This month I’ve been testing out the HYmini, the world’s first personal wind powered charger. At $49 it’s a steal and gives you ‘green cred’ – you know, like ‘street cred’.
What is the HYmini?
HYmini calls it “the first green platform universal/charger device to harness window power and solar power”. In other words, stick this thing into on coming wind, the built-in fan will spin and subsequently charge the internal lithium-ion battery. With the included adapters you can charge a wide variety of devices, but more on that later.
How does it work?
Well, once you’ve got some juice into the built-in battery you simply attach a compatible device and flip the switch from its charging to powering position. A red light will emit conveying that the HYmini is sending juice. Unfortunately, the red light is not an indicator of whether or not the attached device is accepting the charge, as experienced with my iPod Shuffle.
How much wind power do you need and how long does it take to charge the device?
Well, first and foremost let me mention that you can actually charge the HYmini in a number of different ways: wind, solar power (a solar panel is included) and lastly you can plug it into the wall. Plugged in it takes about an hour to charge. Spinning at an average wind speed of 10-15mph it should take about an hour but because the charging LED doesn’t work with wind power it’s hard to say. ASC International, the company behind the HYmini says it’ll take about an hour with reasonable wind power and from what I inferred the solar panel adds a little extra juice, but not ideal for complete charging. The HYmini is effective in wind speeds between 9 – 40mph. After 40mph no additional juice is produced. I didn’t have a chance to stick this thing out the window of a car, but that seems totally impractical given most state laws make this illegal.
What devices are the Hymini compatible with?
It’s compatible with most 5V devices. Unfortunately, it won’t work with the iPhone or iPod Shuffle – a big disappointment for me, as those are my top 2 most used gadgets. I did partially charge both a Napster 1GB MP3 players and my girlfriend’s old school LG flip phone (not on the same charge mind you). Included in the package are a variety of adapters: LG, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, mini USB, and Samsung. Because the HYmini’s power output is USB no adapter is needed for the regular iPod, which it apparently works with according to the manufacture.
Is the HYmini heavy?
No, it’s very lightweight. In fact, adding it to my bicycle’s handlebars with the optional bike mount is probably the best way to charge it. Once mounted and riding I didn’t even know it was there. Mounting the bicycle attachment requires no tools and includes an additional attachment for quick on and off removal – the HYmini slides in and out. There’s also an optional armband attachment, but it looks a bit cumbersome (I didn’t test). As for design the HYmini is very compact – about the size of an iPod – and will fit into most bag scenarios (i.e. purses, bags, backpacks, etc). The fan itself is actually made of a malleable like plastic insuring a long life, efficiency and crack or chip free operation. The optional solar panel is slightly larger than an iPhone and is in cased in recycled cardboard – I thought this was packaging upon initial receipt of the device.
What else does the HYmini include?
Because it’s ideal for bikes they’ve built-in two small light emitting LEDs. They don’t emit much ambient light, but a nice safety light for cross street traffic. Also included are the aforementioned adapters and USB power cord. That’s what you get with the HYmini.
What’s your verdict or overall experience?
The HYmini is without a doubt a device of the future. The largest noted drawback was the inability to measure how much the device has been charged via wind or solar power. On the converse, for $49 a pop you really can’t ask for more. It charges most 5V devices, and as previously mentioned I was a little disappointed that it didn’t work with the iPhone, a device that needs regular charging.
Available directly from Hymini for $49. You can pick up the bike mount for $9 more, the solar charger for $25, and the armband for $15.