Review: RichardSolo 1800 battery charger for iPhone has Frickin’ Lasers!
With all the external iPhone batteries out there it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. But here’s a helpful little tip that has always served me well – when buying any electronic gadget, I ALWAYS go for the one that has FRICKIN’ LASERS!
The RichardSolo 1800 external battery comes in 2 flavors, one with a cable, and one without. I chose to test out the one with the cable as I feel it is a bit more versatile, and it also works better with the iPod touch (the cableless version blocks the headphone port on the touch while charging). As you may have guessed from its name the battery has a capacity of 1800mAh, which is enough to charge your iPhone 3Gs fully, as still have some juice left over.
Given the fairly reasonable price tag of $69.95, the 1800 comes with a pretty decent assortment of extras. Included in the kit are wall adapter with a female USB port, a universal USB car adapter, with TWO full sized female USB ports, a retractable mini USB cable for charging the battery via either the car or wall adapters, and the iPod charging cable, which consists of a standard issue Dock connector on one end, and a female mini USB port on the other. These are nice add-ons, and can be used to charge pretty much ANY USB powered device such as an iPod or iPhone, even without the Solo.
Charging from a complete drain takes about 5 hours, which is not quite as fast as some other companies’ claims, but a more realistic one in my experience. The somewhat unique design is not nearly as compact as a “case-style” charger like Mophie and Mili offer, but it DOES have its advantages. First, it can charge ANY iPod with a dock connector (although iPad users are out of luck). Second, because it has a mini USB port out, it can also be used to charge pretty much any small gadget that has a mini USB port, such as a Motorola phone, or a GPS. But what I find most unique about the RichardSolo 1800 is that (for some reason) it has a built=in LED flashlight, and a pretty sweet laser pointer too!
Anyone doubting the usefulness of adding a laser pointer to an iPhone battery clearly does not own a pet. And in fact I think they should add laser pointers to pretty much everything I own. I had forgotten how much fun these things are. There’s nothing funnier than watching a cat, dog, or quite frankly, a human baby try to capture the “magic red dot”. I’ve found it even works on fish. Sure, I suppose you’re supposed to use it while doing presentations and such, but how many of use REALLY do that? The flashlight is also nice, and surprisingly bright. Thus far I have yet to use either of these things for their intended purposes, but they’re fun to have as add-ons to be sure and don’t seem to eat up the battery in any noticeable way. In fact the company claimes the flashlight alone would last for 100 hours of use on a single charge.
Well, as with most battery chargers I’ve been testing lately, I find my major gripe in the claimed battery life. I like to test these by draining my iPhone completely (until it shuts itself off) and then I see what the charger can do. Given the iPhone is rated at about a 1350-1400 mAh battery, you would think the 1800 mAh battery in the Solo would have more than enough juice to charge the iPhone, probably 1.3 times. However, I found it was only able to get me up to about 90% before the iPhone no longer indicated it was charging. (Tests were done with wi-fi and bluetooth off, and no active use). The good news is, that the laser pointer and lfashlight still worked great long after the Solo’s LED indicators claimed it was out of juice, so even though I couldn’t charge my phone, I COULD still annoy my neighbors by shinning a red beam into their house.
My only other issue is a design one. I would much rather they made the mini USB port on the unit itself a female mini instead of a male mini. As it stands now, it juts out in an odd way and makes for a less than seamless design. Hopefully they’ll address this in version 2.
On the back there’s an ON/OFF switch to keep you from accidentally turning the laser pointer or flashlight on.
For some reason I am obsessed with iPhone batteries, and the RichardSolo 1800 is certainly the most “fun” of the ones I’ve tested, thanks to its ability to screw with both pets and people. The built-in laser pointer and flashlight are gimmicky to be sure, but don’t seem to detract from the unit in any way, so what the hell. I found the battery life to be slightly below advertised, but it should be enough to give you a just about full charge if you find yourself stranded. The extras included in the kit, including a dual USB car adapter and a USB wall plug are also nice and can be used for charging all sorts of USB powered devices, such as iPods and iPhones, even without the Solo.
Pros: Versatile, light weight, can approximately double your iPhone’s battery life, comes with wall and car charger, built-in laser pointer and flashlight
Cons: Need to bring a set of cables makes it slightly less portable than other batteries, Doesn’t quite live up to claimed charge ability, I’m not a far of the male external mini USB port on the unit – should be switched to a female.