E-Readers last a very long time, even though they do not have huge batteries. If you are using a Kindle or Kobo e-reader, you can go over a month without having to charge it via the USB cable. E-Readers running Android often have much larger batteries because this OS is very demanding with background processes and running apps. The purpose of e-readers is that they are easy on the eyes, eliminating eye strain. Why don’t e-readers have solar charging?
There only have been a few precious e-readers that have implemented solar-powered charging. The Toshiba Biblio Leaf came out in 2010 and had a small cell on the front of the e-reader. This was warranted because it only had a paltry battery lasting 12 hours. In 2009, LG made a prototype reader. Ki Yong Kim, head of the Solar Cell Office at LG Display, has stated that “ebooks are attracting a lot of attention because they offer the advantage of storing thousands of books worth of contents in an easy-to-carry device. The idea of an ebook combined with solar cells will offer users the added benefit of longer usage. We will continue to provide users with enhanced convenience and value to solidify our lead in next-generation, environmentally friendly products.”
These e-readers were only released in Japan, so anyone wanting to test one is out of luck. I had to dig to find examples of e-readers with solar charging built into them, and both came out 15 years ago. The e-paper and e-reader industry doesn’t care about solar-powered devices.
What about solar-powered cases? Bookeen made a solar charging case in 2015 for the Cybook Ocean. Bookeen says the device needs an hour of sunlight to charge the 8-inch Cybook Ocean for 30 minutes, which is hardly a convenient rate. A company named Solar Focus made a solar-powered case for the Kindle Touch but no other model.
Two e-readers and two cases have been developed for solar-powered charging. Smart watches with E INK have fared better; Seiko and Garmin have incorporated it into a handful of looks. Why has the industry yet to gravitate toward solar charging? Cost and RND are likely two of the most significant factors; it would add in extra charges. E-Readers also don’t like getting hot, I have had them shut down due to how hot they are, especially black colors, because it absorbs like. In order for solar charging to take off, e-readers would need to be white.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.