By Evan Ackerman
At Mobile World Congress 2009 this week, LG was displaying a new cell phone with a solar panel battery back that won’t need to be plugged in until the sun goes dead in 6-odd billion years. Ten minutes of sun gets you three minutes of talk time, which is not half bad… The phone is due to be released in Europe by the end of this year, but hopefully LG will take the obvious step of just manufacturing battery backs with integrated solar panels, which would allow existing handsets to be quickly and easily converted to solar charging.
The other thing in that picture is a solar powered Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone, the LG HFB-500. LG was giving these out at their press conference at CES, and it was just too nifty to include in our CES swag giveaway (sorry). It comes with a suction mount to stick it in the windshield of your car, as well as a power adapter that you’ll ideally never use. It’s got an on/off button (it shuts off automatically), a big call answer button, and some volume buttons. That’s it. I’ve had it up on the windshield of my car since January, and I’ve never had to charge it, it’s just always there and ready to go. The LG HFB-500 costs $70 or $80 depending on where you look, which is maybe a little steep, but having gadgets that are ever present and functional without any plugs or maintenance whatsoever is worth a little extra money, I’d say.