When the first iPad debuted in 2010 it caught the fledgling e-reader market off guard. The iPad was a device that allowed users to do everything they could do on their Kindles or NOOKs, and a whole lot more. As Amazon suddenly found itself playing catch-up, one of the selling points they hit hardest when advertising the Kindle was the fact that the e-ink display was easier to read in bright sunlight (which, to be fair, is absolutely true).
Now, SolarFocus wants to bring a whole new dimension to Amazon’s argument. The new SolarKindle, just unveiled at CES in Las Vegas, is the first solar powered e-reader cover. Designed for the Amazon Kindle, the folio-style cover sports a large solar panel, a high-powered (up to 800 lux) LED reading light, and a reserve battery. Able to function in a variety of lighting conditions, the solar panel charges both the Kindle and the cover’s built-in reserve battery. The reserve battery charges the Kindle when necessary, as well as the LED reading light. The cover also includes an external port that matches the one on the bottom of the Kindle, allowing users to charge both the Kindle and the reserve battery via USB, if they want or need to. The reserve battery requires 8 hours of sunlight to charge fully, but once charged nearly doubles the battery of the Kindle.
The SolarKindle is available for preorder on SolarFocus’s website. It costs $79.99 and will be available on January 14th. Also, the SolarKindle earned SolarFocus recognition as a 2012 Design and Engineering Award Honoree at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is going on now.[Source: SolarFocus Press Release]