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British Gas Tech Digest.jpgreview-line.JPG Name: British Gas Remote Heating Control 

Type: Remote heating control system

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £199.99 (British Gas customers), £229.99 (non British Gas customers)

review-line.JPGBritish Gas has come up with a complete solution to control your home's heating using a mobile phone or web tablet. But is it worth the investment? Or should you stick with your old fashioned thermostat. Read on to find out.

With energy prices going through the proverbial roof the need to be able to control your home's heating has probably never been greater. British Gas has a solution which unfortunately doesn't involve putting the price of our bills down, but could potentially revolutionise the way we interact with our central heating.

It's called Remote Heating Control and is intended as a complete control solution for both British Gas and non British Gas customers (those without a British Gas contract will have to pay £30 more). Part of the reason for the cost is that you will need to book an engineer to install a new Smart Linked Thermostat and a hub that connects to a spare ethernet port on your broadband router (you need to have an always on broadband connection for the system to work). 

smart thermostat.JPGWhereas previously I had an old fashioned dial-based thermostat in the hallway which I used to control the temperature I wanted the house to reach before the heating switched off, the Smart Linked Thermostat (pictured right) provides more information than you can shake a stick at.

This includes the temperature you want the house to reach, the current temperature (to the nearest tenth of a degree), current time and a whole host of other controls that, frankly, I couldn't figure out how to access without a manual which unfortunately wasn't provided. In fact so complex is the thermostat that I found myself having to use my mobile phone to control it - even when I was inside the house!

Of course the whole point of the heating control system is that it works with an Android or iPhone mobile or tablet device so you can set when you want the heating to come on or off as well as using it to over ride the preset controls. Unfortunately the system can't be used to control your home's hot water which would have been useful for setting when you want more water for a bath or shower. Nor does it integrate with the gas provider's unit costs to show you exactly how much money you are spending on heating your home. Again I think this would have been a very useful addition.

ARP030512_BG Apps_Web83.jpg

So how easy it is to control your heating system remotely? Actually it's fairly easy once everything is set up. For advanced control (ie. to set the exact times for each day when you want the heating to go on and off), it's best to use your PC by logging in at Here you'll find a relatively easy to use graphical interface complete with slide controls for adjusting times. You can also use your PC to monitor temperature fluctuations in your house over a period of time so you can see if you are managing to keep your house warmer or not (see graphic on the right). 

British Gas temperature chart.jpg

However, for day to day controls I found the iPhone app is more than sufficient. As I like to switch the broadband connection off at night when I'm sleeping, it means that I can't control the heating at night (you get an email telling you that the broadband connection has been lost). 

But really that's not a problem. Given the recent poor weather the heating has been set to come on most afternoons and stay on until bedtime. On the odd occasion when it has been too warm for the heating I've switched it off using the slider option on the iPhone app. 

Conversely, if I've been away for a few days and the heating has been switched off, then I set it to come on remotely via the iPhone/iPad app. For example I recently went away to The Gadget Show in Birmingham for a few days over a cold Easter. Using the app I was able to check the temperature of my house in London. Realising that the temperature had fallen to a distinctly chilly 9 degrees, I set the heating to come on five hours before I was due to arrive home so that when I did step in through the front door it was a slightly more respectable (though still cold) 14.5 degrees.

RHC Desktop.jpg


At a time when gas and electric meters are still read manually by a little guy who comes round your house with a pair of stepladders, British Gas should be applauded for their efforts in bringing heating control kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The Remote Heating Control system is a neat solution that works well for those who want to adjust their home's heating either when they are at home or out and about. However, having lived with the control system for a few months I thought I would use it more than I actually do. Granted it's great if you want the house to be warm when you come home from a weekend away, but I think it would have been really useful to include more functionality especially the ability to monitor your spending on gas, even allow you to pay your bills remotely. With a price tag of nearly £200 it seems quite an expensive solution for what it does.



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laura-yecies-top.jpgAs cloud storage becomes more and more the norm for both consumers and businesses, concerns are being raised around the cloud's energy efficiency. Companies like Apple with their iCloud service have fallen foul of campaigns from the likes of Greenpeace, who claim that cloud storage data centres have poor green credentials.

It's a claim that Laura Yecies, CEO of leading cloud storage service SugarSync, strongly rebukes.

