Is That a Solar Power Station in Your Pocket, or...?

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Is That a Solar Power Station in Your Pocket, or...?
Following on from last month's story on Honda and Toyota's new commercial fuel-cell hybrid cars, we've unearthed another gem of an environmentally friendly product. Tokyo-based solar specialist Studio Del Sole has come up with the ideal planet- and money-saving device in the shape of a portable solar-powered generator called Violetta Solargear.
"Sunshine in your pocket ? Catch the sunshine on the go; keep the electron in your pocket; power your gizmo anytime, anywhere... a tiny solar power station in your pocket; built for anyone on the planet." So says the company's advertising blurb and who are we to argue? In trials, the Solargear charged sets of AA or AAA batteries in a few hours, but here in Tokyo we're blessed with endless sunny weather of course.

If you want to do more than charge mere batteries, you can. Studio Del Sole ( offers a DC cable for directly powering DC 3V appliances, such as AV devices like MP3 players or MiniDisc players, and a cable to connect the onboard USB port to your favorite PDA or cellphone. It's hardly surprising that the company has won numerous design awards, most significantly the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization's Good Design Award for Small and Medium Enterprises in 2001.

Even more surprising than the Solargear's elegant efficiency is its price -- only JPY5,000 for the basic solar panel with built-in battery charger. For JPY12,000 a full bundle of the main unit, AA and AAA batteries, a USB cable and a DC power cable can be yours. The company even delivers for free, so pop one of these in your pocket, hop in your fuel-cell car and start making the world a better place; or something like that.

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