Six of the best gadgets and gizmos on a theme. This week: Six of the best solar-powered gadgets.
By Peter Jenkinson
After a few years of throwing decent subsidies at homeowners to get them to generate their electricity from solar panels, the Government has now cut some of the cash available as part of its austerity drive.
So, on a much lowlier scale, we've been on the hunt for fun and functional items that show solar power in action.
But before you dismiss our efforts, be aware that this range of gadgetry only needs daylight to operate and will save you cash on batteries.
In Case - Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio - £115.75 at www.amazon.co.uk
With such an array of iPad cases and stands to choose from, why not opt for one that really stands out from the crowd? Open this protector up and it connects a full Qwerty keyboard to your device via Bluetooth to enable speedy input and offers a handy stand too. Powered by natural light, you'll always have plenty of juice and could well have that novel of yours finished in no time.
Power Station - Freeloader Pico Solar Charger - £17.99 from www.firebox.com
Even though the sun is 93 million miles away from Earth, this ingenious gadget soaks up the orb's power and stores it for that most annoying of moments when your mobile phone runs out of juice. With several adaptors for a range of handsets, you just plug in the Freeloader Pico, which boasts its own solar panel, to download some of that energy, in some cases up to 35 hours-worth.
Outdoor Concert - Eton Soulra XL - £199.99 from www.nevadamusic.co.uk
No need to pop in your earphones when you're out and about, let your music roam free on this rather chic-looking docking station, even when you are far from a plug socket. The fold-out solar panel will soak up all the power you need to keep the internal speakers pumping out the tunes for all to enjoy and it'll store some of the energy away for use when the sun goes down.
Kids' Stuff - Green Science Solar Robot - £15.49 from www.brightsparktoys.co.uk
Using a solar panel and a motor, build your own moving mini-robot with this easy-to-follow kit. Your 'bot will wander about when exposed to some rays and by recycling everyday bits and pieces, you can turn it into a dinosaur or monster-style robot.
Royal Wave - Solar Queen - £14.95 from www.red5.co.uk
Celebrate Her Majesty by always having on hand her iconic wave. This solar-powered windowsill filler will have passers-by glancing and grinning - and most likely offering a return wave, too. Available in a outfit to match the hue of your room, we think this is a contender for the 'don't know why I want one but I do' gadget of 2012.
Garden Glows - Petal Solar Light - £14.95 from www.red5.co.uk
If you hate the demands of pruning and watering, get a few of these planted around your garden. The solar panel soaks up the rays during the day and lights up your patio area by night. They're ideal for outdoor entertaining or just brightening up the place. Why leave them outside, though? Put some in indoor plant pots and they'll add a fair amount of style to your abode, too.
App of the week: Solar: Weather - 69p from iTunes
This simple weather app makes for a visually pleasurable experience. View the weather for up to four destinations on screen, then hone in on one and see a screen with the time, date, weather condition (rainy, sunny, or partly cloudy) and temperature in the upper corner while a colourscape fills the background in hues to reflect the time of day.