"It's totally ridiculous" said Yecies, speaking to Tech Digest at the launch of SugarSync 2.0, the latest version of the company's cloud storage platform.

"Cloud storage is not 100% efficient, but it's much, much less inefficient than the computer that you're using.

"Some of these articles are saying 'Well some of these dirty cloud server farms are only operating at 20% capacity'. Well home computers are only running at 5% capacity. The reality is that the cloud is much more efficient than masses of computers spread all around."

Yecies claimed that it was in SugarSync's best interests, both financially and morally, to be as green as possible.

"Companies like SugarSync, we are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible," Yecies continued.

"It's in our interests to minimise the use of power, and to minimise the use of resources. An interesting fact is that when we buy a server, typically the useful life of a server is three years. Over those three years we pay more in power than we did for the server. So we're very conscious of acquiring efficient servers; I'm better off getting a more expensive server that's more power efficient. Does any home consumer even think about that when buying their hardware? No; maybe when you buy a refrigerator, but not for computers. Servers are marketed, sold and bought all around energy efficiency.

"For me as a server customer, running a data centre business, my biggest expense is power. We'll run out of space at our centres not because of physical space but power requirements.

"Electricity consumption for data centres in the US is 2 or 3%, but consumers through their homes use way more than that. But all of it does need to get more efficient."

We've spent the last few weeks using the new SugarSync 2.0 cloud storage service. Click here for our thoughts.

Each year Orange come up with a barmy, green-friendly gadget to coincide with the UK's Glastonbury music festival. For instance, last year they revealed the "Hot Stepper Power Wellies" that charged mobile phones just by using the heat from your feet. They've really out-done themselves this year though; this morning they have revealed the Orange "Sound Charge" t-shirt that powers your mobile phone by using sound waves!

Using the same piezoelectric film that's found in hi-fi speakers, the Sound Charge absorbs the kinetic energy of sound waves, which are then converted by quartz crystals into charge stored in a connected battery.

Orange have calculated that sound levels at Glastonbury will average out at around 80dB over the weekend generating 6 watt hours of power. So, if you wear the shirt at all times and have your phone sitting in the front pouch connected to the charging pin, you should be able to fully power two regular mobile phones or one smartphone.

We can't think of a better place to test the Sound Charge, though wearing an item of clothing that's powering an electrical current during Glastonbury's almost customary downpours may not end with the desired results!

Check it out in action in the video above.

Futur Fusion helix.jpgWe're suckers for robots, cyborgs and visions of the future here at Tech Digest, so we jumped at the chance to get a closer look at the new Futur Fusion exhibition taking place in London's Covent Garden area. A showcase of sculpture, illustration and photography, the exhibition explores issues surrounding nanotechnology, bio-technology and sustainability, with a healthy dose of sci-fi chic thrown in for good measure.

Collecting work from illustrator Sebastian Clark, photographer Stephane Grand and sculptor Dominic Elvin (whose previous work includes the world famous design of Camden's Cyberdog store) it's a vibrant, futuristic exhibition galaxies apart from the sort of work you'd find in the Tate Britain.

"I'm obsessed with frontier science," enthused Elvin, "so I try to incorporate its ideas into my work."

"Isaac Asimov (pioneering sci-fi author - Ed.) was my original inspiration though, going back to when I was 12 or 13. My father gave me the Asimov "Foundation" books, and they transported me to this incredible world, filling me with ideas that never left my mind."

As much as the exhibition revels in visions of the future, the artists exhibiting also have one eye firmly fixed on the present. Specifically, Futur Fusion also looks at the way we're still failing to take green issues seriously.

As a result, much of Elvin's work uses recycled and reclaimed materials, the percentage of which in each work he proudly presents alongside his pieces.


"We're trying to show people that recycled art pieces don't have to be old washing machines looking like clunky robots, it can be really polished and cool. It's also about seeing materials in a different way - rubbish doesn't always have to be landfill waste," said Elvin.

Likewise, photographer Stephane Grand's work often acts to highlight the wasteful, destructive nature of consumerism, with a playful installation called "Mr Splatz" mimicking a chalk-line crime scene with garbage materials.

Despite the serious issues explored, the Futur Fusion team still exude playful enthusiasm for the works on show, keen to stress that the exhibit is fun and suitable for the whole family.

