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The current of the future: wind power at your fingertips.
The HYmini leverages the power of the wind, sun, hand-crank, or, if need be, the electric grid to recharge most of your 5V gadgets. Rain or shine, this charger will store the power it generates in its internal 1200mAh lithium-ion battery, and a fully charged HYmini can juice up a couple of iPods before it runs dry.
The good news for Seattleites and Londoners: You can stick the HYmini where the sun don’t shine—that is, somewhere it can harness the wind—and 20 minutes of wind charge should get you 30 minutes of playback time on your iPod. The bad news: The wind generator, which is designed as a supplemental source and cannot fully charge the HYmini on its own, requires consistent wind speeds of at least 9mph, a feat only feasible if you attach it to your bike or car (note, however, that the device maxes out at 40mph and will not withstand wind speeds in excess of 60mph, eliminating freeway driving as a viable option). So, while the wind here in San Francisco averages 10.67mph, the device can really only take advantage of these breezes if it is sitting on a cyclist’s handlebars or is attached to a car window during in-town driving.
We attached the HYmini to our bike and rode for 2 hours at around 20 mph, from which we got about an hour and a half of play out of our iPod touch. And while our bike commute is only a half an hour, luckily, you can use partial charges to keep your devices going indefinitely. Ultimately though, we wish the wind turbine was more efficient.
The HYmini is also designed to work with solar panels from MiniWIZ ($24.99), which take about 10 hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the device. We tried the panels—built from renewable resources—in our office’s tinted windows to no avail, and then tried to charge the HYmini with the solar panels stuck in our regular windows at home with some success, but made the most progress when we caught direct rays on our sun deck. We had a few extra solar panels, which were able to give us a nearly full charge in just a few hours when piggybacked together. The HYmini can also be charged with the included AC adapter and then topped off via solar or wind power—convenient for traveling.