Review: Voltaic Systems Spark
This tablet case has an 8-Watt array of solar panels, and an internal 10,600mAh Lithium-polymer battery pack designed to charge tablets such as the third-generation iPad.
Harley Ogier | Thursday, November 08 2012
Product type: Solar tablet case & battery
RRP incl GST: $460
- 10,600mAh LiPoly battery
- Solar charge in 10+ hours, PC in 5-6hrs
- 600mA & 2000mA USB port outputs
Great battery, but the Spark’s usefulness is limited by its heavy and inflexible solar panels.
This tablet case has an 8-Watt array of solar panels, and an internal 10,600mAh Lithium-polymer battery pack.
That sounds huge in smartphone-capacity terms, but note that the new iPad has an 11,666mAh internal battery. The iPad 2’s capacity is 6,930mAh, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1’s is 7,000mAh.
As you may have gathered, the Spark has a high-current (2,000mA) USB port for charging tablets, in addition to a 600mA USB port for smartphones and smaller USB-powered gadgets. Both ports can be used simultaneously.
We were told to expect to ‘charge the new iPad to about 65% from flat’, but unfortunately we didn’t have the new iPad on hand to test.
We were able to charge three smartphones from the Spark’s full battery, plus a small MP3 player. Trampers wanting to keep a smartphone, e-reader and camera all charged, for instance, would do well to mount the Spark case to the back of their pack. Total weight is a little over 1.1kg – not brilliant if you’re trying to travel light.
Charge time is a minimum of 10 hours in full sunlight. It managed that easily on clear days, but stretched out to 16-20 hours under cloud cover.
It’s a good system, with a fast charge time for the battery capacity involved, but its weight and bulk limit its usefulness in the great outdoors. If you desperately need to power a tablet outside, perhaps for some kind of field study, the Spark could be useful – but it’s not something you could just swap out for a regular around-the-office tablet case to avoid plugging in the wall-charger.
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