San Francisco’s climate isn’t exactly “ideal” for solar-powered gadgets, in that the appearance of the sun is a rare and fleeting occasion. But the output and sound clarity you get from the Eton Soulra XL boombox are surprisingly decent.
You don’t have to worry about finding an outlet or putting down a 10-spot for 40 minutes worth of D-cells, since it thing charges as you use it with a gigantor 465sqm solar panel. The panel swivels, so you don’t have to re-position the entire box just to keep it in direct light. It’s loud and clear for being a mere 22W portable system. The rubberised exterior makes it water-resistant, so it’s safe (enough) to keep poolside.
The Soulra XL is hefty at 3kg. In direct sunlight, it charges in about five ungodly long hours. Or, if you’re in a hurry, it also charges via DC input in about 90 minutes though that rather defeats the purpose. And those five hours may be a fair trade-off compared to my old boombox’s crippling D-battery addiction but it’s still a long-ass time to wait for your tunes. The anti-glare cover is a great idea, but requires keeping the screen’s backlight to actually see anything it’s displaying.