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Power-less: No mains, or USB charging. We go off-grid for a week.

Some of the top-end phone really suck up your phone energy. It’s not rare now to top-up your phone mid-way through the day, especially if you forgot to plug-in the night before. So we’re swearing off the socket.

Now, we’re too plugged-in to just go cold turkey and start using the office’s Motorola F3, so we’ll still be using a smartphone, but have sworn off plugging ourselves into mains or USB to charge. (No BBC iPlayer for us this week.)

In order to maintain friendships, and keep our job, we brought three different kinds of charger which will hopefully power us through this week. you can see it all at the top there. The rule is we have to generate all our own power.

On the right is Nokia’s Bicycle Charger.  Working like a bike light dynamo, it initially only charges on a 2mm adapter, but you can get a special connector from the Nokia shop that allows it to charge through micro-USB. 

Remember to check your phone, and the charger’s power ratings, before connecting the two.

Nokia say that for ten minutes of sustained pedalling, we should get 28 minutes of talk-time. We don’t cycle to work, but this could be a good incentive to. Exercise is good too, we guess.

We’ll have to make sure to be going faster than 6 kmph, though at 12 kmph, the dynamo will charge just as efficiently as a normal plug-in charger; a very good thing.

The next charger follows the same dynamo principle, but requires a little more elbow-grease- it’s a wind-up.

The instructions say we can expect to generate 10 minutes talk-time for three minutes furious winding, and it should give the phone an instant top-up.

It’s also a torch, naturally, and only £5.99. Planet-saving bargain, at FindMeAGift.

We’re really hoping the weather will perk up this week, as our last charger, the Powapatch is solar-powered battery pack that is almost the size of a phone. Aside from solar, you can charge it by mains or USB, even if we can’t.

Although the cabling may look scary it’s pretty simple; the large USB plug connects to phones to charge ‘out’, while the mini USB port connects to your PC or mains, letting the charging goodness ‘in’.

The Powapatch comes with a clever velcro-esque sticker, to attach to the back of the solar charger. You can then stick another sticker on the side of your bag, tent or head.

The makers, Apatchy, also stock a range of accessories, like a side-bag we’ve been given, with surfaces ready attach to the charger-battery pack to.

The lanyard attached means it shouldn’t fall off without you knowing, nor should anyone be able to snatch and grab it.

We’ve also tried to adjust our behaviour to decrease the amount of power used. Feature phones (without the access to video, touch-screen web browsing, Wi-Fi or 3G) is obviously the best bet, but we wanted to see how typical use could be managed with green power alone.

Nokia have sent us an N8, which, alongside being immediately compatible with their cycle charger, has a good battery for a smartphone, respectable social networking capabilities, YouTube, and we can get our Gmail up on it. Enough for our day-to-day use, though we’ll have to give up the app habit, to an extent.

We’ve reduced the volume of the ringer, and will try to have the phone on vibrate most of the time.

We’ll be trying to listen to music on the N8, but that may have to be sacrificed to make it through the week. We’ve also lowered the brightness on the screen, and turned off push mail; we’ll have to check our email manually if we want to keep up to date.

We’ll be updating on our progress throughout the week, on Twitter (@Recombumat) and on the site, and next Monday we’ll sum up how well the different chargers worked out.


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