Danls92 Reviews: RichardSolo 1800 Please Register or Log in to view images Introduction: What I'm going to be reviewing is the RichardSolo 1800 battery charger. It is a portable battery backup for the iPod Touch (both generations) and iPhone (both versions), that also incorporates a laser pointer and flash light. How I Review: This review is broken up into 3 major categories (Design Overview, Performance, and Misc. Comments) with a final wrap-up at the end. I have never liked the method of reviewing involved the arbitrary assigning of numbers to quantitatively express a feeling because it is so subjective. Due to this, I will not be giving my opinions a numerical value, instead I will be using the words excellent, good, neutral, bad, and horrible. For a brief description of what each means: Excellent- Either perfect or just barely missing it. Something will receive an excellent rating if it is the best it could possibly be. Good- Possible to improve, but by no means bad. This is the verdict I would give something that is good for what it is, but has several things holding it back. Neutral- Neither good nor bad, I don't have any strong feelings. If I feel ambiguous about something it would receive this rating. Bad- The unfavorable outweighs the favorable aspects. If something is not well designed, or poorly implemented this is what I would rate it. Horrible- Unacceptably poor. If something impedes the thing it is meant to assist, or is completely useless I would say this about it. With that being said, let's start the review. 1) Design Overview- Richard Thalheimer, former CEO of The Sharper Image has started another business selling odds and ends that tend to be extremely useful. The RichardSolo 1800 is a new addition into the quickly growing category of portable iPod chargers. It also attempts to appeal to the businessman on the go with an incorporated laser pointer and flashlight (I guess that's more a feature for those of us with slightly less evolved night-sight). The device itself is about 4.5 inches long by 2 inches wide, and is slightly less than half an inch thick. Basically, it won't fill up a pocket, but when connected to the iPod it definitely adds some length. At the top is the iPod dock connector, and a removable brace the clips onto the iPhone. As of this review, there is not a model made for the iPod Touch but Mr. Thalheimer assured me that there would be one soon. You can remove that brace, which makes it handy for charging the define while it is in a skin or case. The dock adapter is also made so that you need to push release buttons on either side to unclip it, ensuring that you'll have a good connection for charging. On the opposite side you'll find buttons for the laser and flashlight. Both are stiff enough that they can easily be depressed without turning on every time somebody gives it a funny look. There is also an On/Off switch on the back of the device that prevents those from working without impeding the charging, that way you don't need to worry about the buttons accidentally being pushed down and draining the battery. Also on this side is a mini-usb port used for charging the device. Included are a charger and cable but I'll get to those a little later. The one glaring flaw for users of the iPod Touch is that the way the device is constructed, it blocks the headphone jack at the bottom. While this isn't as big of a deal for 2nd generation iPods as they have a speaker, it's still nice to be able to use headphones. iPhone users don't have this problem as their headphone jack is on the top of the device. This effectively limits this to charging when you won't use the iPod, which is nice but more than a bit inconvenient. Rating: Good By all accounts, this device is terrific. There is incredibly attention to detail, from the 3 different LEDs indicating status to the cover for the dock adapter that comes with the device. The only problems barring its admission into the Excellent category are those caused by the fact that it was designed for a different device. I have no doubts that when the iPod Touch specific device is released, the 1800 will take it's rightful place in that coveted position. Please Register or Log in to view images 2) Performance- This is the second iteration of the RichardSolo battery line, with a 1800 mAh battery providing 50% more battery than the predecessor. This translates into enough power to power the iPod about one and half times from dead. The device employs "advanced circuitry" which does a remarkably effective job of keeping the battery cool. Not once did I pick it up and cringe from the heat output, which can happen on laptop batteries and the like. A nice feature is that if you plug the device into your iPod and plug the battery in, it will charge your iPod first then proceed to charge the battery itself. You can simply plug it in at night and wake up knowing that they are both fully charged. The laser and flashlight also work off this battery, but I can't imagine them running the battery down over a period of anything less than a week. The flashlight utilizes a bright led, which lights the immediate area but has a fairly short range. All in all, for a flashlight incorporated into an iPod battery I think it excels with flying colors. Rating: Excellent This device is simply amazing, I can't think of anything that could be added in the performance category. It does everything expected and more, all with style and reliability. Please Register or Log in to view images 3) Miscellaneous Comments Along with the device itself, the battery also comes with an AC wall charger and cigarette lighter adapter for the iPod road warrior. Also included is a retractable USB -> Mini-USB adapter, which is a convenient touch to avoid tangled cables but could stand to be a bit longer. All of these work perfectly, and there's really nothing to complain about. One thing that I did find slightly disappointing was that you couldn't use the wall charger to charge the iPod directly, but for most with a wall charger dedicated for the iPod this shouldn't be a problem. I'd also like to take this opportunity to comment on the impressive customer service I received. I had been emailed back by Mr. Thalheimer himself within 3 hours of first contacting them, which is leagues above what would be expected. As the company is still relatively small, you can tell that they really value their customers which is always nice from a company. Rating: Excellent Once again, Mr. Thalheimer and company leave nothing to be desired. The accessories work flawlessly, and the customer service was simply superb. 4) Overall Rating: Good This is a device with incredibly potential held back by one fatal flaw. With everything that was done right, it is slightly disheartening to have to give this device only a good but the inability to use the headphone jack while charging is simply inexcusable. As I said above, Mr. Thalheimer informed me that an iPod Touch specific model would be released shortly and I can only hope that it is made in a way that permits access to the headphone jack. Other than that flaw, this device is simply amazing. Mr. Thalheimer and company will have my business for a long time if all of their products match this little device.