"Yesterday we had a big group of fifty kids with their teachers come in. They went crazy, you'd have thought they were at Disney Land! The teachers were really positive too as they're increasingly teaching about sustainability in lessons," said Elvin.

"For me that sort of response is fantastic, because they're exactly the people we're doing this for. They're the next generation, and they're going to have to pick up the shit left by this generation."

The exhibition kicked off on June 13th and runs until Saturday 18th June 2011. The Futur Fusion collection can be found at I.N.C Space, 9-13 Grape Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 8ED and is open to the public, free of charge, from 9am to 7pm.

For more info on the event, visit Alternatively, send the Futur Fusion team a message via Twitter by using the #FuturFusion hashtag.

Name: AlertMe Starter Kit

Type: Energy monitoring kit

Price: £49.99 direct from AlertMe

Image Gallery: Click here


In these penny-pinching times we need every bit of help we can get to keep our bills down. Is AlertMe the solution to keeping those electricity bills in check, or a needlessly expensive alternative to switching off the lights before heading on out for the day? Read on to find out.


The AlertMe Starter kit is made up of a battery-powered wireless transmitter that clips onto the cabling of your electricity meter and a receiver unit that's powered by the mains and is connected to your broadband router via an Ethernet cable. Despite being a self-installation kit, setting up was rather painless. Though hooking up to your electricity box may sound like a job for a trained electrician, in this case it merely means putting a clamp around the wiring in the box, though the transmitter itself is a bit on the chunky side meaning it may not fit snugly into every electricity box.

From there on in you head over to the AlertMe website and set up the receiver hub. After setting a few parameters, the configuration process syncs the transmitter and receiver together, which will then allow you to track your energy usage online. Again, step-by-step instructions make the process very simple, and before long you're viewing fairly detailed info on your electricity usage.

Once signed up for a subscription with AlertMe (£1.99 a month for 12 months), you can view your electricity usage online from the company website, or via a smartphone. The presentation of your electricity usage data is very colourful and friendly. A "power now" dial shows you the precise amount of energy that you're using at that moment in time, given in kW, with an update rate of around every ten seconds meaning you'll almost instantly see the effects of switching off a light or TV for instance. The software also gives an estimate of how much your monthly bill will amount to, how your usage compares to recent readings from the past few months, and how your usage compares on average to that of the rest of the country's. It'll even quite nicely compare your usage to travel/fuel needs; you may be told your usage for the week was enough to send a train to Shropshire, for instance.


Another nice feature is compatibility with Google's PowerMeter service. It syncs your AlertMe data with your Google account, allowing you to add a widget to your iGoogle dashboard. Google will then present you with daily usage rates, and email you once a week with how much electricity you've been using in a graph. It's a nice feature, but the AlertMe dashboard itself is so good that you'll unlikely need this feature very much.

Our testing with the AlertMe kit wasn't without its problems though. While initially our testing was sending back reasonably accurate electricity levels, we began to see sporadic spikes in our energy usage, with the AlertMe website alarmingly telling us that we were using enough electricity to send an aeroplane around the world several times. We were quickly set right by a replacement transmitter kit, but needless to say we were gobsmacked when the service initially suggested we should expect an electricity bill of several thousand pounds.

While not included in the AlertMe Starter kit, it's worth noting that you can buy a number of various add-ons for the pack to further give you on-the-go control over your energy usage. Smart Plugs let you remotely switch appliances off whilst out and about and cost £25, perfect if you've left the iron on, while a number of additional units will turn the AlertMe kit into a fully-functioning home security system too.



Despite the size of the chunky transmitter and odd reading issues we experienced, we were very impressed with AlertMe, at least in terms of presentation. The kit itself has an Apple-style look to it and wont be an eyesore by your router. It's a shame however that the receiver isn't Wi-Fi enabled,as it means yet another unsightly cable sitting around our broadband router. Also, for a piece a gadget that's designed to save you money, it doesn't come cheap. £49.99 is a reasonable price, but factor in that subscription charge and it'll be some time before you're seeing any real savings attributable to the AlertMe Start Kit.



H2OT-Shower-Powered-Radio.JPG Here's an interesting eco-friendly gadget - the world's first water-pressured radio.

Designed for use in the shower, the H2O Shower Powered Radio is powered solely through water, without the need for disposable batteries.

