Between the plunging price of solar panels -- down about 40 percent last year -- and the government's move to dial back subsidies, it's been a cloudy year for the $93 billion solar industry. Still, insiders say new panel tech could mean a brighter outlook for solar on a smaller scale.
Samsung says its solar-powered netbook -- designed for places without reliable electricity -- is the first of its kind. The machine, which has a 250-gigabyte hard drive, isn't sold in the U.S. but retails for $450 to $650 in Russia, Brazil and parts of Africa.
Ikea's new $30 pendant lamp combines solar and wind power, to stay charged in all types of weather. Ikea says the outdoor lamp will remain illuminated for about 12 hours, after juicing up for as little as nine hours. The firm doesn't release product-specific sales figures but says the lamp has attracted a "huge amount of interest" since it went on sale earlier this year.
Reading with Rays
Amazon Kindle users looking for an excuse to spend more time poolside may be interested in SolarFocus's $80 e-reader cover. The company says a charged cover provides at least three months of unplugged reading time. The original is designed for Kindle and Kindle Touch; the maker says it plans to release additional versions this summer.