Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Solar Powered Laptops

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.

Portables 120

smitty777 writes "Greentech is running a story on a solar powered laptop concept. The device was created by industrial designer Andrea Ponti, and includes a solar panel on the outside of the case as well as one below the keyboard. The idea seems to be taking shape; Samsung has a design they've been developing as well."

cancel ×

120 comments

But what happens to the laptop life? (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339220)

Seriously, solar cells get hot, and laptops themselves have enough trouble from getting hot, I'm curious as to how bad the hit is going to be in terms of device durability.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

TD-Linux (1295697) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339324)

They only get as hot as my black Thinkpad gets in the sun. I think laptops will live.
Durability will be interesting. Solar cells are extremely fragile. However, there are a number of strong encapsulants out there, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339340)

They sell solar powered calculators at the 99 cents store. That can be considered a solar powered laptop.

A laptop is little more than an overpowered calculator with some extra bells and whistles. Heck, even solar powered calculators have limited memory functions.

They can make a solar powered laptop. Sure, it's not going to be a quad core with lots of processing power and a fancy monitor, but they can make a solar powered laptop.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339358)

The 99 cent calculator is not turing complete. It cannot be considered a laptop.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339424)

The four bit microcontroller inside my bicycle computer is turing complete. The 99c calc may have the same device inside. Consider using e-paper for the laptop screen and an arm microprocessor. Solid state storage. Take a lot of care with power. Maybe don't use batteries at all because charge/discharge cycle costs power.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341686)

I'd be very surprised if that's the case. Intel's 4004 chip, the first CPU that they made, was intended for electronic calculators. These days, even cheap calculators are likely to have something at least as complex.

Actually, technically my laptop isn't Turing Complete, because emulating a Turing Machine requires infinite storage to emulate the tape, so in that sense you're correct.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342334)

The 4004 is NOT the first CPU "they" made. What do you think all the other computers used before 1971? A CPU... The 4004 might have been one of the first IC CPUs...

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339360)

Has anyone ever told you that you're a fucking moron?

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339404)

He is close enough. I wouldn't go so far as calling him a moron. They have to improve the energy efficiency (significantly) of the components as well as the cells though. We are after all talking about energy! If we can build a solar powered vehicle or aircraft however basic it may be certainly a laptop isn't impossible. It might start out with a mouse pad like connection piece and require you to be in the sun along with a screen similar to a ebook reader that is b/w and a very low power cpu + wifi with very little functionality capability why wise. Probably no sound for instance, optical drive, usb ports, etc.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340482)

He is close enough. I wouldn't go so far as calling him a moron. They have to improve the energy efficiency (significantly) of the components as well as the cells though. We are after all talking about energy! If we can build a solar powered vehicle or aircraft however basic it may be certainly a laptop isn't impossible. It might start out with a mouse pad like connection piece and require you to be in the sun along with a screen similar to a ebook reader that is b/w and a very low power cpu + wifi with very little functionality capability why wise. Probably no sound for instance, optical drive, usb ports, etc.

Ok, not a moron. His IQ may be higher than 60; however, as far as something you'd want to actually use to do anything more than a Kindle does when you are reading a book, I really don't think that would work. Especially not unless you live in an area that has cloudless skies every single day, and you can do all your work outside.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340854)

What makes you think that it would *only* be solar powered? Is a charging port really that difficult?

Some back-of-the-book calculations suggest that it's not out of the ballpark. A large laptop keyboard like on my 17"-er may give you 1m^2 of surface area. You can get over 40% efficient solar cells (although they're expensive), and thus get 40W in ideal conditions, or more down-to-earth-priced solar cells and get 20W. Subtract for key interference, hands over the keyboard, suboptimal angles, blah blah blah and you're looking at ~20W and ~10W, respectively.

Most of the energy used by a large laptop is to power the screen; in the sun, all the moreso. The Apple approach allows you to get your light for the screen at 100% efficiency using the very sun that makes you need a bright screen to begin with, via reflection when available (using a backlight when not). So you can take all but the CCD out of the picture on that one. The other alternative is e-Ink, although that has its own downsides. Without most of the screen's power consumption, a power-optimized laptop could easy run on under 10W average.