The FM radio is powered solely through the motion of water flowing through a small H2O™ micro turbine; driving a generator that creates energy to power the radio. An integral battery recharges as the shower runs.

The radio is both economically and environmentally friendly, harvesting energy that would otherwise, literally, go straight down the drain.

It simply connects to the shower hose and is compatible with 99 per cent of all showers. H20 claims that water pressure isn't affected but we should be getting a test sample very soon to try for ourselves.

Previously showcased on TV programme Dragon's Den, the radio is the brainchild of Vivian Blick, Managing Director of Tango Group, the owners of the H2O.

H20 radio (small).jpg Inventor Vivian Blick is also a former director of Freeplay Energy Group, the company behind the commercialisation of the Wind-up Radio, which was invented by Trevor Baylis OBE in the 1990s.

Says Blick:

"Having seen huge success with the commercialisation of the Wind-Up Radio we were constantly looking into new ways that further innovations in the radio sector could be made.

Creating the now-patented micro turbine technology, that allows the radio to operate solely through the flow of water, was the key to our new innovation; and thus the world's first water-powered shower radio was created."

The H20™ Shower Powered Radio will be available to purchase from March 2011. The recommended retail price is £34.99.



Ford Motor Company has unveiled its new Focus Electric - the company's first-ever all-electric passenger car.

The zero-CO2-emissions, gasoline-free version of Ford's popular Focus, is the companies first venture into electric vehicles and is positioned as a direct competitor to the Nissan Leaf. The car is to be the flagship of the company's growing fleet of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles which will be coming to North America and Europe by 2013.

Ford's entry into the electric car market is significant for a number of reasons. Not only does it demonstrates that electric technology is becoming serious business, but it also emphasizes the American auto industry's commitment to electric vehicles in the hope of rescuing the industry.

"Focus Electric is the flagship of our new family of electrified vehicles, showcasing our commitment to offer consumers choice when it comes to fuel-efficient or fuel-free vehicles," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president for Global Product Development. "Its advanced powertrain will deliver significant energy efficiency advantages and zero CO2 emissions without compromising driving enjoyment. And its suite of smart driver information technologies will transform the way customers think about energy usage and their transportation needs."

Ford has announced that the Focus Electric will launch in late 2011. The car will offer a mile-per-gallon equivalent better than Chevrolet Volt and competitive with other battery electric vehicles. It is also expected that a full recharge will take three to four hours at home with the 240-volt charge station -half the charge time of the Nissan Leaf.

The Focus Electric also introduces a whole host of new features and technologies - including a unique version of the MyFord Touch driver connect system especially for electric vehicles, a new value charging feature powered by Microsoft and a smartphone app called MyFord Mobile that helps plug-in owners control their vehicles remotely.

Electric vehicles are nothing new and hybrid vehicles, such as the Prius, have already proved themselves to be a successful, however, the American automotive industry has been a bit slow in taking on board the technology. So with Ford finally entering the game, it will be interesting to see how electric vehicles take off.

Got a good idea which re-uses or mashes-up existing technologies and products to tackle today's environmental challenges? Well Sony and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) want to hear from you.

They are behind a new initiative called Open Planet Ideas which has been formed to answer questions like how do we make better use of our scarce natural resources? And how can we actively change people’s behaviour to encourage more sustainable lifestyles?

A panel of experts has already sifted through an incredible 335 of inspiring ideas. And it has pulled them together into six themes to form this challenge. These themes include: changing behaviour, cleaner by design, more with less, make it real, waste not and recycling revisited.

So now it’s over to you. Take a look at Sony's technology showcase and start thinking about how you could re-use, combine or mash-up these and any other technologies to address the challenge. You can applaud other people’s concepts or refine them further. Best of all, why not contribute a concept of your own here.

The expert panel, along with the community, will select the concepts that most excite them. Once the winning concept is chosen, its contributors will work together with these experts to make the final concept real.

To help get you started, Tech Digest has come up with its very own concept: an intelligent car sharing device that tells you if people nearby are making similar car journeys to your own. You can see the full details here.

To view the challenge brief itself go here:  You can also visit  for more details as well as watch the video below for more inspiration.


Open Planet Ideas

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Find Out More About Open Planet Ideas

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HaloIPT recently demonstrated how their inductive power transfer technology can be used to charge electric vehicles wirelessly.

