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Product Review

Product Review - February

By Shalin Shah

1. PowerFilm's Portable Solar Chargers
2. Parallax's Micro-Organic LED Display
3. Sparkle Power's ATX12V Power Supply

1. PowerFilm's Portable Solar Chargers

PowerFilm's Portable Solar Chargers Recharge laptops, cell phones, GPS systems, mp3 players and more!

What does a high school senior have to do with this month's Product Update? Well, this isn't about just any high school student. Brian McCarthy was a 3rd place winner of Intel's Science Talent Search and at its annual Intel Developer Forum (IDF) - dedicated to nurturing global access to technological ideas - held in San Francisco's Moscone Center in 2008, Brian discussed his work on plastic solar cells, proving that plastic solar cells will be cheaper to manufacture and distribute. Today his research is reality at Jameco.

PowerFilm, a company that has a technological partnership with HP, has integrated solar panels (really just thin film on plastic) with a proprietary roll process, which makes them truly flexible, allowing for easy storage into a pocket. PowerFilm solar panels are all monolithically integrated, which eliminates the need for unreliable manual connections of individual solar cells. Unlike some other solar technologies, PowerFilm is non-toxic, environmentally-friendly (since it's made from silicon), performs well in diverse environments, and doesn't suffer from wasted over-voltage.

PowerFilm's Portable Solar Chargers The USB + AA Solar Charger is ideal for everyday use since it charges batteries as well as most small USB devices. Proprietary charging circuitry maximizes charge into the batteries. The USB + AA charger also provides a full charge in 4 hours of sunlight and indicates the charging status with a charging light on the side of the enclosure.

2. Parallax's Micro-Organic LED Display

Micro-Organic LED Display Jameco now carries ALL Parallax products!

This is my first display review and to be honest I wasn't sure if I even needed to consider a new display technology. After all, LCD monitors are pretty much the standard nowadays. Looking towards the future, however, OLED's show a lot of promise.

Similar to Sony's XEL-1, the world's first OLED TV (pictured right), Parallax's display also controls foreground and background color. The Parallax µOLED can also produce text in a variety of sizes and draw shapes (which can include user-defined bitmaps, such as logos) in 262,000 colors. The module is designed to operate under 2 different software platforms: the Serial Command platform and the 4DGL (4D Graphics Language) platform.

Micro OLED The µOLED-128-G1 is capable of being integrated into a variety of different applications through a wealth of features designed to facilitate any given functionality quickly and efficiently. Some of the practical applications are as follows:

- Full-color display for microcontroller projects
- Electronic panel meter gauge for instrumentation / automotive applications
- Mini billboard for advertising
- Display for handheld diagnostics / medical equipment

3. Sparkle Power's ATX12V Power Supply (2110457, 2110422, 2110449, 2110238, 2110254)

Last month, we reviewed Mean Well's ELN60-12V LED power supply. This was great for LED applications, with optimal efficiency falling in the 60W range. This month, we have five more power supplies on our blog, but this time targeting the PC market. This particular market is where we really start to see higher quality designs and better technologies, in part because these tend to be more expensive power supplies (although the ATX12V/PFC is listed under $80).

These days, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to find real innovations from power supply manufacturers with the primary differences being in additional features, such as fans and case colors. All of the similarities do have some benefits. However comparing units from different manufacturers becomes a lot easier, when basic component quality is similar. If two units have similar voltage regulations and efficiency, but one unit is quieter or cheaper, then you can safely choose that option.

One can see how the ATX12V/PFC models stack up to the competition:
    - Low noise and ripple (120mVp-p)
    - Internal 12VDC fan
    - High efficiency and reliability
    - Remote ON/OFF function
    - Output over-voltage, short-circuit, and over-current protection
    - 100% burn-in tested
    - Re-settable power shut down
    - Active Power Factor Correction (PFC)
    - Approved by CUL/UL60950-1/CSA/TUV