I've always been fascinated by solar powered and self-charging devices. While I haven't seen many examples of the former tech, the latter is all abundant in kinetic watches that power themselves up. Arctic Cooling is renowned for their CPU and graphics card coolers, not to mention their thermal pastes, the recent MX-4 which I use on all of our CPUs. So the entire Tbreak office was surprised to see the small solar powered mobile charger with the Arctic Cooling badge on it. This was definitely going to be interesting.
The Arctic C1 Mobile is diminutive in stature, measuring a mere 110x43x12 mm and weighing 110 grams. The entire front side is taken over by the solar panel, with three LED indicators at the bottom. At the top there's a handle of sorts, effective for tying it up with a small rope or string while camping out. The bottom houses the mini-USB (input) and regular USB (output) ports. Encased in the 12mm thick body is the 4440 mWh rechargeable Li-Ion battery.
The Arctic C1 Mobile can be charged via solar energy, which takes roughly 6 hours, while plugging in a mini-USB cable from your PC or any other plug that has a USB out. This form of charging the Arctic C1 can take anywhere between 1 to 3 hours depending on the output current from your motherboard's USB port.
The three LED's at the bottom are very important to read. From left to right, the LED's are indicated as A, B and C. While charging through the mini-USB port, LED A (left) light up. On solar charge, LED C (right) lights up. When charging a device via the Arctic C1, all three LEDs should light up, indicating a 70% to 100% charge. Two LEDs indicate a 30% to 70% charge while a single LED indicates under 30% charge left.
To really test the Arctic C1 Mobile I used it the way it was meant to be used. On a camping trip out in the desert this weekend, I strapped the Arctic C1 on the driver's side sun visor, letting it soak in all the energy it needed like Superman. Come night time, my iPhone 4's battery was at roughly 12% after multiple calls, streaming music over 3G and playing a little bit of Infinity Blade. So I plug in the iPhone 4's charge cable into the Arctic C1 which drains the C1 and charges the iPhone 4 up to 86% in under an hour. As it was charging, I made a 12 minute Skype call to my sister in Canada. Yes, I was getting 3G in (sort of) the middle of the desert, so why not?!
Once I came back from the trip I decided to charge the Arctic C1 Mobile through my PC, which took just over an hour through my Gigabyte X58A-UD3R thanks to a much touted feature on Gigabyte's recent motherboards which provide extra voltage to charge devices through USB. Anyways, once again I let my iPhone 4's battery go down to 11%, hooked it up to the Arctic C1 and let it charge until all three LEDs extinguished. At this point the iPhone 4 was up to 91% charge as I didn't use it during the charge process.
The Arctic C1 definitely proved its worth on my camping trip, providing sufficient charge for my iPhone 4. Likewise the Arctic C1 is capable of charging any mobile device that allows for charge via USB, which basically covers all Android phones and iPhones & iPods. Unfortunately I didn't have a DS, PSP or iPad on hand to really stress test the Arctic C1, but as far as mobile phones are concerned, the Arctic C1 has it well covered. Yes, there are a handful of adapters provided as well for those still on Nokia, Sony Ericsson or Motorola phones. At $25, the Arctic C1 Mobile is a worthwhile expense if you're planning on having a trip outdoors, or just to have a spare 4440mWh lithium-ion rechargeable battery.