The company fitted Citroen electric cars with receiver pads on the underside of the car, which allows the battery to be charged wirelessly. Currently electic cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi I-MiEV require an electric cable to be connected from a socket on the side of the car to street-side power station or electrical socket at home. ITP technology uses inductive charging through electrical pads buried under the asphalt on the road. Not only making them invisible, but protecting them from the weather.

According to HaloIPT a commercial scale demo of their IPT technology is expected in 2012.


Today Logitech announced the first solar powered keyboard - the Wireless Solar Keyboard K750.

This isn't your typical solar powered gadget though, the keyboard can be charged by indoor light and will stay charged for an impressive three months even if left in total darkness.

Unlike a lot of gadgets that run off solar power, it seems that Logitech has not skimped on the specs. Offering 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity, this keyboard should keep you up and going with virtually no delays or dropouts. It also includes 128-bit AES encryption to make sure whatever your typing doesn't end up in the wrong hands. We were also impressed that in order to further minimize it's footprint, the keyboard is made of PVC-free materials and comes in fully recyclable packaging.

The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is expected to be available in Europe in January for a suggested retail price of £69.99.

Nissan have today lifted the covers off their new LEAF design, the world's first purpose-built 100% electric family car.

Clocking up 100 miles for just £2.50's worth of power, and requiring only half an hour to get an 80% battery charge, it's green credentials and budget benefits are plain to see.

The timing also couldn't be better for the LEAF's UK reveal. With the Government's just-announced 1p tax increase on fuel set to hit driver's pockets hard, many may be swayed more than ever towards the benefits of electric vehicles.

Research consultancy, Frost & Sullivan forecasts more than 100,000 sales of EVs in the UK by 2015, and the LEAF itself already has one high-profile fan in the shape of cycling star Lance Armstrong.

"Anytime you talk about technology -- if it's a computer, or if it's a phone, or if it's a bicycle -- you always talk about 'next level,'" says Armstrong.  Next level is the stuff that just blows you away. The LEAF was just really, in my opinion, what I would call next level."

The public will be able to see the car for the first time at the Innovation Station at today at London's O2 Arena, before driving off on a nationwide tour.

The free exhibition also features fun driving sims, a virtual car design programme for budding engineers and interactive games that show visitors how electric vehicles can change the way people will drive and live in the future.

Here's the hard facts about the Nissan Leaf, as stated in its press release:

Length: 4445mm

Height: 1550mm


Wheelbase: 2770mm

Price: £23,990, including £5,000 Government incentive for ultra-low emission vehicles and the recently announced 20% VAT rate, both to be introduced from January

On sale: March 2011, with reservations available online via

Battery Capacity/Power
: 24kWh laminated lithium-ion battery / over 90kW

Electric Motor (power/torque)
: High-response synchronous AC motor (80kW / 280Nm)

Running costs: 2.5p per mile or £2.50 per 100miles

Range: Around 100miles on one charge (US LA4 Mode Test)

Top speed
: 90mph approx

: Can be charged at home on a regular socket at 13amps

Standard charge: 8-10 hours for standard full charge

Rapid charge
: 30 minutes for rapid charge to 80% state of charge

Design: LEAF is a purpose-built electric vehicle, not an existing model that has been modified to house battery technology

: Integrated Smartphone control, allowing drivers to interact with the vehicle remotely, including heating and cooling the car and monitoring its charging process. Touch-screen satellite navigation showing distance available on current charge and location of nearest charging points

Additional benefits: No VED car tax or London congestion charge. Further tax benefits include no benefit In Kind tax (fuel and car) for company car user-choosers and no National Insurance Contributions for fleet managers.

Orange Power Wellies top.JPGHere's a great gadget idea for the green-conscious festival goer (or tech savvy farmer for that matter). Introducing the Hot Stepper Orange Power Wellies that can charge your mobile phone just by using the heat from your feet.

How's this work? Well according to the press release from Orange: "The power collected in the 'power generating sole' is collected via a process known as the 'Seebeck' effect. Inside the power generating sole there are thermoelectric modules constructed of pairs of p-type and n-type semiconductor materials forming a thermocouple. These thermocouples are connected electrically forming an array of multiple thermocouples (thermopile). They are then sandwiched between two thin ceramic wafers. When the heat from the foot is applied on the top side of the ceramic wafer and cold is applied on the opposite side, from the cold of the ground, electricity is generated."

