This Week in Mobile Tech: Smartphones, GPS, and Solar Power

 25 Jun 2011 - By Omar Yesid Mariño+

We’ve got another round-up (some would call it a mish-mosh) of the coolest mobile tech to debut this week just for you. This time around we’re talking about Blackberry, GPS, and solar-powered goodness to add a little green to your gear.

Blackberry Bold 9900

I’ve never been a devotee of the Blackberry (and I think it’s time they shake up their design a little) but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire a solid piece of machinery. The Blackberry Bold 9000 has just enough of the traditional Blackberry feature—the QWERTY keyboard and the standard layout—with enough new innovations to make it competitive with the newer mobile phones on the market.

Portable Solar Power

First of all, this Blackberry has a touch screen. It’s still not a full-sized touch screen (it’s only 640×480), the keyboard does still take up half the phone, but it’s quick, responsive, and crisp. Blackberry has also ditched the outdated trackball and installed a trackpad—which will take a bit of getting used to but is definitely a step in the right direction.

There’s also a five megapixel camera on the back that records 720p video (which should have been full HD in my opinion) and no front-facing which means no new profile shots for you.

You get all of this crammed into the thinnest, lightest, Blackberry housing ever—so if portability is your thing, you’re good to go.

But the outside of the phone isn’t really all that surprising. If you saw it from a mile away, you could still tell it was a Blackberry.

Inside, however, you’ll find a 1.2GHz processor (which is nearly double the processing power of its next closest Blackberry competitor). The prototype models that are circulating are currently running on Blackberry OS 7 but by the time this phone actually makes it to the market there should be an upgrade available.

So, in conclusion, RIM may still be beating a dead horse as far as the design of the Blackberry line goes but at least they are trying to keep up with the rest of the pack by tweaking their internals.

Hit up the Blackberry website  for all the official details (except for pricing and a release date).

Magellan RoadMate 5175t-LM

The Magellan RoadMate 5175T-LM is a WiFi-enabled GPS unit that features a host of travel planning software that can help you plan your next vacation or business trip with ease. It includes a nearly fully functional web browser and AAA travel planning in addition to a WVGA touch screen.


GPS units maybe on the decline (though I don’t think current GPS enabled smartphone are really up to the task) but this unit is still cool. It has a built-in tour guide function (called TourDirector), so you can learn about the landmarks you’re zipping past or you can choose to use it to its full potential and take it on a leisurely road trip some lazy weekend. With the added AAA functionality, you can find nearby accommodations and see the ratings, so you don’t end up in the Bates Motel!

Magellan RoadMate 5175t-LM

The design is pretty standard without any added bells and whistles (unless you count the WiFi) and everything functions as promised. You even get lifetime maps with this model, so you don’t ever have to worry about paying for upgrades.

The only drawback is the price. Its set to retail at nearly $300 when it hits the market, which is a little high compared to its Garmin counterparts. Still, it’s a solid device without the quirks of a smartphone.

Hit up  the official Magellan website for all the specs.

Voltaic Spark Tablet Case

Solar power is a great idea but has never been practical for mobile devices. However, the new tablet case from Voltaic can help prolong the comically short life of just about any tablet on the market with built-in solar cells. And it functions as a case and stand, though the lunchbag-like design might turn more than a few potential buyers away.

Voltaic Spark Tablet Case

The Spark Tablet Case can produce 8 watts of power in direct sunlight and can fully charge a Apple tablet in about 10 hours. However, it can also store that juice in the built-in battery pack that can run your devices even when the sun is playing shy.

But if you live in the Land of The Midnight Sun where the sun doesn’t shine for months at a time, you can also charge said battery pack via USB in order to ensure you’ve got enough juice to play your Angry Birds.

The only thing holding the Spark back is the $300 price tag. Still, with external batteries costing about $100 a pop, I suppose that tag isn’t too awful big.

If you’d like to learn more or order your own (grey or silver) hit up the Voltaic Systems website.

Disclaimer - Category: Android, Blackberry, Cell Phone