Name: The Soulra
What it is: It's a compact sound system that also recharges iPods and iPhones, using solar energy or an A/C adapter. Features include a rubberized case and aluminum body, a battery-charge indicator and a protective cover for an iPod. It comes with the charger and remote control. The Soulra is meant to appeal to someone vacationing on a beach, fishing, boating or gardening — anywhere there aren't electrical outlets. The solar aspect also will interest the green community.
The good: It feels solid, with some heft reinforcing its nice industrial look. If you're using it at the pool or on the boat, you will appreciate the rubberized surface, which helps in getting a grip on the Soulra, even with wet hands. It's also splash- and dust-resistant, and the iPod or iPhone is protected by a plastic cover.
The bad: It takes a while to charge — 10 hours via solar, four hours through the charger. Also, we at first used an older iPod for the test (three of them, in fact), and we couldn't get any sound from the Soulra. We called customer support and found out older versions of the iPod might not work. We then borrowed a newer one, and we had a connection — and music. The sound quality was most acceptable for its intended use — out at the pool, in the yard, etc.
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Available at: Apple Store, amazon.com, Hammacher Schlemmer and other retailers. More information is at etonsoulra.com.