Get all that? Me neither, but it basically means that for 12 hours of trudging through sludge or jumping around in front of Glastonbury's Pyramid stage, you'll get about one hour's worth of power for your phone.

Andrew Pearcey, Head of Sponsorship at Orange UK said: "Orange remain loyal to the green ethos of the Glastonbury Festival and are committed to researching exciting new energy sources that can be used on site to ensure people can stay in touch with their nearest and dearest. The Orange Power Wellies use clean and renewable energy to create valuable electricity ensuring festival goers can text and phone their mates for the duration of the weekend".

Sadly, it's only at the prototype stage at the moment, which means your unlikely to be able to pull on a pair of these before the festival season kicks in.

To be honest, I'm not sure I'd recommend brining a flashy smartphone to a festival anyway. That is unless you want it covered in mud and cow poo by the end of the weekend. Still, great idea though!

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Review - Infinit Solar Charger Bag



Name: Infinit Solar Charger Bag

Type: Backback with solar-powered gadget charging technology

Price: £89.99 (Infinit)

As the Summer sun slowly begins to peek through the ever-present layer of British cloud-cover, you're probably looking to head on out, tastelessly displaying your milk bottle legs in a pair of shorts, beer in hand, ready to catch some rays. You'll probably want to bring an MP3 player with you for a few tunes and your mobile to call your mates on too. But what if a technophile's worst nightmare comes true and you suddenly find yourself without any battery power for your many gadgets? Enter the Infinit Solar Charger Bag to save the day.

The bag features a 2.4w photovoltaic solar panel on its outside to harvest the sun's rays ,which it then stores in a high capacity 2000mAH Li-ion battery, safely stored away in a pouch inside. Detach the battery from the solar panel and you're then free to use its stored energy to power hundreds and hundreds of devices using the myriad included connections. These include anything from a Nintendo DS to an iPhone or TomTom GPS device (click here to view the full list of compatible devices). You can even plug the battery into both the solar panel and the gadget to be charged at the same time, giving you continuous power providing you stay in quite strong sunlight. The battery can also be pre-charged from a mains supply if you want ready portable energy before you leave the house.


It's a great, green way to stay charged while on the go, and requires very little fuss to attach the many compatible devices it's capable of powering. The battery itself has a great capacity, offering roughly enough power to charge an iPhone twice-over when it has maximum solar power stored. Charging the battery is not always a smooth process though; the length of time it takes to fully power up the battery is very dependant on the amount of sunlight you expose the solar panel to. On a day of bright weather it hit maximum capacity within a reasonable 8 hours, but on a dark, wet, overcast day it was closer to 11 or 12 hours, give or take. It's also worth noting that the Infinit Solar Charger Bags currently don't support charging abilities for laptops or netbooks, though Infinit have suggested this will be on the way in later designs.

As a rucksack, the Inifinit Solar Charger Bag can't be knocked. It's a little weighty at 1.4kg, thanks to the built-in solar panel, but it seems more spacious than its 25 litre capacity would suggest. There are copious amounts of pockets and pouches, including an elasticated spot for laptops up to 15 inches in size. Straps are heavily padded and adjustable, and there's a clever mesh air-flow system for keeping your back cool while the bag is being carried. All in, it's a well built bag that should easily see you through some rugged usage.

Inifint Solar powered bag.jpg

How useful you'll find the Infinit Solar Charger Bag is, quite obviously, down to how much time you spend in the sun. It's a great rucksack by conventional standards, with plenty of space and useful pockets, and it is very comfortable on the back, even during prolonged, intensive journeys. But if you live in a dreary corner of the world weather-wise, you may feel that the extra premium you pay for the solar tech wont be worth it. On the other hand, if you're an outdoors type who is always out hiking, is looking to do a bit of globe-trotting or are even planning on attending a couple of music festivals this year then it really comes into its own, providing on-the-go power from Mother Nature herself.


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proporta cases.jpg
If you're the sort of person who keeps a track on your carbon footprint with every carefully weighted step, you may want to have a look at Proporta's latest Smart range of eco-freindly smartphone cases.

