CES 2012: Eton Rukus Solar Sound System

Sometimes the “Put a bird on it” bit from Portlandia – wherein affixing a bird to any mundane object immediately transforms it into something crafty and cool – comes to mind with consumer products and the seemingly insatiable desire of manufacturers to squeeze a solar panel onto devices. Sometimes it’s a great idea, sometimes it seems a bit forced.

This comes to mind with the Rukus Solar portable sound system, introduced by Eton at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Rukus combines speakers, Bluetooth technology and, yes, a solar panel to create a modestly sized boombox-wannabe capable of delivering unplugged tunes to you while you sun on the back deck. Actually, that sounds like it might be kind of cool.

Rukus Solar music player

image via Eton

“Rukus is truly the only Bluetooth sound system you may never have to plug in,” exulted Esmail Hozour, CEO of Eton, in a statement. “With its unique design and portability, the sound system is the perfect addition to any indoor or outdoor area – causing a ruckus wherever it goes.”

Since the solar panel implies rather strongly that it will be used in the sun, Eton took the extra step of giving Ruckus an E Ink SURF display – SURF is “segmented, ultra-thin, rugged and flexible,” by the way – “to provide instant, at-a-glance information, including Bluetooth connectivity, solar charge indicator and battery strength.”

Eton Solar Rukus music player

image via Eton

The Rukus spec sheet [PDF] doesn’t provide the dimensions, but from the images provided by Eton it looks like Rukus is about the size of a lunchbox – and it looks like you can carry it like one, too, with that nifty handle. It has a built-in, rechargeable 7.4V 1500mA Li-ion battery, and when the sun goes behind a cloud for a while, or if you want to use it indoors, it can be plugged in.

“Featuring the ability to stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device, Rukus offers great flexibility to play and charge most mobile devices all day long,” Eton says.”It has two full-range speaker drivers, delivering booming lows and crystal-clear highs. The embedded 40 square-inch solar panel harvests the sun’s energy and takes about six hours in direct sunlight to recharge the internal lithium battery.”

Eton said the Rukus Solar will be available in the second quarter this year for $149.95.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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