market the Sol to the military, adventurers, researchers and students who require computing capabilities in remote locations that lack access to a reliable electricity connection.