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Solar-powered Ubuntu laptop to launch

A Canadian IT consultancy has announced that it will soon begin selling an Ubuntu laptop that “never needs to be plugged in,” thanks to solar power. The SOL, as WeWi Telecommunications dubs the device, is designed to be used in developing nations, which may have limited infrastructure available.

CEO and co-founder David Snir told Network World that the official roll-out would tubuntu-solar-powered-laptopake place in Ghana on Aug. 20, and that the SOL would be available for sale to governments and educational institutions before the end of the month.

“For consumers it should be in two months’ time, with first availability in African regions, then Middle East, Europe and North America,” he added.

Snir says that WeWi is working with a Chinese manufacturer to make the SOL, and that the device can currently be produced at the rate of 20,000 per month, though the company is looking to expand that capacity in the future.

The SOL, which costs as little as $350, is powered by an entry-level Intel Atom processor and embedded graphics. It has a 13.3-inch, 1366×768 screen, 3MP webcam, and built-in support for 3G/4G, GPS, and b/g/n Wi-Fi. The starter price can rise with the addition of 4GB instead of 2GB of DDR3 RAM, satellite Internet connectivity, and waterproofing.

The centerpiece solar panel is cleverly mounted on the back of the screen, folding out into an array of four collectors. In direct sunlight, the company says, the SOL should be able to charge fully in two hours, with a charge providing 10 hours of usage. It’s also detachable, and can be used via an extension cord.

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