I’ve used solar rechargers in the past
for my iPhone and never found them to be particularly useful. They have to sit for hours in bright sunlight just to give you an extra 30 minutes of talk time. There are exceptions – like the Solar Gorilla – but they tend to be large and more cumbersome. Check out a comprehensive line-up of solar rechargers that we tested earlier in the year.
The Lilypad professes to be different. Perhaps it’s because it uses a different type of solar cell – one that can be recharged by both indoor and outdoor light. More likely, it’s because people use their iPads intermittently – different from the way they use their mobile phones – which gives the Lilypad more opportunity to recharge in-between uses.
Whatever the alchemy is that Lilypad has brought together, the specs are impressive. Based on a usage pattern of two hours per day, an iPad user could use their fully charged iPad for nearly two weeks before having to recharge it again from a wall socket. Of course, this varies according to how long the iPad spends outdoors vs indoors. If you are out and about a lot, the iPad will last longer.
Because you have to give up you 30-pin connector, the Lilypad has given you something back in return: USB ports and an HDMI port. This is very convenient. You can style sync to your iPad but using a standard USB connector, instead of the Apple proprietary one – which means conserving the amount of cables that you need to take on the road. The HDMI connector can be used to plug the iPad straight into a television for Hidef viewing.
You can even use the USB output to recharge other devices off of your iPad’s solar panel.
The Lilypad includes a couple of different kickstand wires to put it into orientations that are convenient for typing or for watching movies.
All-in-all, it’s a very clever bag of tricks. I just wish it wasn’t so damn ugly! The Black prototype that they keep showing off in their videos looks like something belonging to Darth Vader. It’s black, chunky and kludgy. Why not cover the entire device in solar panels? At least this wouldn’t look as hideous as it looks now.
Visit the Lilypad website for more information.
Where to Buy:
Pre-order direct from Lilypad on Kickstarter