When the XO-3 tblet debuted a few weeks back, one of its selling points was that it could run off of a small 10W solar panel. In fact, if I hadn't been distracted by CES 2012, I would have written about this post, in which they prove the solar panel concept with an XO-1.75 laptop.
Now, the XO-1.75 isn't the XO-3, but it does share a lot of details. The over all design of the motherboards is the same, so the power consumption should be similar. But you don't have to take my word for it; check out the following video. It was shot in Cambridge, MA, in early January.
That last is an interesting detail, because the weak sunlight at that northern latitude added an extra challenge for the power system. That panel wouldn't be nearly as efficient as if you tested it in July. And it still provided enough power to run the XO-1.75.
That's an interesting video, but they don't show much, do they? So let me show you the video I got today.
This next video was shot in the DC area by a member of the local OLPC club. Micheal Lee tried to duplicate the earlier video but had only mixed success. Due to the weather and season, the 10W solar panel wasn't enough. He had to switch to a 20W panel before he could get the XO-1.75 running without the battery installed.
Even if he couldn't duplicate the earlier video, it's still a neat trick. He also links to another video in his post.
But this video also does something else, and that is puncture the hype. The XO-3 tablet was shown off with a solar panel built into the cover. That panel is estimated to be around 4W, which is never going to be enough to power the tablet directly. It's enough to slowly charge the tablet, yes. If you leave it unused for long enough you might get full battery charge.
But really, that solar panel on the XO-3 cover is just an affectation. The real power is going to come from somewhere else.
image By curiouslee