Bushnell SolarBook 850

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A portable energy source, no matter where you may find yourself, is not entirely new. But the concept of that source being lightweight, compact and extremely durable is a different kettle of fish.

Bushnell, the same company that is better known for its sports optics, has developed a line of very portable, lightweight and compact solar-driven power plants, which can provide an energy source for charging devices such as cameras, smart phones and MP3 players, or any device with a USB port, in as little as two hours. For example, the largest unit, the SolarBook 850, can provide up to five charges for a camera/GPS, three charges for an MP3 player, two charges for a smart phone and five charges for a tablet. Charge time, of course, depends on the device.

The rechargeable Lithium ion batteries in the 850 will take six hours to charge on a wall plug, for use when the sun has gone into hiding, but only three-and-a-half hours in the sun. It has two USB outlets and weighs only 24 ounces. They are also tough, as I discovered in the Bushnell presentation. So tough, in fact, that you can literally shoot holes in them and they will still get the job done. They come in various models and sizes, with a variety of accessories.

The largest unit, the SolarBook 850, MSRP: $300

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