By JESSICA WELSHANS
Solar power has come a long way. Solar panels are becoming smaller and very portable.
Eton, a company that makes a variety of products that harness the power of the sun, has created the Rugged Rukus, an all-outdoor, wireless sound system, powered by a solar panel.
The unit hooks up by using Bluetooth, which almost any device that stores music is equipped with today.
We checked the Rugged Rukus's capabilities with a Galaxy Tablet and two Android-based smartphones. The system was right on the money.
All we did was power up the unit, turn on the Bluetooth on the phones and tablet, choose a music program, and voila, the tunes were playing at our campsite in the great outdoors.
The Rugged Rukus could be used at any outing - a picnic, on the boat, while camping, at bonfires, worksites, literally anywhere you have time in the sun.
It even will work when the sun sets. The solar panel gathers enough energy to store power in its internal lithium battery.
When the music dies out, charge it up in the sun the next day and it can take around five hours or so with a nice source of sun.
At first glance, the speakers look small and may create a little doubt of their performance, but don't let looks deceive. They make a nice, clear and smooth stereo sound. Not too loud, but loud enough to fill a campsite with music.
A USB port is available for charging mobile devices. It can switch over to AC power if needed. There is an AUX-in use option, but the cable is a separate purchase, so this wasn't tested.
The Rukus is water resistant and if the panel gets dirty, it easily can be wiped with a soft fabric.
It features a handle and strap for carrying, is very lightweight and comes in green and black.
We fell for the product as soon as it played the first song. It's convenient to have a product that is easy to use, easy to charge and portable to take anywhere.
The Rugged Rukus retails for $99.99 and can be found at www.etoncorp.com.