With a strong focus on sustainability, these green screen protectors and pouches feature no wasted packaging whatsoever. In a spark of genius, the bamboo packaging which lets the pouch hang on retail store hooks is removed and put inside a pocket of the hessian or recycled leather pouches to give your handset maximum protection.

Guy Monson, co-founder of Proporta said: "In early 2008, we decided that we wanted to do more than simply pay money to offset carbon emissions and rename products 'green'. 

"Ever since then we've been conducting extensive research on how we can run our business in a more sustainable manner - looking at every aspect, from the drawing board to the manufacturing and supply chain.  Proporta Smart is the culmination of this and we hope we shall be able to adapt some of the best features from the range into the rest of our products".

Pouches and screen protectors are available for the iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch, iPod Classic, iPod Nano, Blackberry Bold 2, and HTC Desire. There is also a cover for Apple's iPad available in the range, which also doubles up as a free-standing tablet holder.

Prices start at £19.95. Click here to check out the Proporta Smart range in full.

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intel_logo.jpgIntel have been showing off their new Moorestown mobile processor, now renamed the Intel Atom Z-Series. Thanks to the processor's intelligent power consumption, they believe that they'll be able to offer a phone with ten days worth of battery life from a single charge by the end of the year.

The chip, now officially launched, will offer speeds of 1.5Ghz for mobile handsets and 1.9Ghz for tablet devices. As well as ten day's worth of standby power, the new chip wil allow mobile devices to run audio playback for 2 whole days, 720p video and internet browsing for 5 hours, 1080p video for 4 hours and 3G calls for 6 hours.

The Atom Z-Series chips are able to offer these extended playback times by only powering on specific elements of the chip as needed by the task in question.

All phones using the chip will also have the ability to house multiple 5-megapixel cameras for both still and video recording and video calling, and 1080p video with HDMI output.

Android phones will be supported, as well as devices on Intels own new Linux-based Meego platform. Windows Phone 7 and Windows 7 tablet devices are not currently supported, though Intel expect that to change in the future.

The new processors will be in phones in UK shops by the second half of 2010.

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BestBuyLogo.jpgBest Buy, the massive US tech retailer, are opening stores in the UK this week, with the first opening in Lakeside on the 30th April. But it's not just hard-drives and gadgets for sale; Best Buy UK are set to carve out a niche for themselves by offering a fairly extensive range of green, electric powered vehicles.

The electric bicycle range will include the GoCycle, Ultramotor and Moore and Large's iZip bikes. There will also be electric motorbikes on sale, including the Enertia, and the Urban Citi, Urban Tourer and Classic electric scooters from Xero Tech.

For those with a fair-bit more cash to burn, Best Buy will also be "showcasing" the Tesla Roadster electric car (a steal at £87,000) and the more affordable Citroen C1 ev'ie.

Click the image below to fire up our gallery of what Best Buy has to offer.

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mobile mountain.jpgNew research from has revealed that Britain is sitting on a mountain of as many as 68 million unused or unwanted mobile phones.

A sample study of 1,332 past and present mobile owners showed that two thirds (65%) of the UK have at least unused mobile phone cluttering up the house homes. Almost a fifth (19%) admitted to having as many as three or more unused mobiles.

Keir McConomy, MD of, commented, "It is apparent that the majority of UK consumers haven't thought about what to do with their old mobiles once they stop using them, and as such don't know the potential value they hold. Far more than just taking up space around the house, these phones are in fact a wasted source of money with the plethora of websites and companies willing to give you cold, hard cash for recycling your old phone."

With the average exchange price of an unwanted mobile sitting at around £25, that adds up to a massive £1.7 billion worth of unwanted blowers waiting to be cashed in.

You might want to start digging around for that dusty old Nokia 3210!

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Duracell Rechargeable Accu Range
Name: Rechargeable Accu range - StayCharged Cells, Instant Charger, Fast 1 Hour Charger and Easy Charger (Duracell)
Type: Rechargeable batteries, battery chargers and portable USB power
Prices: Instant Charger - £34.99, Fast 1 Hour Charger - £29.99, Easy Charger - £8.13 (Amazon)

It can be hard to get very excited about rechargeable batteries, but this latest Rechargeable Accu range of cells and chargers from Duracell do a good job of grabbing your attention. Tidily designed as far as chargers go and efficient when at work, Tech Digest recently got to have some extensive testing time with the gear.

