i.Tech SolarVoice 908 Review
i.Tech SolarVoice 908 makes for an illustrative example. This is a likeable Bluetooth handsfree that you can charge by just leaving it to bask in the sun. According to the manufacturer, the gadget should be able to remain operational in stand-by indefinitely, at least in theory, provided the sun keeps shining as ever. Hm, what happens if you get called then?
What’s inside the box?
• The i.Tech SolarVoice 908 Bluetooth hands-free
• 4 rubber tips (size S, M, L and XL)
• Transparent, plastic ear-hook
• USB cable
• Wall charger
• User Guide
It’s interesting to note that while the handsets equipped with solar panels that what we have reviewed this far are relatively hefty, the overall weight of the SolarVoice 908 (13 gr) is pretty normal for its size. On the overall, however, it cannot be referred to as a light-weighted device.
We do like the overall design of the i.Tech SolarVoice 908, because it appears to be a proper blend of classical and contemporary appeal. In combination with the silver framing, the black color of the earphone does manage to conceal the solar panel on the front side and if you’re worried you will get strange looks from passers-by, don’t be. The LED that indicates the i.Tech SolarVoice 908 is being charged by the sun is placed on one of the sides of the gadget and blinks in a discreet manner, without making itself conspicuous. The buttons (multifunctional key and a volume rocker) are also pretty unobtrusive and although they are only slightly raised, they have proper travel and are clearly felt when pressed.
Never let the outward appearance of a gadget mislead you, because no matter how appealing a handsfree may look like, you better leave it out if it doesn’t feel comfortable to wear. The i.Tech SolarVoice 908 is a mixed bag with this respect. It is pretty comfortable as a standalone accessory. Unfortunately, the otherwise spectacular ear hook feels rather displeasing to wear, especially for people with larger than tiny ears.
What’s even worse, the i.Tech SolarVoice 908 is not comfortable for prolonged periods of time. We can barely stand it for more than an hour and the major reason is none other, but the discomforting feeling of a foreign body inside the ear.
Performance and Conclusion:
A Bluetooth handsfree with solar panel – sounds both quite weird and pretty cool at the same time, doesn’t it? So, what does such an extra feature offer after all? According to the manufacturer, the i.Tech SolarVoice 908 should be able to remain alive and kicking indefinitely… provided the Sun never goes down. Naturally, this is not possible. Let’s be realistic about it, solar panels are awesome and modern, but make people dependable on the Sun and you won’t be able to charge the gadget in the absence of enough light, unless you resort to the wall charger. We are disappointed at the lack of a car charger that should have been part of the accessory pack – the stand is actually only used as a panel that you can put the device on while charging it in the sunlight.
The battery of the i.Tech SolarVoice 908 provides 5 hours of continuous talk time and keeps the gadget operational for 140 hours in stand-by. Actually, this is pretty decent performance, so you shouldn’t worry the gadget will leave you high and dry even on cloudy days. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t provide any insight on how long you need to leave the i.Tech SolarVoice 908 in the Sun to get a minute worth of battery charge. Since said timing is virtually the most interesting and important aspect of the gadget, we enquired about it with i.Tech, but haven’t received a reply yet. Of course, we will update the review when we get the information.
We are largely unimpressed by the in-call quality. Not that the sound quality is bad or anything, it’s just people on the other end will be unable to catch onto what you’re saying whenever you happen to be in a noisy environment or, say, the weather is windy. Other than that, the call quality is great indoors or in quiet places, even if everything sounds a tad sharper than we would have liked.
Although we do find the concept of the i.Tech SolarVoice 908 appealing, because the device can actually utilize the so-called “green energy”, we cannot say we like the particular implementation. Despite its enjoyable design, the gadget is uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. Moreover, it’s virtually useless for calls in noisy conditions. That is why we just cannot recommend it, unless you happen to be an eager eco fan. There are better handsfrees in the same price range and although they are not equipped with solar panels, they will be of better use to you. Finally, most of them are more light-weighted and comfortable to wear, say the Jabra BT530 and Sony Ericsson VH310.