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Solar Gadgets for Summer

Honeywell Wireless Outdoor Solar Speaker

It’s a real pain to wire speakers to an outdoor location for a party or just to watch TV in style, but Honeywell has a better idea. The company’s Wireless Outdoor Solar Speaker is a self-contained set of speakers that can play music from just about any source short of a player piano.

Powered by the sun with its 5- by 5.5-inch solar array on the top of the unit, the solar speaker is a cylinder that has a diameter of 9-inches. At 15-inches tall, the top is perfect for holding a beer, but that can cover the solar cells. Unfortunately, the solar cells can’t be aimed so the solar speaker works best right around noon.

It has a powerful amplifier and a battery inside. If the sun doesn’t shine bright enough, the unit comes with an AC adapter for a quickie charge. It comes with a small, rounded docking station for an iPod that wirelessly links to the speakers, which has its own AC adapter. In case there’s interference, you can choose among three different settings on both the dock and speaker.

The unit comes with adapters for a variety of i-devices as well as the cables you’ll need to connect it with a headphone or pair of RCA jacks. I used it with an iPod, an Internet radio, satellite radio and a CD player.

It’s light enough to just pick up and move from room to room. I really like the finger grips under the solar panel for quick grab and go maneuvers. Unlike the Soji Kenzo lantern, however, it doesn’t risk being blown away.

The tiny remote control lets you change the source material, raise or lower the volume, mute it when the phone rings and change tracks on your iPod. A bonus is the bass extension circuitry, which gives the sound extra range, but the remote only works with the dock, not the speaker itself.

Everything is white with red lettering and the speaker’s LED casts a glow at night, making it look like a space ship that’s just landed. It’s something you’ll either love or hate.