Duracell claim the range have been inspired by the "current fashion trend for sleek, sculptural shapes" and brands such as BMW and Apple. While it's a stretch to call the chargers pretty in their own right, it's nice to see some synergy across the set, with the copper-topped Duracell look making an appearance across all the gear.

Duracell Instant Charger.jpg

The first of the sold-separately devices we played about with was the Instant Charger, designed for portable USB to USB Mini power when away from a powered USB connection. Pocket friendly at 45 grams and roughly two inches in length, the Instant Charger, once charged itself for about 2 or 3 hours, made good on its promise of an additional 50 hours iPod playback and 180 iPhone minutes. Charging two items at once from the Instant Charger impressively didn't really affect the results too much, while an on/off switch made it easy to preserve power on the device when not in use. However, the lack of a packed-in Apple cable seems a bit stingy, considering the number of people who'd benefit from one.


Next up were the new AA StayCharged cells and associated battery chargers. The StayCharged batteries come pre-charged, which is a relief for those looking for some instant power from their new batteries. While we haven't had the time to test Duracell's claim that the batteries retain 80% of their charge after up to a year when not in use, the 5X longer battery life promise compared to other brands emblazoned on the packaging seems fair. Tech Digest got somewhere in the region of a week's worth of pretty extensive Wii remote play from a pair of StayCharged cells.

Duracell Fast 1 Hour Charger

While the Easy Charger, coming with two 1700mAh AA rechargeable batteries is pretty standard fare (charging two AA or AAA batteries in 6-8 hours) the Fast 1 Hour Charger was more interesting. Again packaged with two 1700mAh AA and two 800mAh AAA rechargeable batteries, the Fast 1 Hour charger re-juiced up to four AA or AAA batteries in a little over an hour, with an LED indicator to let us know when they were ready. While 1 hour chargers are not that uncommon these days, Duracell's offering consistently refilled our batteries to maximum capacity whereas other chargers have half-heartedly only topped them up briefly. We'd have preferred if the charger had had an integrated power adaptor instead of having another unsightly plug lying around, but that's merely a matter of taste and didn't effect the efficiency of the charger.

All in, the Rechargeable Accu range are great accessories to any gadget enthusiasts catalogue of battery-munching devices. Not as pretty as Duracell would perhaps like to have you believe, nor as uniquely powerful, they do however get the job done, and get it done well.


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philips lightbulb.jpgGot a TV that's been acting a little erratically recently? Try checking any nearby energy-efficient lightbulbs, as some are reporting that they are causing their TVs to change channel and switch themselves off seemingly at random.

Take the case of Emma and Alistair Clements, who found their Virgin Media box to have a life of its own.

"At first we thought it was the children's sticky fingers on the remote control and that the buttons were sticking," Emma told Guardian Money. "But the novelty soon began to wear off. With the new box it was worse, if anything."

A sharp Virgin Media engineer suggested that a nearby Philips-branded energy-efficient lightbulb could be causing the problems, due to their flicker frequency interfering with infra-red remote control receivers. With the bulb unplugged, the problem was solved.

"Some very early compact fluorescent lamps, shortly after starting, could cause interference with TV controls due to the frequency of operation of the bulb and when placed near a TV," said a Philips spokesperson. "The frequency was quickly changed many years ago and we have had no recent reported incidents."

Philips are said to be investigating the light bulb in question. But with old-style traditional filament bulbs outlawed in the EU since 2008, the Clements family might want to stick with a laptop and iPlayer for uninterrupted TV viewing.

Via: Sky News

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nokia-logo.jpgNokia are looking to file a patent for a mechanism that would allow phone batteries to recharge themselves when out and about by collecting the kinetic energy generated by movement.

It'd work like this: the heavier components within a phone would be placed on a pair of symmetrical rails. As the phone moves in your pocket or hand, the components would slide up and down the rails, with piezoelectric crystals generating small electrical burst to be harvested by the battery.

Neat huh?

With portable gadgets becoming more central in our day-to-day lives, the fear of a depleting battery when away from a mains connection is an ever-more pertinent one. Well played Nokia then for making some interesting developments here.

Click here to read the details of the patent in full.

Via: Symbian Freak

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