Kindle Gets Solar-Powered at CES

by Matt Klassen on January 9, 2012

The annual Consumer Electronics Show doesn’t officially open until Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped the tech world from fawning over the latest and greatest gadgets that will be unveiled this coming week. But as I waded through the myriad of press releases about the new Ultrabooks or the next wave of smart TVs, one particular story caught my eye; a story not about new technology per se, but about conscientious, environmentally responsible technological advancement.

To that end, while the prefix “e” in techno-speak has long meant electronic, it could soon mean eco-friendly, as SolarFocus is poised to unveil the newest accessory for Amazon’s Kindle e-reader at this year’s CES, the solar-powered SolarKindle cover.

Designed to fit standard size Kindle e-reader models, the SolarKindle cover is the perfect choice for the eco-friendly technophile, ostensibly creating a device that that has little in the way of an ongoing environmental footprint, using no trees for paper or fossil fuels for batteries.

While I won’t dampen anyone’s environmental enthusiasm by going into details about the negative impact manufacturing these sorts of eco-friendly devices has on the world in general, the reality is that no mobile gadget—be it a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop—is actually good for the environment. That said, of course, there is the possibility to make devices less harmful, and that’s in essence what SolarFocus has done here.

Designed as a stylish cover for one’s Kindle e-reader, the SolarKindle panel is certainly the most eco-friendly option to date, a device that will undoubtedly make Al Gore and Leonardo DeCaprio proud. The combination solar-powered system provides users with a recharging system and LED for the Kindle e-reader. The solar-powered battery can be used to transfer power to your Kindle’s main battery or to power the flip-out LED lamp or any combination of the two.

The company has promised that the solar recharging system will provide up to three months of unplugged use under “normal light conditions,” a guarantee that suddenly has Canadians wondering just how eco-friendly they can be during winter.

The cover itself comes with a price tag of $79.99 (USD)–available for purchase on January 15th–making it as expensive as the cheapest Kindle e-reader itself. But in a world where everything sucks power, even when it’s turned off, its refreshing to see a product that makes an attempt at reducing our carbon footprint.

But as refreshing as it is, it does make me wonder why we haven’t seen these sorts of technological accessories before. For the most part e-readers are known for their frugal power consumption, making the device an ideal choice for solar technology. Nevertheless, I continue to hope that accessories like this achieve consumer success, as unfortunately that’s truly the only way company’s will begin to explore clearer, greener, more eco-friendly technological options.

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