Review – Mobile Solar Chargers Executive Solar Charger

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Review – Mobile Solar Chargers Executive Solar Charger

Back again with my series of posts on portable chargers. This time I’m looking at a 6,000 mAh solar charger. Again this has been supplied from Mobile Solar Chargers. The “Executive solar mobile charger” is one of several solar power banks (i.e. portable chargers) sold by Mobile Solar Chargers. It’s the second largest that the shop sells. However, it isn’t quite as rugged as the Travel Solar Charger that is also a 6,000 mAh power bank. The device is similar to other power banks – it has a Micro USB port for topping up the internal battery but only one power-output USB port, and four blue LED charge indicators triggered by a key on the device. The executive charger is cased in a glossy black plastic, with a handle on the top of the device – which is very handy for hanging out in the sun. It’s disappointing that the charger can only charge one device at once, but at least the port supplies 2.1 Amps. The fact that it has one port, possibly speaks to the best scenario in which to use this device. Of course, the promise of solar power is free energy from the sky. However, the efficiency of photovoltaic cells is still lower than we’d like. The best way to use this charger is to charge it from the mains before you head off – say on a weekend break. Then, the solar panel will maintain a trickle charge to compensate for the drain incurred by charging your mobile devices. Most of my time testing the charger was done in the height of summer behind a glass window (I don’t get out as much as I’d like to!). In this situation I found it topped up about 5% day. Of course, glass will attenuate the most energetic sunlight wavelengths quite a lot. Therefore, you can expect that rate to at least double if you leave the charger outside, say by your tent, in direct sunlight all day. I would advise against leaving it on your car’s dashboard, as it will be starved of energetic UV light. All of that means you have 6,000mAh plus say another 10%-25% (depending on weather) to keep your phone going. Solar power can be a hard sell – you very much have to consider if solar power is really going to help you out or not. If it will, then this is a good looking solution that you can pick up for...

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Review – Premium Portable Power Bank

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Review – Premium Portable Power Bank

One of the oft-overlooked issues in mobile technology is that of battery life. For a heavy user even the best smartphones (with few exceptions) fail to get through the day. With that in mind, I’ve been testing out some portable chargers donated by Mobile Solar Chargers that I’ll be covering in the next few posts. The first device I tested was the “Premium portable power bank”. This device is a 12,000 mAh portable battery. For anyone who has seen the Proporta Turbo Charger, this device is very similar, except that it has nearly double the capacity. When you open the box you have the charger and one short and flat Micro USB cable. I like these flat cables as it prevents annoying twists being set into a cable. The complementary parts are somewhat barebones compared to Proporta who send a felt drawstring bag, two retractable cables and lots of interchangeable charging tips. However, I always find that retractable cables are a somewhat cumbersome and fragile, and the extra tips never get used. The power bank comes in white or black – I was sent the white one. The first thing that struck me (after having used Proporta’s model for so long) was the noticeable increase in both size (mainly length) and weight – it really is a lot heavier. Just like Proporta’s model, it has two USB ports for charging devices and a Micro USB port for charging. Also, it has four blue LEDs to indicate its charge level, which can be checked any time by pressing a key on its side. Where it differs from the Turbo charger is the amount of power it can output. Both this charger and its Porporta counterpart have a “high power” USB port that supplies 2.1 Amps for charging tablets. However, whereas the “low power” port on the Proporta Turbo charger only supplies 0.5 Amps (the same as a PC port), the Premium portable power bank gives 1.0 Amps (the same as a regular phone charger). This makes a big difference when keeping two devices topped up during the day. If you suffer from battery anxiety, and want to feel like your devices will never run out of juice, then you – just like me – will appreciate the titanic proportions of this charger. However, if you’re slightly more sane or don’t use your devices as heavily as me, then you need to look at the trade-off that this device offers. It’s large and it’s (relatively) heavy. If you’re carrying around a bag full of tech all day this is something that will add a significant amount. Does that matter to you? Also if you’re going from home to work and back where you’re always plugging in, then do you need a portable charger with you? However, after recent security scares about malicious chargers, if you’re connecting to untrusted chargers, having your own charging hardware is a plus. Also, if you think you’re going to be away from a socket for a long time, maybe even going away for a week, and don’t want your phone to die, then this charger alone could keep your device going all that time. Finally, if you just want the biggest charger possible and you don’t care about bulk and weight, then this offers great value...

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Weekly publications digest – November 8, 2013

Posted by on 17:30 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – November 8, 2013

Here are my latest publications from around the web. Farmers help bitcoin grow organically in Argentina – CoinDesk Organic farmers in Argentina are finding bitcoin to be a compelling solution when selling their produce through a website called Tierra Buena. The website has been highlighted in a new short film by Jacob Hansen. 696...

