Want to take your iPod off the grid? Read the promises of solar-charging devices, and you’ll be led to believe that solar powering your favorite playlist is a piece of cake. However, I’ve discovered the hard way that not all personal solar chargers are created equal.

What I tried was the Solio H100 (right,) the hybrid solar charger. Unfortunately, the sleek and techy-looking product also proved to be highly temperamental.

Despite the fact that I live in sunny Southern California, I could never get this charger fully juiced up. I always put my Solio on a sunny windowsill but could never get it charged above 60 percent even on a sunny day. This meant I could only partially charge up my iPod (read: less than halfway) — and as most iPodders know, only charging part way tends to compromise the iPod battery’s longetivity.

The other problem I ran into is that my iPod was the ONLY device I could charge via the Solio. The device came with four different nibs (below left), but only one of them was compatible with any of my devices — and by any of my devices, I mean one device — my iPod.

After discovering Solio’s limitations, I looked into what others had to say about this charger — to find that most reviewers agreed with my take:

>> Brian Lam of Gizmodo wasn’t impressed: “I verified on two devices that without sunlight of near equatorial directness, this thing doesn’t really charge by solar — at all.”

>> Leif Pettersen at Gadling noted the device won’t charge properly unless put under direct and clear sunlight — meaning it requires “a little babysitting” on the owner’s part.

>> Tony Nunn at Hacked Gadgets found that the difficult-to-fully-charge device a “doesn’t stack up to the modern convenience’s of wall and car chargers.”

>> Dameon Welch-Abemathy of The Gadgets Weblog was left wishing for “better-performing solar panels.”

>> Julie of The Gadgeteer says this device’ll only work properly if you “put it in a place where there are no shadows and where the sun hits it directly” — making “this device more trouble than it is worth” for most people.

>> Even the eco-friendly SmartPlanet points to the Solio H100’s shortcomings: “Not enough gadget adaptors; could be more powerful.”

The lesson here: Read the first-hand reviews of people who’ve tried out the solar charger of your desire before plunking down your hard-earned money for it.

Top image: Courtesy solio.com; bottom photo: Siel

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.