So yeah, I think it's quite plausiible. Easy? No. Will there be show-stopper engineering difficulties? There certainly could be. But some quick calculations suggest it's plausible.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341844)

What makes you think that it would *only* be solar powered? Is a charging port really that difficult?

Some back-of-the-book calculations suggest that it's not out of the ballpark. A large laptop keyboard like on my 17"-er may give you 1m^2 of surface area. You can get over 40% efficient solar cells (although they're expensive), and thus get 40W in ideal conditions, or more down-to-earth-priced solar cells and get 20W. Subtract for key interference, hands over the keyboard, suboptimal angles, blah blah blah and you're looking at ~20W and ~10W, respectively.

Most of the energy used by a large laptop is to power the screen; in the sun, all the moreso. The Apple approach allows you to get your light for the screen at 100% efficiency using the very sun that makes you need a bright screen to begin with, via reflection when available (using a backlight when not). So you can take all but the CCD out of the picture on that one. The other alternative is e-Ink, although that has its own downsides. Without most of the screen's power consumption, a power-optimized laptop could easy run on under 10W average.

So yeah, I think it's quite plausiible. Easy? No. Will there be show-stopper engineering difficulties? There certainly could be. But some quick calculations suggest it's plausible.

I really wish your engineering optimism would translate to the real world on this. But it just won't. Even Samsung can't make it work, and they have not only a huge R&D budget, but also the OWNER of the company pushing for it. Note also that Fujitsu, who is no engineering slouch, either, isn't pursuing this beyond the "Wouldn't this be cool" stage. Fujitsu has the ability to throw R&D resources at nearly any problem, electrical, mechanical, or physics-al. And if they have backed away from this game-changing concept, then there is a real reason.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342286)

Is it that it is technically impossible or just monetarily infeasible?

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339800)

Why not? solar cells on the quad core might not eliminate the need to charge the battery, but they'd certainly stretch the battery life between charges.

I wonder if case makers will respond by making a clear window in laptop bags so the laptop can charge when you're carrying it around.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340468)

They sell solar powered calculators at the 99 cents store. That can be considered a solar powered laptop.

A laptop is little more than an overpowered calculator with some extra bells and whistles. Heck, even solar powered calculators have limited memory functions.

They can make a solar powered laptop. Sure, it's not going to be a quad core with lots of processing power and a fancy monitor, but they can make a solar powered laptop.

That solar-powered calculator has a direct-drive (not multiplexed) LCD display, and a "CPU" that probably runs at 32KHz, if that.

Forget Turing; lets talk Miller, Watt and Ohm.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339434)

Seriously, solar cells get hot, and laptops themselves have enough trouble from getting hot, I'm curious as to how bad the hit is going to be in terms of device durability.

It comes with a cooling unit in a backpack. The backpack AC unit is also solar powered you just have to spread the included wings and keep your back to the sun.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339736)

Seriously, solar cells get hot, and laptops themselves have enough trouble from getting hot, I'm curious as to how bad the hit is going to be in terms of device durability.

It comes with a cooling unit in a backpack. The backpack AC unit is also solar powered you just have to spread the included wings and keep your back to the sun.

Hmm...now where have I heard that before... :-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Plus

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339818)

Really, I mean laptop manufacturers give advice like this [toshibalife.com] :

"Laptops generate a surprising amount of heat, and are engineered to extremely tight thermal tolerances. That means even the shortest period of prolonged heat can harm them. To best take care of your laptop keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heaters or radiators."

The heat is going to kill the battery. Not that it matters this is a "design concept" and has pretty much a zero chance of become a real product.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339956)

even the shortest period of prolonged heat

That sure sounds like a true manufacturer's warning, fully self-contradictory.

On a more serious note, have you never seen a solar powered fan? There's no need to have a fast, high powered solar laptop if the goal is just to have a solar laptop. A six inch by 10 inch solar array can generate about 7 watts, and that's more than enough for a carefully designed, if somewhat feeble, netbook.

Indeed... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341342)

There's no need to have a fast, high powered solar laptop if the goal is just to have a solar laptop.

And there's no need for a laptop that actually works when you can make one out of cardboard.

As for solar-powered laptops, there are elegant solutions out there already but they are pricey. [voltaicsystems.com]

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341872)

even the shortest period of prolonged heat

That sure sounds like a true manufacturer's warning, fully self-contradictory.

On a more serious note, have you never seen a solar powered fan? There's no need to have a fast, high powered solar laptop if the goal is just to have a solar laptop. A six inch by 10 inch solar array can generate about 7 watts, and that's more than enough for a carefully designed, if somewhat feeble, netbook.

Yeah, I had one of those solar-powered fans. Totally useless, even in direct, bright sunlight.

And that's 7 W at 10 degrees North, on a cloudless day, at Noon.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340868)

Depends on what type of battery you use. All batteries are not created equal. If you use the sort of battery on a ThinkBook X1, it should have excellent thermal tolerance. The "fast charge" chemistries generally don't mind heat much.

Re:But what happens to the laptop life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36341026)

Note that the warning comes from Toshiba, the company with the WORST laptop thermal designs of any other manufacturer. I've used a number of Toshiba laptops and I know several people who own them and they have all overheated to the point that they automatically shutdown at some point. Most of these are/were new laptops in excellent condition and dust-free. This is why I always steer far away from Toshiba laptops, or really anything made by them as I've also had really bad experience with other Toshiba made components failing for no reason.

HP is also another company that produces a lot overheating laptops. In my experience they aren't as bad as Toshiba, but I still would never buy or recommend HP to anyone though.

Most polluting laptop ever! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340186)

Beyond any battery life, this is a MASSIVELY ANTI-GREEN laptop. It is more "Green" to run your laptop from the most polluting coal powered station you can find, than to buy this laptop!

Solar panels take 8-10 years, in direct sunlight in most ideal locations available to simply produce the energy required to manufacture them in the first place (maybe a year less in a desert). A laptop solar panel will NEVER recoup the energy required to produce it, never mind the actual laptop components.

This is the most polluting and wasteful concept ever possible.

This is aside any other downside of direct sunlight + computer screen.... :S

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340198)

Yes, laptops should standardize on some sort of power connector, and they should sell detachable solar panels, that you can move to your new laptop when you upgrade after some years.

But, a solar-powered laptop will have a big advantage: you'll be able to charge it in places where you don't have access to electricity. This of course does not negate the points in the previous paragraph.

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341100)

Detachable with a decent length of cable, or a dock you can put your battery in to charge it...
I could leave a solar panel on the dashboard of my car all day, but i wouldn't leave a laptop there or its likely to be stolen. Anywhere you could leave a solar panel to charge is by definition out in the open, and would be an attractive target for thieves.

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36342510)

Sounds like a great idea!

The only problem is that laptop manufacturers employ an infinite diversity of batteries and infinite variations of power connectors.

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340394)

Solar panels take 8-10 years, in direct sunlight in most ideal locations available to simply produce the energy required to manufacture them in the first place (maybe a year less in a desert).

"Energy payback estimates for rooftop PV systems are 4, 3, 2, and 1 years: 4 years for systems using current multicrystalline-silicon PV modules, 3 years for current thin-film modules, 2 years for anticipated multicrystalline modules, and 1 year for anticipated thin-film modules (see Figure 1)." -- says the US Department of Energy [nrel.gov] . They cite references, too.

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340878)

And look at how out of date that document you linked is. It's notably less now. Some of the thin-film manufacturers are now talking 3-6 months.

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340910)

Those are costs, and likely subsidized ones.

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340912)

Blimey, 2004 -- I didn't even see that. I must have a trawl for some more recent studies when I get the time...

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (2)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340524)

The capital energy cost of manufacturing can always be produced by clean, abundant nuclear power.

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341104)

Only nuclear isn't very popular right now, so countries are actually shutting down nuclear plants rather than building more...

Re:Most polluting laptop ever! (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341878)

Beyond any battery life, this is a MASSIVELY ANTI-GREEN laptop. It is more "Green" to run your laptop from the most polluting coal powered station you can find, than to buy this laptop!

Solar panels take 8-10 years, in direct sunlight in most ideal locations available to simply produce the energy required to manufacture them in the first place (maybe a year less in a desert). A laptop solar panel will NEVER recoup the energy required to produce it, never mind the actual laptop components.

This is the most polluting and wasteful concept ever possible.

This is aside any other downside of direct sunlight + computer screen.... :S

Wish I had mod points left. You are EXACTLY correct.

WOW !! CAN IT BE ?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339222)

Hm, no.

What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339230)

I don't take my laptop outside and I live in a dark room, like any nerd.

can aruldy do this (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339250)

not to metion solar laptops have been done. all you need is like 150watt panel and a inverter. plenty to power a netbook add a battery and enough for the entire night as well.

mabye so (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339344)

but not solar power laptop has been made commercially available. I would luv one.

Re:mabye so (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339462)

buy a panel and inverter and wala you have one. i wouldent whant panel directly on the laptop anyways those cells get hot.

Re:maybe so (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339778)

voilà

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339442)

all you need is like 150watt panel and a inverter.

You gonna carry that around in your pocket?

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339472)

yes acully minus some panels could be stored in a backpack. like the rollup ones. you could easly make a setup easly mobile.

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339464)

Thank you. It makes some sense to park a laptop in the sun to top off the battery, but heavy charging should be done from cells on the roof of your home or automobile. Then take the laptop to the shade where it makes sense to use it. I am all for an epaper option for those times when you want to read text in the sunshine, but then a solar-powered tablet-ereader would seem more plausible to manufacture and use.

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339546)

yea iv seen lots of solar chargers for laptops. but for a realtime sloution your gonna need a straght panel and inverter with at least 150 watts. you could use the onbord laptop battery to hold a charge or more then 1 battery. but for a long term storage charge you would need a deep cycle.

Re:can aruldy do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340158)

Hang on - why do you need 150w PV plus an inverter? I'll assume you're making allowance for various charging and conversion losses - my laptop brick is rated at 19.5V x 3.42A - that's 66.69W.
 
So why go from 12VDC -> 240VAC ->19.5VDC - that's losses through 2 conversions (and small inverters are NOT very efficient, especially square wave/modified square wave types) - why not use a 24 volt panel, passed through a regulator to supply a steady 19.5 VDC? That would waste less energy than a DC-AC-DC conversion. It still needs about .5 to 1 sq m of panel, but perhaps higher-efficiency cells (as they become available) will reduce that space requirement.

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340416)

yes for solar its a good idea to take your wattage and dubble it. and yes as another replay said you can use straght dc with a charge controler.

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341382)

You want a solar tent.

Re:can aruldy do this (4, Informative)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339772)

Just silly. A 150W solar panel costs $530 and is a square meter in area: http://www.ecrater.com/p/5169726/sunflex-grade-a-150w-mono-solar# [ecrater.com] It's too big and too expensive even without the extra battery.

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340030)

If you shop around, you can find them quite a bit cheaper than that.

For example, look at sunelec.com

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341692)

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340428)

alot cheaper and alot smaller. it would be abought the size of your car roff for a good one. but as i said with my other post you could get a roll up type.

Re:can aruldy do this (2)

Restil (31903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340108)

Why do you need an inverter? The Laptop itself takes DC, the solar cell generates DC, at best you'd need a voltage regulator to output the laptop's dc input. You'd lose a lot more energy putting it through a double inversion process.

-Restil

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340456)

yes that works to. you can do direct dc for more effency using a controler. but the inverter will be handy for any other devices or even laptops of diffrent voltages. just giving the panel more usages rather then being dedcated to the laptop.

Re:can aruldy do this (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340462)

ill also note some inverters do in fact come with dc charge controlers as well so your not dubble converting.

Wait a minute (3, Funny)

cshark (673578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339270)

So does this mean that my porn habit has to be fed during the day, and out doors? Kinky...

Re:Wait a minute (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340666)

The radiation from the sun is an excellent disinfectant too. Not good news for basement dwellers. You'd need to go outside in a black suit with a broad brimmed hat and gloves also sunglasses and a ski mask. Also SPF10000 cream to guard against specular reflections - in bright sunlight even they are strong enough to make a basement dweller COMBUST. The humans will become suspicious.

Frankly I prefer to run my laptop from the small reactor I built in my basement - it's much safer.

E-Ink (3, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339316)

Why not put solar panels on E-ink based e-readers? You have Amazon et al. bragging about their battery life, but if you put a solar panel on the things you'd never need to charge them.

Re:E-Ink (1)

TD-Linux (1295697) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339334)

Probably because they add weight and thickness (the encapsulant especially - a cell itself is thin and light). That's probably a more competitive aspect than battery life.

Re:E-Ink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339454)

Well, and cost.

Re:E-Ink (2)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339636)

That's not true. There's a South Korean firm that released an e-ink e-reader with a solar panel and it's perfectly fine. Look at calculators with solar panels. Devices like the Kindle are battery sipping, not needing to be charged for weeks at a time. A simple, low-cost and low power solar panel could easily keep it charged at 100%.

Re:E-Ink (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339884)

I agree a few small strips could supply the Kindle's power needs, but I'd imagine it would be hard on the battery. Solar calculators usually run off solar only and don't have a battery in them. Constantly topping off the battery may actually cause memory issues or otherwise just shorten the life of the battery such that the minuses outweigh the pluses.

Wouldn't be hard to try, but given how aggressive everyone (but Sony) has been at pushing prices down, it may be enough of a cost issue.

It's too bad. Sony was out in front but didn't push the market. They didn't respond to the Kindle well, and they still have their readers priced way too high.

Re:E-Ink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36342044)

I agree a few small strips could supply the Kindle's power needs, but I'd imagine it would be hard on the battery.

Use a supercapacitor instead of batteries. It doesn't need to have more than a fifteen minute "battery life", if it's solar powered.

Re:E-Ink (2)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339526)

IMO it would be better to put the collectors on the case as an optional accessory, you could get full charge size cells or ones that just extend battery life, it also would make any future improvements in solar tech easy to integrate with existing devices

Re:E-Ink (2)

reasterling (1942300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340384)

This would be wonderful. When my battery gets low I can just pull out the case light on my kindle and keep reeding. ;)

Laptop usage and sun exposure don't really overlap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339386)

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have used my laptop in a sunny location.

Re:Laptop usage and sun exposure don't really over (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339408)

I would do it all the time if my screen weren't glossy, and used to when my screen was matte....

Re:Laptop usage and sun exposure don't really over (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339514)

Whats the deal with that, the matte finish used to be a selling point of LCD over CRT, but now theyre making LCDs glossy...

Re:Laptop usage and sun exposure don't really over (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339538)

people LIKE matte finishes better, people are ATTRACTED to shiny screens in the store, so they sell better.

put it down to humans are really not much better than our monkey ancestors

Re:Laptop usage and sun exposure don't really over (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341708)

My laptop screen is matte, and it's still pretty hard to see in direct sunlight. I'm looking forward to getting a machine with a Pixel Qi display in a few months - give me something that can run vim and be visible in direct sunlight, and I can work in the park...

Great (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339430)

So now I have to add "spend time outside in sun" to my calendar.

This will work! (2)

alienzed (732782) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339438)

Because Laptop screens are SO awesome in direct sunlight and everyone uses computers outside!

Bad idea (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339496)

Sun -> heat -> Dead batteries.

why charge it in the sun if you'll end up having 10 minutes autonomy after 1 month?

Re:Bad idea (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339712)

yeah because we all have to use our solar powered calculators outside...

Re:Bad idea (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339760)

Are you comparing the kind of power required by a laptop with a calculator?

And you missed the point. 99% of batteries used in laptops/phones are extremely sensitive to heat. sun = heat, so I doubt that battery will keep it's power for long.