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Review – Sonivo Nexus 7 Leather Case

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Review – Sonivo Nexus 7 Leather Case

Even though I haven’t written a review of it, I’ve had the 2013 Nexus 7 for a month or so, and am very happy with it. The folks at GearZap sent me a Nexus 7 case to review. Hence if you’re looking for a case, read on to see what I thought of Sonivo’s leather Nexus 7 case. To be honest, I haven’t been big on cases for my mobile kit. With the original Nexus 7, I had a clip-on Bluetooth keyboard also served as a case. However, my usage patterns have changed, and I’ve found myself going out more often and throwing my tablet in my bag. Anyone who does the same will know that bags full of tech might as well be a food blender – things get beaten up pretty quickly (unless you have an awesome bag with dedicated internal pockets). Originally, I ordered a cheap flip-case for the new Nexus 7 from eBay. It was mostly a hard shell kind of case with a segmented front-cover (much like the iPad Mini flip case). It worked pretty well apart from the magnet. It was hit and miss as to whether the Nexus 7 could detect it and wake up and go to sleep as the case was opened and closed. So I pretty much got what I paid for. A couple of weeks later the Sonivo case was sent along to me from GearZap. To be honest my first impression was that it was a fine case, but that it wasn’t (aesthetically) for me – dare I say it felt a tad too feminine? After just a couple of days that first impression was done away with. The case is leather, and comes in a range of colours. As you can see in the photos, I was sent the blue one, which took a little getting used to, but it has grown on me. The first thing I’ll point out about this is that it has a magnetic seal which is 100% compatible with the Nexus 7’s sensor. That means you don’t have to use the power – the Nexus 7 will wake up when you open the case, and go to sleep when you close it. As for the rest of the case, the section that holds the tablet is fastened with a Velcro tab. The interior of the case is a beige kid-leather material which feels lovely. The opposite side of the case (i.e. the cover) has three stitched slots, two are for credit cards, and another slot for a SIM card. On the inside of the case’s spine there is an elasticated hand strap. This works surprisingly well for securely holding the tablet with the case opened. On the outside of the case, the rear has a tab that the cover to tucks into to create a standing configuration. The cover has two folding segments, which means it can prop up the tablet at two levels. The steepest angle is good for hands free content consumption (e.g. watching videos or reading text). This configuration also combines perfectly with the hand strap as a hand-grip for using the tablet outdoors. The lower angle that’s possible with the case helps on-screen typing on a table or your lap – i.e. data entry mode. While the...

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Weekly publications digest – November 1, 2013

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Here are my latest publications from around the web. Developers attempt to resurrect Namecoin after flaw discovered Namecoin, the basis of a decentralised domain name system (DNS), has been found to have a fundamental flaw which allows any .bit domain to be taken over by anyone. 1020 words

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Weekly publications digest – October 18, 2013

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Here are my latest publications from around the web. Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange review – CoinDesk Mt. Gox is the most widely known bitcoin exchange, but it has suffered a chequered history. We take a look at all its features so you can decide whether or not it’s the exchange for you. 938...

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Weekly publications digest – October 11, 2013

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Here are my latest publications from around the web. Reviewed: BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange – CoinDesk BTC-e is one of the most well-known cryptocurrency exchanges on the Internet and features in the Bitcoin Price Index. In light of difficulties in withdrawing funds from Mt. Gox, more people are turning to the Bulgaria-based exchange to buy and sell digital coins. We take a look at just what you can do with this exchange. 836...

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Weekly publications digest – October 4, 2013

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Here are my latest publications from around the web. How to get started with litecoin – CoinDesk If you’re new to the cryptocurrency world, you’d be forgiven for not having heard of litecoin. The currency, which was created by Charles Lee in 2011, is the second largest digital currency next to bitcoin. Here is our guide to what you need to know. 1052...

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Weekly publications digest – September 27, 2013

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Here are my latest publications from around the web. How to buy bitcoins in the UK – CoinDesk One of the problems with bitcoin is actually getting hold of the stuff. Most of us are not bitcoin miners which leaves us with the need to purchase cryptocurrency with fiat funds. If you live in the UK, there are some options, even though we can’t currently use services like Coinbase. Here we take you through the best ways to get hold of bitcoins in the UK. 833...

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Weekly publications digest – September 20, 2013

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Here are my latest publications from around the web. Butterfly Labs COO responds to detractors amidst company struggles Processor manufacturer Butterfly Labs (BFL) has recently been taking a bashing in the press and on the Bitcoin Forum due to delays in deliveries and the release of the its new 28nm processor, the Monarch. CoinDesk contacted Butterfly Labs’ chief operating officer (COO), Josh Zerlan, to talk about the delays, the Monarch ASIC and Bitcoin Forum complaints. 1378...

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