Xenta has produced a low-cost consumer solar panel, aimed primarily as outdoor use for charging your mobile devices. At just £40, it it any good?
At 19.6 x 29.3cm the panel is slightly smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. With cloth stitching around the panel on one side and a cloth back, with mesh pocket, it’s all black appearance isn’t unattractive. The mesh pocket on the back has a couple of elastic straps to hold your device in place, with a USB connection port next to it. Sadly, it’s been designed with small screen devices in mind – and by that I mean previous generations iPhones primarily. My 5.5″ OnePlus One didn’t fit, however I’m able to close the zip around it instead, adding a modicum of security (but not as much as zipping it entirely within the pocket).
On top is a simple strap, although the box states it “includes straps for hanging from backpack”. Not sure why “strap” is pluralised, and I’m not sure how you’d actually secure it to a backpack. It would have been better to have had some way to undo the strap so it could be tied around things.
So, how does it perform? It boasts it can output up to 1A. Sadly, the skys were pretty overcast when I tested in. In such conditions I got 200-300 mAh from it. In brighter conditions I got 500 mAh, although I’m sure you could get a lot more from much brighter sunshine. Inside, held under artificial light, it didn’t register anything. To put this into context my phone often uses around 500 mAh when the screen is on and I’m otherwise not doing much. Obviously, it will use less once the screen is off but at no point did this actually add any additional charge to my phone – it just prevented it from dropping any further.
But, you know, I think I’ve found the perfect solution – attach a cheap power bank to this and allow it to charge that up. Then connect to the power bank, whether sunny or not, for a free re-charge. Stick this in a sunny window and it’s an ideal alternative use, when you’re not out and about.
The packaging is a simple cardboard box and a small instruction leaflet, which is very nice to see. The box is a bit thick for its contents and could be slimmer, but that’s just nit-picking now.
It works quite well for the price. The panel isn’t the latest in solar technology, so doesn’t particularly like anything other than direct sunlight, and the mesh pocket doesn’t hold anything other than the smallest of phones, but if you’re looking for a quick top-up of your mobile device whilst you’re out-and-about then this is ideal.
Disclosure of gift - I received this product at a discounted price in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.