This article first appeared in HWM July 2012.
There can be no harm in going green when it comes to energy. Seeing that sun shines year round in Singapore, solar power is a prudent renewable energy resource to tap. The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Mobile Kit does just that.
Priced at US$129.95, the Mobile Kit comprises of two products, the Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel and the Guide 10 Plus battery pack. The former is a case with two solar panels mounted on the outside. By opening the case up and folding it flat, you present a pair of 103mm x 125mm panels to the sun, which then charges batteries placed in the Guide 10 Plus battery pack.
Due to the varying intensity of solar energy, you cannot charge your smartphone or smart device directly with the Nomad 3.5, instead relying on the battery pack to do so. The battery pack accepts four AA batteries, though you can use AAA batteries with an adapter. A toggle switch on the battery pack allows you to change the state of the Battery Pack to Input or Output, and there’s even an LED flash light built-in for emergencies. So it doesn't seem like it can charge and allow you to consume power simultaneously.
Without any way to gauge the level of charge on the Guide 10 Plus, it is difficult to say how long the device takes to reach full capacity, though the manufacturer advertises 6-8 hours in total, with a conversion efficiency of 17 to 18 per cent. In our testing however, the device brought an iPod Classic 160GB from flat up
to 100 per cent capacity in about 6 hours, which is fairly decent.
While certainly handy, you’ll have to be traveling in fairly brightly lit places for the setup to really work well, plus the lack of any charge progress indicators do add to the uncertainty when out and about. As such, we’d recommend sticking to your traditional battery packs if you need extra juice while mobile and perhaps consider the GoalZero Guide 10 as an auxiliary option to further extend your capabilities.