One of the joys of the Kindle, as I’ve discovered anew while traveling in summery Argentina, is that it enables you–indeed, encourages you–to read in the brightest of sunlight. Now, with a new cover called SolarKindle, that benefit becomes a gift that keeps on giving.
You’ve probably already guessed what SolarKindle does, but I’ll tell you anyway. It’s simple enough: an elegant case with a large solar panel in the front that gathers up energy even while in shade. There are two ways you can use that energy: at night, you can turn on the 800 lux LED reading lamp inside the case, if the bedside lamp bothers your bedmate. During the day (or really anytime), the energy can also serve as reserve battery power for the Kindle itself.
Gizmodo says the device can so extend your reading time that you might not need to hit up the power outlet for as many as three months. If you use the pop-up reading lamp, though, you’ll deplete that store a lot more quickly: within 50 hours or so.
The catch? It ain’t cheap. The cover, which comes out January 15, runs $80. As one commenter on Gizmodo’s post cheekily points out, since $80 is more than the cheapest Kindle, you might arguably just buy a second Kindle an alternate which one you charge. It’s a funny argument, but an incomplete one, of course–the built-in LED light and the pleasure of charging using renewable energy are part of that $80 price tag.
Most importantly, though, SolarKindle reinforces that pleasurable feeling that the e-reader, alone in sea of glowing screens, was meant to be taken outside, just like a good book.