Archive for: green

Review: NoiseHush SOLAR Visor N650 – Solar Bluetooth Hands-free Carkit

Many cities and states are enacting laws to restrict driving with your cell phone to your ear.  I am as guilty as the rest of you on this one.

One solution is to succumb to Bluetooth headsets.  Another is to fork over a grand when purchasing a vehicle for the Bluetooth connection option.  Here is where the NoiseHush N650 comes into play.  It is a run of the mill Bluetooth device, but it is equipped with a small solar panel on the back to continuously charge the battery when the sun is present.

As cool as it sounds, that solar cell slapped on the front isn’t worth $59 on its own. With that said, does the rest of the device perform well enough to stand out, and should the NoiseHush become part of your arsenal? Hop inside to find out…
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T-Mobile erects first completely self-sufficient, solar powered cell tower.

T-Mobile has been called a lot of things over the years. Though “Green” isn’t something that immediately comes to mind. But that’s exactly what you could say now that Team Magenta has deployed their first fully self sufficient, solar-powered cell site in Chalfont, Pennsylvania.

With 12 solar panels affixed to the station, power is harnessed directly from the sun…for free. Even more cool is that in times of low network usage, the tower can even give back pent up energy to the utility company who then in turn resells it to customers. Ideally, this is how the US electric grid should operate in the future. For now we’ll have to deal with this single cell site. Speaking of which, this earth-loving style costs upwards of 2x-3x more than your standard tower, so don’t expect uptake and adoption to be quick. Think of it more of a “proof of concept” for now. 20 years in the future, however, I wouldn’t mind seeing quite a few more of these around. You?
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Solar panels of the future to be sprayed on.

When people talk of vast solar farms in 2010, the common image that penetrates our minds is that of a massive piece of land housing thousands, if not tens of thousands of individual solar panels. It’s certainly a site to behold. Even much smaller scale farms look immense when a birds eye view is taken. But a new technology will drastically cut down how big a solar panel is and how it’s made. Not only that, it will change what solar panels are… (Hint: Spray on tan)…
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It’s official: Chevy Volt costs $41k before $7,500 tax credit. Pre-orders now open!

Fancy saving a tree or two and happen to title yourself a nerd? There’s no doubt that Chevy’s ambitions Volt project has been a long time coming. Since the truck market bombed out a few years back, they’ve been scrambling to catch up to other manufacturers more fuel efficient and alternative fuel-powered vehicles. And up until now, the biggest mystery about the Volt was the price. Price it to high no one will buy it. Lucky for consumers, it looks like Chevy will make it relatively affordable, at a now confirmed base price of $41,000. Interested parties may even get a stab at the electric wonder vehicle for a far cheaper price, however. At stake is a tax credit totaling up to $7,500 as well as leasing options. Speaking of the latter, the leasing program looks like it’ll hit a little closer to more individuals’ homes with a $350 monthly payment and $2,500 due at signing.

But what good is a hot new geek car with relatively new and untested reliability without decent warranties and protection from the factory? Oh dear reader, jump on in and find out…
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Chevy Volt to come with 8-year warranty on batter pack. Relieved?

People always look to flying cars as *the* sign that the future has arrived. While a flying car has recently been talked about as making its way into production (albeit in limited quantities), right now the general consensus is that battery-powered cars are where it’s at. The only issue so far has been runtime. Cars are very large and very thirsty machines. Most of our batteries simply don’t have the power or longevity to make solely battery powered cars practical or affordable. But things are projected to change with the introduction of the Chevy Volt.

Taking on the image of a sort of “Mechanical/Electrical Jesus”, the Chevy Volt has certainly enjoyed its fair share of media attention. But one very important aspect, replacing the spent battery pack after a few years of continuous charge/discharge cycles, hasn’t been highlighted quite as often as one may like. But the jury has finally come back and it’s looking pretty promising. How’s an 8-year warranty sound? That’s what GM is offering. Yeah, it’s not as long as non-battery vehicles. But it’s pretty much the king of warranties compared to other offerings from foreign manufacturers.

What’s the big deal you ask? Well, the most recent estimates have a full replacement of the Volt’s battery sitting heavy at $10,000 per pack. So warranty replacements are a pretty big deal if you ask me. Is it enough to sway you in the direction of electric vehicles?
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Super green super computer makes trees smile while getting it done, real fast.

All the talk around super computers usually involves talk of Megaflops and pure, blinding speed. Power consumption, while not as popular, also get’s a notable mention as such number crunching powerhouses suck down energy like there’s no tomorrow. But not Kei Hiraki’s Grape-DR “Green” supercomputer.

Located in the Department of Information Science at the University of Tokyo, the Grape-DR super-green-computer is comprised of (64) Intel Core i7 920 processors with 4 Grape-DR accelerator chips. The latter reportedly can achieve 200Megaflops all while sipping down a relatively meager 50 watts of energy. Overall, the Grape-DR can pump out a healthy 815.43 Megaflops.

In the name of happy trees, the Grape-DR is the fastest, “greenest” supercomputer around. But when stacked up against their nature-slaying, we don’t care about bambi brethren, they fall to the bottom of the pack — 500th out of 500. Still, the Grape-DR is a monumental achievement for sure.

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Save the planet one bike at a time: The USB Bike Generator


I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “Save the planet one *insert word here* at a time.” It’s a phrase commonly used by those who practice the way of life erring on the side of frugality, in order to preserve as much of this little blue marble that we have left. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Though often times, being gadget/electronic junkies that we are, energy savings and “earth friendly” things tend to get tossed by the wayside. But there’s a way to make everyone happy — The USB Bike Generator.

The design is simple: A small generator is mounted to a bike and powered by the bike’s wheel. With each tire revolution, a small bit of electricity is created. Hook up a couple of receptacles (in this case 2 USB ports) and you’ve got yourself a small mobile gadget charger. I can’t think of a more useful device to place on your bike. For those who live in big cities where bike travel is more preferred to sitting in traffic in a car, I can see this making a big splash.

The build is easier than you might think. Head on on over to Instructables and give it a read. Your very own USB Bike Generator is this close…
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The camera accessory for everyone: Solar Powered Camera Strap

Of all the accessories one could buy for a camera, a robust or spare battery is perhaps the most important. What good are all the other knick knacks if you can’t even take a simple picture? That’s why all photographers planning to be out and about shooting for days on end need one of these — a solar powered camera strap.

The only negative about the solar camera strap is the release date. Speaking of which, the solar powered camera strap is only a concept at this stage. So don’t hold your breath in regards to picking this up anytime soon. Though I’m sure someone out there in invention land has to have a working prototype with plans to manufacture. Anyone?

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Orange’s latest eco-friendly phone charger comes in a boot.

Have you hugged a tree today? If not, don’t fret. Simply pick up a pair of the Orange Power Wellies boots — a pair of boots that uses heat from every foot step to recharge your phone.

I often forget to bring my charging cable with me, resulting in a power depleted phone by midday. Though I doubt I’d ever forget my feet (unless someone else was using them of course). Precisely the phone accessory I could use. However, the reported 12-hour stomp session that only nets you an hour of charge time is kind of disappointing. But it’s a prototype so I’ll let it slide.
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Forget batteries: The Hand-Crank Eco Twinkle Light

Forget about worrying whether or not you’ve got enough batteries. They don’t last that long in “real” gadgets. And unless you buy strictly rechargeables, you’re going to be replacing batteries for the rest of your life. Not a good deal in the slightest. Toss ‘em out and pick up one of these nifty hand-crank lights designed by Australian designer Kenan Wang. Green. Simple. Cool.

Yay or nay?
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