The week in gadgets, featuring chargers powered by solar energy and movement

15 Oct 2012

The nPower PEG

A look at gadget happenings, as Nokia and nPower introduce alternative power sources for smartphones, Logitech launches new peripherals for gaming enthusiasts and future Windows 8 users, and Nike’s SportWatch range gets a new addition.

Alternative power

The Portable Solar Charger DC-40 is a pilot project from Nokia to help reduce its products’ impact on the environment and to bring mobile communications to those who may not have regular access to electricity.

Consisting of a thin film panel, 3m cable and 2mm Nokia connector, the 93g charger is easily transported and one minute of charging offers about two minutes’ talk time.

According to a World Bank report, only 16pc of Kenyans and 51pc of Nigerians had regular access to electricity between 2007 and 2011, which is why Nokia is piloting the Solar Charger with thousands of people in these countries.

Nokia Portable Solar Charger DC-40

For users looking for alternative power sources elsewhere, they can now order an nPower PEG (personal energy generator) online for US$199.95.

This 10.5-inch long cylinder (main picture) contains a weight, springs, inductive coil and battery. The weight inside moves up and down when the user walks or runs, creating kinetic energy which is then stored in the internal battery. This energy can then be transferred to your phone via the USB 2.0 port.

Built for charging small devices like smartphones or multimedia players, the nPower PEG will give a tablet computer some juice, but not a full charge, and you can forget about charging a laptop. The device ships with a USB cable and micro-USB adaptor, but iPhone or iPod users will need to buy a special adaptor separately – story of their life, eh?

Logitech’s latest accessories

Logitech has a range of peripherals prepared for the influx of Windows 8 devices set to follow the operating system’s launch on 26 October. These accessories are designed for use with the Windows 8 touch interface, replicating the touch experience users are accustomed to on smartphones and tablets.

First there’s the Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650 with a large glass surface that supports Windows 8 gestures, such as edge gestures for app switching, app bar and charms bar activation; pinch to zoom; and three-finger swipe to return to start screen. Point, left-click, right-click and scroll functions can be performed anywhere on the pad, which includes an embedded sensor for precise tracking and navigation.

Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650

There are also two Windows 8-ready wireless mice, the Touch Mouse T620 and Zone Touch Mouse T400. The T620 is the higher-end option with a full-touch surface recognising gestures performed anywhere on the mouse. The T400 features a glass touch zone and rubber grip, combining the standard functionality of a traditional mouse with gesture control capabilities for Windows 8.

Logitech Touch Mouse T620 Logitech Zone Touch T400

Logitech’s Touch Mouse T620 (left) and Zone Touch Mouse T400

Logitech has also introduced a new accessory for gamers, the G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. This 110-key keyboard is the latest in its G series of high-performance gaming accessories, aiming to bring gamers a fast, durable keyboard with minimal noise.

Optimised for rapid command entry, non-clicking key switches have built-in dampening rings underneath each keycap to significantly reduce noise. The entire keyboard is backlit in white LED light which can be adjusted to four different brightness levels or switched off completely, and the brightness of the WASD and arrow keys can be adjusted independently for better visibility.

Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The G710+ has been tested by both professional and everyday gamers. It was also tested for durability and has demonstrated a life cycle of at least 50m keystrokes. The keyboard is compatible with Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista and will be available in December at a recommended retail price of €149.

Nike+ SportWatch goes for… silver

The Nike+ SportWatch range has been expanded to include a new white and silver edition. These fashionable sport watches help sports enthusiasts and athletes track their time, pace, distance, heart rate and calories burned as they exercise via the high-visibility backlit LCD, while GPS powered by TomTom provides accurate route recaps.

The SportWatch also comes with motivational features like run reminders and access to NikeFuel, a community based on sharing sports performance.

Nike+ SportWatch

Apparently the new look has been inspired by Olympic champions Mo Farah and Allyson Felix – surely it should be gold and not silver then? Oh well.

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Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic