Laptop computers use just 50-75 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity a year, about a third of what’s required by their desktop cousins.
But most still can’t run for an entire work day on a single battery charge.
While many high-tech manufacturers, notably Samsung, have talked about produced solar-powered models for years, so far no one has managed to pull it off.
That’s why the technology press is abuzz this week with details about a forthcoming solar-powered, rugged notebook computer series intended for emerging markets or far-flung field locations that don’t have reliable access to the grid.
It’s called SOL, and it was developed by a Canadian company called WeWi Telecommunications based in London, Ontario.
Sporting a solar array on the back of the display, SOL runs 8-10 hours on a charge – it takes about two hours to recharge in the sunlight.
This isn’t some barebones computer that has been stripped of useful features. It is rugged and waterproof, designed mainly for emerging markets or field locations where grid power isn’t readily available.
"We’ve taken care to introduce performance-enhancing capabilities into SOL, so it’s not only pretty, but probably the most powerful machine for its price," says the company on its website. "In harnessing the power of the sun into a long-lasting battery SOL is not only a green machine, but also a powerful device built for people who have no access to electricity. The optimized core and the computer’s architecture were designed to work with a battery so that you can work all night and achieve more than ever on a single charge."
According to the specifications listed, SOL includes Intel’s energy-efficiency Atom microprocessor technology, a hefty 320-gigabyte hard drive, a 13.3-inch liquid crystal display, multimode wireless communications features, and a 3-megapixel camera. It weighs 5.02 pounds.
The only drawback for some may be that the computer doesn’t run the Microsoft Windows operating system. It comes loaded with the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, along with a slew of free software applications that run on it.
WeWi’s laptop is priced starting at $350 for the non-waterproof edition and $400 for the submersible version.
SOL is targeted mainly at markets that don’t have a stable electric infrastructure, particularly Africa, the Middle East and South America.
Here’s the website: