WeWi’s $300-ish SOL Laptop is powered by the sun, Ubuntu, and Intel Atom

Tired of lugging around a charger for your laptop? Canadian company WeWi telecommunications is promising to deliver a laptop with its own built-in power source: a series of solar panels that fold you can unfold to recharge the battery or directly power the computer.

The SOL Laptop is a rugged laptop designed for use in developing nations, and the company behind it is making some bold promises for price and performance.

SOL Laptop

According to WeWi the SOL Laptop will get 8 to 10 hours of battery life, and under ideal conditions you’ll be able to recharge the battery in about 2 hours using nothing but solar panels. It’s expected to launch in Ghana for around $300, but US pricing is pegged at closer to $350.

The laptop is said to have a 13.3 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display, up to 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and a 1.86 GHz Intel Atom D2500 dual-core processor with GMA 3600 graphics. It runs Ubuntu Linux.

That’s an interesting processor choice. On the one hand, Intel’s Atom chips are low-power processors that could help support the long battery life claims. On the other hand, this is one of Intel’s most power-hungry Atom chips, with a TDP of 10W. A newer Clover Trail chip might have been a better choice — but going with an older chip probably helps keep the price down.

sol laptop_02

WeWi says the notebook has stereo speakers, 3 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, an SD card reader, 10/100 Ethernet, GPS, dual-channel 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 3G/4G modem.

While the basic specs sound about right for a $300 laptop, it’s hard to imagine a model with up to 10 hours of battery life and built-in 4G LTE shipping for that price — and that’s even before you add the solar panels.

It’ll be interesting to see if the SOL Laptop ever actually sees the light of day. Yes, pun intended.

via OMG Ubuntu

  • The_Cageybee

    WeWi – Are they taking the piss?

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      It took great self restraint on my part not to use that joke in this article. :)

      • David Gosnell

        Perhaps someone ought to let them know what SOL stands for in acronym-land? Or will that just be the response to anyone wishfully thinking enough to reckon they can get one?

  • www

    this green thing is out of hand,this is just flat silly.,..

  • Arrdee

    I just checked. Nope, it isn’t April 1st or anything. Not even Rube Goldberg’s birthday.

  • Greg Yohn

    Solar panels are rarely used in the sun attached to devices or else the user gets hot and also can not see the screen!

  • me

    GMA 3600 and Linux? Why? Maybe that’ll fly in Ghana but SOL seems to be planning on selling this in the US as well. Anyone who’s buying this because it’s running Linux will likely know that the the graphics isn’t going to work well.

    Also, driver support for Windows isn’t that great either.

    • CyberGusa

      It’s possible they could have gotten the drivers to work… Intel did it for Meego and will likely do it for Tizen for example.
      But at best it would only be for the version of Ubuntu that comes with the system.

      So, I’d otherwise agree with you… though some people just need the OS to work and don’t necessarily need the graphics to work well beyond what generic driver support covers.

      It’s definitely a niche product though and won’t appeal to mainstream…

  • 1stkorean

    from the looks of this thing I would rather lug around a charger and then it runs ubuntu…No Thanks!

    • Cal Rankin

      Ubuntu is one of the best operating systems out there, especially because, unlike Windows or OS X, is FREE! If this came with Windows 7 or 8, it would cost probably closer to, if not over, the $499 price range. If Apple made a rugged, solar-powered Macbook Air or Macbook Pro 13″, it would cost over $1000.
      Besides, this is made to be rugged, not have killer styling.

  • nicole_scooter

    That’s amazing! I need to have a video of that! lol <3

  • iAMunderDOg

    I can’t believe that some companies choose Intel’s Atom over Temash…

    A4-1200 is much much better, if they want to use Intel then they should have waited for Bay Trail that is coming out next month.

    • CyberGusa

      Often times these type of products are made by companies that push out products for the lowest possible costs to themselves… Which means they look for off the self parts that are usually over a year old and they can get for much less than original pricing.

      Just like Vizio releasing a tablet now with AMD Hondo Z-60 instead of Temash for example… The latest and greatest isn’t always what’s easiest for a company to produce a product from… and companies tend not to push too hard for products intended for traditionally niche markets, especially if they’re a small company to begin with…

      While, even with the latest and best, I’d be wary of any product claiming it can suffice on Solar power… besides, the 4 panels probably add quite a bit of weight to this and it’s a 13.3″ laptop to boot…

      • iAMunderDOg

        I expected that… I am kinda suprised it sells for just 300-350$ with 4 solar panels. What is the pricing of one solar panel?

      • CyberGusa

        It’s the main reason to be suspicious… Solar panels tend to be very expensive, even small charging kits can cost easily over $100 and not provide the charging power claimed for these, and even in large quantities would still have pretty hefty unit costs, thus one of the reasons why Brad was skeptical of this product ever coming out.

        So there’s basically three possibilities…

        1) They got a unusually very good deal on the panels… Solar energy companies come and go all the time and any one of them could have given a fire sale stock liquidation. Though, that would mean this would be a limited run product with limited stock of panels.

        2) Depending on where it’s made or contract deal they may have acquired, they could have gotten government subsidy and/or tax credit to help fund the use of green energy technology.

        The second option also means they could make enough money from the government for the company to profit even if the product never sells well… The laptop may just be slapped on to justify the subsidy at minimum costs.

        I also suspect the later because the company site makes it a point to indicate the environmental friendliness…

        “During its lifetime, SOL is expected to clear about 1 ton of CO2 emision, by not plugging in to the power grid.”

        3) These could be extremely cheap solar panels, but that likely means they’re very fragile and unlikely to last long if used outdoors a lot, or necessarily even provide enough power to charge the laptop except under the most ideal conditions.

      • Anton Gl

        There a lot of solar panels about 100 dollars for 100 W. If you know a right places where to buy, you can get 100W panel only for $50-70.
        Of course, those panels will be from China (brand, Exmork for example) and of course it will be polycristall (a little bit less effective than monocrystal panels).

      • CyberGusa

        $50-70 is more than a good chunk of the price of this system and that’s not factoring the fact this system clearly is using four panels… they wouldn’t be making much of any profit unless unless one of the above possibilities I listed was true…

  • Cal Rankin

    Let’s see… with those pretty decent specs, plus Ubuntu pre-installed, a cellular modem, an 8 to 10 hour battery life, plus being ruggedized and able to recharge in 2 hours with the built-in solar panels.
    If the pricing is $350, I’ll be buying it along with a new Nexus 7. Then I can save a few bucks from the cellular Nexus 7.

  • Anton Gl

    I can imagine, how it was interesting loading Ubuntu (X11) on this Intel Atom-powered device.

    I would prefer 847 Celeron instead, 17W TDP, but fact is around 10-12 TDP and more powerhourse than Intel Atom.