Make sure to check out our full review of Eton’s Rukus Solar Bluetooth speakers.
Solar technology company Eton showed off its latest creations on the showfloor at CES this week, including an impressive and versatile Bluetooth speaker with solar panel charging, a solar-powered iPhone case, and some lower-tech products designed for emergency safety. The company uses a philosophy of empowering users by giving them more power, easier access to power, and greener ways to get that power.
Portable Bluetooth speaker units aren’t exactly revolutionary anymore, but we were impressed with the Rukus Solar ($150) and how Eton incorporated its own solar technology in a way that doesn’t disrupt the look, feel, or function of the speaker system, but gives the user a way to get more power without using electricity. If it weren’t for the shiny surface of the top-mounted solar panel, you wouldn’t even know one was there. The design is fun and user-friendly; there’s no set-up to gather solar power since the panel is right on top, and an intuitive handle makes it easy to transport anywhere.
A handy elastic pocket in the back will hold your device safe and sound, and there’s even a USB port for keeping your phone or other device charged while it’s using Bluetooth. The unit will take about 6 hours in direct sunlight to fully charge, or users can rely on the included AC adapter to charge in a hurry. An E-ink display shows playback information, is virtually indestructible, can be seen in direct sunlight, and uses very little power. The Rukus Solar and a model without the solar panel ($100) will both be out in May in a handful of color options.
For the iPhone, Eton offers boosted battery life with the Mobius solar charging case. The case is a bit bulky, to be sure, but there’s something to be said for being able to fully charge your phone up when you have little or no access to electricity. One hour in the sun will give you somewhere between 20-45 minutes of phone use, and if you’ve got sunlight for 5-6 hours, you can give your iPhone a full charge. Letting your iPhone sit in the sun for 5-6 hours is pretty unrealistic, so the case is designed as something to top off your battery life when you need it. We imagine this being particularly useful for backpacking, camping, or other outdoor activities that don’t include access to a wall outlet.
Lastly, we took a peek at what Eton has up its sleeve in the area of safety. We can’t say they knocked our socks off, but the company’s weatherband shortwave radios are packed with useful features like an integrated flashlight, a hand-crank, a small solar panel, and ability to charge your cell phone. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one of these in your car in case of emergency.
We’ve seen a fair amount of green technology out there that can seem unnecessary or impede the design or use of a product, but we’re glad that there are products emerging that have good design and function without the solar technology, but are even better with it included.