Re:Bad idea (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339812)

1. A laptop doesn't have to be used all the time, so when you leave it on the couch while you're doing something else it can partially recharge.
2. Battery doesn't have to be next to panel.
3. Panel on a calculator doesn't get hot. I'm guessing they aren't going for the most efficient panels.
4. I don't think laptop display work that well in direct sun either, so it probably isn't designed to be in the sun.
5. Solar panel probably is a bad term. Light panel? Photon panel? IDK.

Re:Bad idea (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341472)

Ok, are you trolling me or being serious?

Anything left out in the sun (in this case, to recharge), can easily reach 60. Even if they are not next to the panel, they will get hot, eventually.

Lithium-ion batteries are extremely sensitive to heat. That's a well known fact...

The only way I can see a "solar powered laptop" is if the solar panel can be detached from the laptop and recharges it using a wire of some kind, to avoid solar exposure of the machine.

Free power! Too many arguments. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339502)

Coal and oil lobbyist, plus Sarah Palin will never let this happen. Imagine all our T2000's running on solar power, we would have to scorch the sun to stop them. I don't want to end up a battery myself. Neo, save us! Why not just put solar panels on my roof, screw my laptop and power my refrigerator which is ultimately more useful to my survival.

Ooohhh, looks good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339658)

It looks rather nice. I want one. A bit off topic, but it sort of reminds me of the PowerBook 1400 solar cell snap on book cover [ning.com] . The top portion of the case could be removed and replaced with a cover of your liking (I think Dell currently does this as well) - someone rather clever came up with a solar cell that you could snap on and it wouldn't be "extra hardware".

This is why working for other people is fun/sucks (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339820)

Samsung has been pursuing solar power for more than two years, at the insistence of the company's owner Lee Kun-hee. Despite failing to find a marketable application for the technology so far, Samsung is hopeful the solar-powered netbook could give it an edge in the emerging African market.

this is a case where we need to keep certain manufacturing jobs overseas and far away from the U.S.

Re:This is why working for other people is fun/suc (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340352)

I have a friend from Carnegie Mellion University working for a Chinese upstart solar company

Whatever you have to say against China, their low wages mean they might be able to crack the cost/efficiency ratio if they make it cost really cheap.

And all sorts of good things happen when you do this... Anyone with any visionary blood in them knows what this means. Solar panels everywhere, energy on the cheap. Transportation doesn't cost gas money... Water and food is cheaper... etc etc...

You don't got to agree with me here, but an environmentalist says to conserve energy, but maybe if you cause more demand we can move into an era where we have energy surplus sooner.

brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339916)

doesn't it seem like this is way overdue ? brilliant idea.

15 years ago... (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339966)

This is a concept? This has been around since 1996. Apple's PowerBook 1400 had a removable cover on the lid and a company called Keep It Simple Systems made a solar panel for it.

You can see how successful it was because they're ubiquitous now.

Backlight (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339998)

Since this solar laptop is for use in sunlight, there's no need for a powered backlight for the LCD display. Use the sun, that's what it's there for.

Providing some shade for the viewing side of the display would help contrast.

Heck, use a reflective LCD screen. No need for silly backlighting arrangements.

Laptop != Calculator (3, Interesting)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340132)

All these comments comparing calculators to laptops...

- Have you ever felt a calculator or MP3 player get hot? Ever come across one that gets so hot that it needs a fan?

- Have you ever felt a laptop get hot? Ever come across a laptop that doesn't need a fan?

- Calculators use so little energy that a small strip indoors is enough to power it. Laptops are still not solar powered because the amount of energy required has so far been too much for solar cells to produce.

My point is that, in terms of heat, laptops and calculators are very different.

Have you ever used a laptop in the sun? I have, when sitting next to a window where the sun shines in. I soon move because the laptop gets uncomfortably hot. I don't know how bad that heat is for my laptop, but it's considerable, and I think it might be too much for the little fan, so I'm not about to test it.

Summary: In terms of energy use and heat... Laptop != Calculator

Re:Laptop != Calculator (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340332)

All these comments comparing calculators to laptops...

