Imagine you’re at the beach, lounging on a blanket in the bright sunshine. The only thing that would make this moment better are some cranked up tunes, but that’s not so easy this far from an outlet. Do you a) drag along a hundred pound radio full of massive D batteries? b) start a singalong? or c) crank up your smartphone as high as it will go, draining the battery in about 10 minutes? The answer is d) none of the above.
For the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out the Etón Rukus Solar, a portable Bluetooth sound system powered by the sun. With a simple design and surprisingly high quality sound, this gadget will be raising a rukus wherever we go this summer.
Bearing a slight resemblance to portable radios of the past, the Rukus features two cylindrical speakers on the side with power buttons and other controls in the middle, and a built-in handle for carrying. Unlike your boombox from the 80′s, however, it sports a big solar panel where the tape deck used to be. The entire device looks and feels sturdy (including the buttons) so you won’t feel worried bringing it outside with you.
We started using the Rukus straight out of the box, so it presumably comes with a slight charge. Using it is almost self-explanatory, although there is a quick start guide included. Simply power on and place in a window. Then enable your favorite music streaming app and power on your phone’s bluetooth. Hold down the Rukus’ bluetooth button and two devices sync up in a matter of seconds. Before you know it, you’re rocking out to solar-powered tunes.
At this point, I already thought the Rukus was pretty darn cool, and then we discovered the best bit–you can plug your phone into the device’s USB port while it’s in use. Assuming the Rukus starts with a decent charge and is placed in direct sunlight, this means you can enjoy unlimited music without draining your phone’s batter. It’s a closed loop sound system!
The only drawback to the Rukus is charge time. Etón claims that the solar panel can recharge the device in 6 hours, but good luck finding six hours of powerful, direct sunlight. However, this disadvantage is quickly overcome using the USB charging port and wall adapter. Use AC electricity to charge it up, then take it outside and let the sun keep it powered throughout the day.
Available in three colors. MSRP $150, but you can find it online for less.