SOL: The Solar Powered Laptop
Tom Lombardo posted on September 15, 2013 |

WeWi Telecommunications recently introduced the SOL, a laptop computer powered entirely by sunlight. More accurately, it’s powered by a battery that can be recharged with sunlight. WeWi is tight with their technical details, but they granted me an exclusive interview and shared a few specifications beyond what’s on their web site.


The SOL runs the UBUNTU operating system and includes a wealth of productivity and creativity software. Sporting a 1.86GHz Intel Atom D2500 dual-core processor, up to 4GB of RAM, a 320GB SATA hard drive, and 1080p graphics with a 13.3 inch display, this is no child’s toy. It includes WiFi and 3G/4G LTE capabilities. While it doesn’t have a DVD drive, it does provide three USB ports and a universal card reader.


Let’s focus on the power. Under normal conditions, the SOL uses about 22W of power. Its battery is capable of providing 8-10 hours of life. They wouldn’t share the details of the solar panels, except to say that they’re American-made monocrystalline panels with an efficiency of around 21%. Based on their size and efficiency, I’d estimate that the panels produce around 20W of power in full sunlight - just slightly less than the computer uses. So 8-10 hours in full sun should charge the battery pack almost completely. An AC adapter is also included in case of extended overcast days or a lot of indoor use.


The Atom processor is designed for low-power applications. WeWi chose a low-power screen and hard drive as well. Although the SATA hard drive isn’t quite as energy-efficient as a solid state drive (SSD), it’s much less expensive. Even so, the SATA drive draws less than 3W when actively seeking and less than 1W when idle. It’s also designed for durability, housed in a proprietary shock-resistant cage. WeWi plans to incorporate an SSD in a future high-end model, the SOL-X, but will stick with the SATA drive for its base models.


Speaking of durability, the SOL is made from reinforced materials using military and industrial specifications. Its electronic components are coated with a commercially available waterproofing substance (they wouldn’t say which one), alleviating the need to waterproof the entire unit. The SOL “Marine” version is even submersible!


The standard SOL will sell for $350 (US); the SOL Marine will sell for $400. No word yet on an exact release date, but if you’re interested you can go to solaptop.com and sign up for their mailing list.


Images: WeWi Telecommunications, Inc.


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