Solar energy can act as an anti-aging ingredient for almost anyproduct. It is able to rejuvenate some of our oldest, seeminglyoutdated gadgets, and give them fresh appeal for the techie and theenvironmentally conscious consumer alike.
For example, the transistor radio of yesteryear seems as old as dirtwhen compared to iPods, online radio and MP3-playing sunglasses. But amixture of solar power and smart design has revived this nearlydiseased device. Here are three solar-powered models that are bringingthe radio back to the fore.
It is a portable, solar-powered AM/FM Weather band radio that’s goodfor leisure or, if necessary, emergency scenarios. The multi-featuredevice — which also acts as a built-in flashlight and cell phonecharger — is charged via a small photovoltaic cell and/or by a handcrank. The FR-150 also lets users tune in to FCC and EAS public alertsystems, and grants access to weather forecasts and other emergencyservices via the Weather band receiver. It’s an ideal all-in-onesolution for any emergency kit or outdoor expedition.
The Flexio pushes the limits of clean-energy design in the field ofpersonal electronics. In creating this flexible solar radio, designershave done away with the boxed look of a conventional tuner. The Flexiois the size and shape of a woman’s wallet and, depending on yourtastes, can be just as fashionable. Both the speaker and solar cell areflexible, which allows the radio to be folded and stashed almostanywhere.
What’s the catch? The Flexio is a fixed FM radio — meaning that AMis not an option — and there is no tuner. You have to buy each stationindividually. If you have three favorite stations, you’ll have to pickone or buy three Flexios. Also, Flexio does not work when it is out ofthe broadcasting area. Its designers say, however, that the devicecould in the foreseeable future receive internet radio via WiFi orWiMax.
If you’re into the conventional radio look, this one’s worth lookinginto. Freeplay’s Summit Shortwave Solar Radio is a full-featured AM/FMdigital radio with built-in rechargeable batteries. Like the FR-150above, the Summit can be rebooted by the sun or by winding a crankthat’s affixed to its side. This solar radio has an alarm clock forweekdays, a snooze setting for weekends and 30 digital presets. It’snothing fancy. But it does the job of an old-fashioned radio withoutold-fashioned consumption.
First Image: The American Red Cross FR-150 Microlink