Or on the flip side, all these comments immediately assuming it's like one of those giant desktop-replacement beasts.
I can't answer for the others, but when I saw the headline, I immediately thought of netbook-class processors, or smartphone class. No moving parts. Charge it either in the sun or with a cord. Run in non-backlit mode when in the sun, a modest sized screen won't draw so much power, and an ARM system-on-a-chip only pulls one watt at full blast.

Re:Laptop != Calculator (1)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341360)

Yep. First sensible post in this thread. This is what I had imagined. I would want something that I could take on holiday, and read e-mail where there is a connection, some simple word processing and data visualization, not viewing videos or gaming. You could keep a diary when hiking, and stuff like that.

If you have a solid-state hard disk, and don't have a display backlight, or a DVD drive, and the USB ports only supported very tiny current draws such as thumb drives, you can omit the battery and rely on energy in balancing the energy out. You might have some capacitative storage to allow the computer to work for a few seconds if the lights suddenly went out, but that would be it.

The solar panels they are using are transparent, so they can cover the whole display and keypad area. However, artificial lighting is becoming more efficient, which means emitting less IR, so you might find it doesn't work on a plane. But planes should have 12v USB power supplies anyhow.

I have actually used a laptop with solar backlighting. I had one of the IBM Thinkpads, which had the option to detach the backlight so it could be used on an overhead projector. The sun used to shine onto my desk, so I could take off the backlight and slip in a piece of paper, or (better) a square cut from a shower curtain. This all looks Heath Robinson-ish, so I suspect they would probably be better off using some reflective e-ink display.

Niiice.

Re:Laptop != Calculator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340898)

"Have you ever felt a laptop get hot?"

Warm yes, hot no. I've never worked with a desktop replacement laptop.

"Ever come across a laptop that doesn't need a fan?"

Yes.

Light Powered Laptop (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36340148)

Now all the morons on slashdot will collectively go after their weird logic on sunlight, heat and other tangents. Granted sunlight is the most efficient way to charge, however indoor lighting however inefficient can still change. So it's a good thing to have. I guess all the morons who posted about solar porn watching sit around in the dark watching porn all day.

Backlight (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340334)

Considering how well most laptops work in the sunlight, does this mean that you can either power it or see what's on the screen?

Will Not Work (2)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340448)

About 1992, a coworker and I seriously looked into doing a solar-powered laptop charger. The idea was going to be something that would either attach to the back of the lid, and/or detach and sit someplace convenient. Yes, I know there are solar trickle-chargers for things like boat batteries; but that's not the point.

When you start looking into this, you will soon find out that PV cells suck so incredibly hard that, unless you live someplace like Arizona, that the rated output of a typical PV cell, which is almost always rated at "1 standard sun" (I kid you not! It's a real unit-of-measure), is so far below that number, that you end up having to have something that folds-out like the solar-cell arrays on Skylab.

Yes, PV cells have gotten a little better since 1990, and there are some mobile CPUs that are better on current consumption than what was available at that time, too; but not enough to matter in either case; because so many people live in areas where their average sun exposure is closer to 0.5 Standard Sun, and they will never even get close to 1 Standard Sun's worth of solar energy.

It's a great idea; but it needs a real breakthrough to make it practical.

Re:Will Not Work (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341238)

Yes, PV cells have gotten a little better since 1990, and there are some mobile CPUs that are better on current consumption than what was available at that time, too

Ya think? Its a good thing you looked into this 20 years ago. You may have just saved this company from wasting their time.

Re:Will Not Work (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341774)

Yes, PV cells have gotten a little better since 1990, and there are some mobile CPUs that are better on current consumption than what was available at that time, too

Ya think? Its a good thing you looked into this 20 years ago. You may have just saved this company from wasting their time.

Except that the Engineers at the well-heeled R&D department at Samsung [coolerplanet.com] don't seem to be having much luck right now, either; even with the Owner of the company pushing hard for it. Also note that Fujitsu has no plans to market this world-changing technology. Wonder why?

