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Solar power in your pocket
Solar power in your pocket
Solio Magnesium Edition


Clean, renewable power sources are hard to find when you're on the road. And the alternatives -- lugging extra batteries or fighting for wall outlets at the airport -- aren't pretty.

But here comes the sun: A small army of tech vendors is cashing in on the green gadget craze with portable solar chargers. One of our favorites, the Solio Magnesium Edition, is a pocket-size power pack that opens like a fan to reveal three solar panels, which collect energy you can use to charge handheld electronic devices such as BlackBerrys, digital cameras and iPhones. It's also a hybrid; if you don't have 10 hours to leave the Solio lying in the sun, you can cheat and charge the internal battery by plugging the device into a standard outlet.

When it comes to charging the power-hungriest gadget of all -- your laptop -- portable solar technology still has a long way to go. Brunton makes the lightweight and flexible Solaris 26 solar panel ($626), which gathers energy to store in power packs like the Brunton Solo 7.5 ($372). But with its multiple parts and tangle of cords, Brunton's system is an unwieldy -- not to mention expensive -- choice. A less pricey option is Voltaic's Generator ($399), a rigid solar-paneled briefcase. Unfortunately, it weighs more than four pounds. However, the many benefits of switching to renewable energy may justify the shoulder pain. -- Lora Kolodny

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