Enter the PowerTrip, from Ottawa-based Ecosol. In a package about the size of a deck of cards, the PowerTrip houses a battery that you can top up via the usual USB port or wall socket (the plug swivels out from the side), or using the solar panel that fills most of one side. Just sit it on a sunny windowsill.
Like its USB-powered sibling, the PowerStick, it comes with several connectors that will feed devices with micro- or mini-USB ports, and it will connect to Apple devices. A fully charged PowerTrip can deliver five full charges to your smartphone; a microprocessor prevents phone damage from overcharging. I tested it with a BlackBerry, followed by a Kobo e-reader, both of which the PowerTrip handled with aplomb, with plenty of power left over for other devices. A power meter on the side of the battery shows the state of the charge.
Read more about it and other solar charging solutions at the Globe and Mail.