Arctic C1 Mobile Solar Charger Review

Posted Sep 14, 2010
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I believe 2010 decade is going to be all about mobile computers and green and efficient energy. Why? Because most people don’t like to be confined to their tables anymore or carry heavy notebooks. Because most people now like to get things done one the go. Because most people have now finally realized that global warming is real and its our last chance to correct our ways. And most importantly its because I’ve been shipped the second solar charger to be reviewed within two weeks. So yeah both consumers and manufacturers are now caring about the environment as they are pushing for more and more powerful, compact computers.

The last solar charger I reviewed was the Monaco Solar Charger, and while it wasn’t really perfect – it still managed to become a part of my daily life. In fact I grew dependent on it so much that now it’s my primary source of charging my phone every night. And the only real issues I had with Monaco’s Solar Charger were that it wasn’t really good looking, was large in size and had a small battery for its size. From the outside, Arctic C1 looks like it faces none of these issues, but is really good enough to be a replacement for my current charger? Jump on into the full review to find out.

Specifications

Physical Attributes

USB port

1 Port

Input solar panel

5.5 V / 80 mA

Input USB

5 V / 300 mA

Li-ion rechargeable battery

4440 mAh

Output

DC 5.5 V / 500 mA

Dimensions

110 (L) x 43 (W) x 12 (D) mm

Weight

52 g

Warranty

2 Years

Manufacturer code

DCACO-AC003-CSA01

EAN-Code

087276700327-9

Notice that the Arctic C1 Mobile packs a large 4440 mAh battery, which should make it more than capable of charging high end smartphones at least two or three times before requiring a recharge it self.

Packaging and Design

The Arctic C1 Mobile comes in a plastic pack. You can tear open the pack to take out the charger and the accompanying accessories which include a charger extension cable, and four adaptors for Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola (mini-USB), and Samsung. Surprisingly, there was no micro-USB adapter included which I believe is now the more common standard port on the smartphones. There also wasn’t a USB wall charger in the box. If you want to charge the C1 mobile from the wall, you’d have to use a regular Arctic C1, C1 GT, or C2 or just about any other USB wall charger you have.

The charger itself had a sleek design, something I haven’t seen on other portable chargers. The front side of the charger has a large solar panel and an LED array below it which show you the charge level when its charging. The elevated bridge/handle on the top while doesn’t serve any real purpose, it gives a rather nice look to the charger.

The bottom side of the charger has two ports. A standard USB for output (charging devices) and a mini-USB port for input (charging the charger itself). The back side of the charger lists some technical information about the charger.

The charger is relatively small in size. It was only slightly longer than my 5th generation iPod Nano, and about two millimeters smaller than my Nokia 5630 XpressMusic. It was also incredibly light for its size, specially compared to my Monaco Solar Charger, making it quite pocketable.

Performance

I tested the Arctic C1 Mobile charger with a couple of devices including phones, media players and the Arctic Sound S111 speakers. The batteries of all the devices were completely drained before testing and the charge times were measured until the device reported a 100% full battery.

While the charge times for all the devices were slightly longer than when charging them directly from a wall outlet, they were comparable to when charging them from a computer’s USB port and even slightly faster than the Monaco Solar Charger. The charger itself took about 3 to 4 hours to charge from my PC’s USB port and under 3 hours when charging it from the wall directly (ironically using the USB wall adapter that came with the Monaco Solar Charger).

But since this product is a solar charger, its sunlight performance also greatly matters specially when you run out of battery on a long trip. Charging the Arctic C1 Mobile in direct sunlight on an average summer sunny day here in Lahore, Pakistan, took about 9 to 10 hours. Comparing this to the near 8 hours it takes the Monaco Solar Charger, you’d think that the Arctic C1 is really slow. But keep in mind that the Arctic C1 has a 4440 mAh battery which is about 2.5 times larger than Monaco’s.

In fact the battery was large enough to yield multiple rechargers before the charger had to be recharged itself – a feat I couldn’t pull off with the Monaco Solar Charger which I have to recharge every time I charge my phone.

Conclusion

When I received the Arctic C1 Mobile, I had immediately started comparing it to the Monaco Solar Charger I already had. Most of my concern revolved around charging performance, as well as the design of the device. I was also considering the ease of use and the retail price into the equation.

While in terms of design, capacity and price, for 16,95 € / US$ 24.60 the Arctic C1 easily takes the cake. As for ease of use, my reactions were mixed. While I really liked the fact that the C1 Mobile ships with multiple adapters, the decision of not including a USB wall charger and instead relying on a separate purchase was a complete no brainer for me. In fact if you include the price of an Arctic C1 USB Wall charger, the Monaco Solar Charger ends up being the cheaper solution.

Of course not everyone would need to buy a new USB Wall charger because chances are that you already have a couple of them laying around which came with another device. If that’s the case, I’d recommend that you grab an Arctic C1 Mobile solar charger without a single thought. But if you also need a wall charging solution, then I’d say that you do consider your options. But I personally would still get the Arctic C1 Mobile because of its larger battery despite the higher combined price.

Pros

  • Large Battery
  • Attractive Design
  • 4 different kinds of adapters
  • Cheap for the capacity it has

Cons

  • No USB Wall Charger
  • Tends to be expensive if you include the price of a separate Arctic C1 USB wall charger

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