Creative Edge Solar-5+ Review
Cons: Not very powerful, not reliable for solar charging
Manufacturer: Creative Edge
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Creative Edge Solar-5+ was a bit of a wild card, but managed a couple strong performances in our field testing.
The Creative Edge is not a powerful device, but we hardly expected it to be given that it is the size of a smartphone.
The battery charged an iPad 35% in 2.5 hours when it had only 3/4 charge, but we were unable to get it to register a full battery charge (See Ease of Use, below).
Creative Edge says the right port will charge up to 2.1 amps, whereas the left port will charge up to 1 amp, but that both ports, if charging simultaneously, will charge at a rate of 2.1 amps total. We tasked our testers to guess which port was the higher amperage port without telling them which one it was supposed to be (and because the ports are not labeled on the device. Half of our testers reported right while the other half reported left as the stronger ports. Curious.The Creative Edge gave a little more juice than the SunFerno Flintstone, which was the most similar device we tested.
Our conclusion? Don't rely on the advertised specs of these integrated panel/battery devices, and don't count on stellar, reliable, durable electronic components.
Ease of Use
The Creative Edge has four LED indicator lights which, in theory, tell you how full the battery is. Interestingly, we had trouble fully charging the battery such that all four LEDs were lit. With solar, we only got up to 2 LEDs, and from the wall we only got 3 LEDs. This could have been a glitch with the LEDs, but hard to say. The device would consistently turn off after reaching 3 LEDs from the wall socket, indicating it was not charging any more--but when we hit the power button, we only got 3 LEDs.
We did like the centered hole in the top of the device where you clip the carabiner. Unlike the SunFerno Flintstone which has the carabiner clip hole off to the side, this centered design makes it much easier to align the panel to the sun if you're clipping it to a backpack, tent, etc. Also, the hole is large enough to allow the carabiner to freely rotate, also improving your ability to align the panel to the sun.
This is among the lightest solar-equipped chargers in our review. The Creative Edge Solar 5+ stands out for its light weight and portability, but it loses points in other categories, especially output power and overall solar reliability (or reality).
In one test in cold but sunny Antarctica (where the field camps run largely off solar energy), the Creative Edge actually drained our iPad 5% when we plugged it in to charge. This was the only device in our review that committed such a crime, and indicated that this is not a panel to be used in cold environments.
Otherwise, this panel did provide some battery life after sitting in the sun for a while, and seemed on-par with other similar panels in that regard.
The Creative Edge 5+ gets an A+ in portability. This is a semi-solar charging battery that is super easy to throw in a backpack or slide in your back pocket. It doesn't get lots of kudos from us, but in the portability realm, it is outstanding. This device is very similar in size (and function… or semi-function) as the Levin Dual USB Port 6000mAh Panel and the SunFerno Flintstone.
This is not a panel to keep your devices charged on a long backcountry trip. As advertised, the solar component is for emergency purposes only, whatever that means, because it's not guaranteed to work just because you're having an emergency. But we suppose it does provide a little ray of hope when the sun is shining.
As the most expensive of the three almost-identical devices we tested, including the Levin and the SunFerno Flintstone, we feel this solar charger deserves a little more criticism. It did not perform head and shoulders above the others, so we don't think it justified the uptick in price.
This charger did perform a little more reliably, overall, than the others in the same sub-genre, but in a sub-category marred by poor performance and disappointment, this is hardly a compliment.
Other Versions and Accessories
Includes: USB to microUSB cable, micro USB to Apple Lightning adapter, carabiner
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 26, 2016
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