It's one of those things that looks quite do-able, until you actually try to make it work in the real world. What one of my former bosses used to refer to as a "Lab Queen".

cranky laptops (1)

gary_7vn (1193821) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340528)

A laptop with a crank makes more sense. Cheaper. More reliable. Maybe add a bit of solar just to top things off on a sunny day.

Bad idea (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340724)

This reminds me of the famous Chinese initiative (in Mao's times) when they made iron in every backyard [wikipedia.org] , in small kilns. The process was very inefficient and produced metal of poor quality, nearly useless.

We don't run our own electric generators in our homes (except in emergencies.) We instead buy electric energy that is produced elsewhere. We don't want to order coal or gas, we don't want to subject our homes to endless inspections, and we don't want to invest into boilers and turbines and generators.

But this initiative does exactly that - it tries to deploy millions of tiny and inefficient solar panels into places where they are at most risk of damage, and at least value in terms of the sunlight. Whatever you say, laptops spend most of their life either on desks or in backpacks. Unless you are a student who works outdoors (because it's impossible to work in your room due to some scheduled orgy) you virtually never take the laptop outside. It's insecure; it's inconvenient; it may be raining; a bird may decide to land on it, with the obvious end result; there are millions of reasons why laptops typically stay indoors.

If you want to build a solar power plant then do so, using the most appropriate components and placing the solar panels where they do the most good. It involves careful selection of the site and the proper orientation of panels.

But perhaps a few starry-eyed Gaia worshippers with too much money will buy a couple of laptops with solar panels built in. The rest of Gaia worshippers should instead invest in proper solar plants that use the energy grid of the whole country as their "battery." These fixed plants will be more efficient, and they can deliver power to everyone, not just to people who bought these laptops. I have a 6 kW setup that feeds unused power back into the grid.

Re:Bad idea (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341018)

Whatever you say, laptops spend most of their life either on desks or in backpacks. Unless you are a student who works outdoors (because it's impossible to work in your room due to some scheduled orgy) you virtually never take the laptop outside. It's insecure; it's inconvenient; it may be raining; a bird may decide to land on it, with the obvious end result; there are millions of reasons why laptops typically stay indoors.

So don't buy it. Nobody said this has to be useful to the majority of the population. A small number of people actually has to work in the sun, regardless of such inconveniences, and can't plug it in when they want.

Good luck (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340846)

Extra heavy.
Only useful in the situations where you least need a laptop.
More fragile.

Why not just create a bloody bike-laptop which you have to cycle on to use.

Would be about as practical.

Re:Good luck (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341046)

A bike-laptop reminds me of this [hackaday.com] , so awesome. And he did cycle while using it, although it was to power a different thing than the computer ;)

I'm skeptical (1)

Teknikal69 (1769274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340884)

Interesting I was considering buying a solargorilla a few months ago but I found it to hard to believe you could actually power something like a laptop straight from the sun. I find it less likely that panels on a laptop itself could be enough to power it maybe trickle charge it when it's off but even then I'm thinking it would take way to long to be of any real world use.

I may of course be completely wrong and maybe it is in fact possible in countries that have a lot of sun I've a feeling I'd be wasting my money in the UK. I still like the idea of having a self sufficient power source I just don't think the technology is there yet.

Potential breakthrough capability, if it works (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341612)

I bought a Samsung NB30 to try out Pixel Qi's daylight-readable screen, and have been very impressed with Samsung's engineering. Since the display enables me to carry the NB30 everywhere, it's taking quite a beating. Fortunately, it has a waterproof membrane undr the keyboard, a feature I've accidentally tested with many spills. The drive automatically parks, so the several times I've dropped it has not done more than break small pieces off of the case. This is one tough little PC.

Right now, my biggest limitation is being tethered to a power outlet. If Samsung can deliver truly mobile, continously replenished power, that would be a breakthrough technology everywhere, not just in Africa.

Not exactly a new idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36341946)

My Powerbook 1400c had one back in 1998. The panel slid off the laptop and could be mounted on the window of a plane with it's nifty suction cups.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...