Review: Scosche solCHAT

Solar power for your iPhone. (October 28th, 2009)

Small solar powered hands free speakerphone kit for your iPhone or other Bluetooth phone with two different types of mounts.

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Product Manufacturer: Scosche Industries

Price: 99.99 US

The Good

  • Small, light.
    Solar powered.
    Simple design.

The Bad

  • Some background hiss during calls, but not very noticeable while car is moving.

From Scosche comes the solCHAT, a small solar powered hands free speakerphone kit for your iPhone or other Bluetooth phone. The solCHAT is very small, about the size of a business card, and less than 3/4 of an inch thick.

It comes with a pair of mounting kits, so you can attach it to your car visor or windshield, and a USB charger. The USB charger connects to a computer or the included car charger. The user interface for the unit is all via audio - there is no display screen on the solCHAT. If your phone is on when you get into your car, the solCHAT automatically pairs with your phone.


solCHAT Font and Back

You may never use the USB charger for the solCHAT, because solar cells cover the entire back side of the unit. They charge the unit while it is attached to your windshield, during the day, obviously. Scosche claims that each two hours of sunlight extends the talk time of the unit for one hour and other sites report up to 12 hours of talk time, but I wasn't able to test it or talk for that length of time.

 solCHAT package

solCHAT Package

The generated announcements on the solCHAT, such as incoming call, call rejected, and call ended are all clear and easy to understand. Audio during phone calls, on the other hand, is not as clear. I had some intermittent background hiss, which I could not hear in tests in a car, but was easy to hear when testing the unit in an office.

 solCHAT Window Mount and Clip

solCHAT Window Mount and Clip

The solCHAT only has four buttons, so you won't hit the wrong buttons very often. There are volume buttons, and a small mode button on the side for initiating pairing and other setup tasks. However, in day-to-day use, all you really need is the large button in the middle of the unit, which Scosche calls the Multi-function Button or MFB for short. When the phone rings, the unit announces the number that is calling, and you can tap the MFB once to accept the call, or hold it down to reject it. When finished with a call, you tap the MFB to disconnect. To redial a call, you tap the MFB twice.

You can transfer your contact list to the solCHAT so that you hear the caller's name announced instead of the number. However, I was unable to get this to work with my iPhone. After some investigation, I discovered that this is a limitation of the iPhone, rather than the solCHAT, but it's still a shame. The SolCHAT isn't cheap at $99.99, and only comes with a 90-day warranty.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Marshall Clow


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