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FreeLoader iSIS Solar Charger Review
      #47154 - 10/16/14 01:55 PM

The FreeLoader iSIS, made by Solar Technology International, is an external battery pack that features a 4000mAh rechargeable battery, built-in Lightning and Mini USB cables, and a solar cell for off-the-grid charging.



Size

The FreeLoader iSIS Solar Charger is just under 5" long and 4" wide (slightly larger with the silicone skin on) and will easily fit into backpacks, purses, and generously sized pockets.



Features and Quality

The FreeLoader iSIS Solar Charger is solidly constructed from metal and ribbed matte black plastic, and appears to be very tough; even more so when ensconced within the included silicone skin. It is also easily the most feature-rich battery pack I've ever tested. Of course it includes the typical mini-USB port for charging itself, and a full-sized USB port for charging other devices. However, it also includes two built-in charging cables of its own (Lightning and Mini USB) that tuck neatly into grooves on the side of the battery until needed. Apple users should not underestimate the value of this, considering the price of Lightning Cables, and not having to dig for a cable every time I want to charge something on the go is actually my favorite feature of the Isis.



Its big claim to fame, however, is the solar panel that occupies nearly the entire top of the device. If you are looking for something for your "Go Bag" or spend a lot of time off the grid this handy little feature will likely set your mouth to drooling. Unfortunately, although the panel is described as being very efficient, like all solar panels, it is functionally limited by its surface area. Initial tests showed the Isis charging approximately 25% of its 4000mAh capacity in a full day of strong September sunlight. However, subsequent tests after the battery was a bit more conditioned yielded results about twice that, or 2000mAh/day. Certainly nothing to sneeze at, especially considering its diminutive size, however, cord cutters looking for a way to charge their smartphones every day without using the energy grid are probably going to come up a bit short on today's larger devices. Still, this would be more than enough to keep a lightly used cell phone topped off every day, and would be a literal lifesaver in an emergency situation. As previously noted, the Isis weighs-in at 4000mAh, which is a bit on the light side by today's standards. It's certainly enough to charge any smartphone on the market, and some of them two or three times. I just wish it were large enough to juice up my iPad Mini.



Style

Its matte black and metal construction gives it a rugged and aggressive look; perfect for the outdoorsy types or those just wanting to look like the outdoorsy types.

Summary

While the FreeLoader iSIS Solar Charger is priced at the high-end for battery packs, it is important to remember what you are getting for your hard-earned money: two built-in cables, rugged construction, and a functional solar panel all in a device that is less than 5" x 4".

Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: Built-in Lightning and Mini USB cables. Built-in solar panel for off-the-grid charging. Includes removable rugged silicone skin.
What's Not: Requires several days of full sunlight to fully recharge via solar. 4000mAh capacity is a bit on the small side by current standards.
Price: $100
Web site: Solar Technology

Reviewed by: Tom Slayton








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