Power consumption of the SUN, while turned on and waiting for a Bluetooth connection, was miserly, averaging just 2 mW. After connecting to a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, the SUN consumed about 4 mW while waiting for a call and 50 mW while a conversation was ongoing. The power consumption numbers compare favorably with other recent Bluetooth headsets analyzed by Portelligent, including the ultra-small, coin-cell-powered Samsung WEP500. The low power of the Iqua SUN combined with its 110-mAh lithium-polymer battery provide a standby time approaching 200 hours and a talk time of 8 hours to 9 hours, figures consistent with Iqua's stated claims.
The minimal power consumption combined with the built-in solar cell recharger enables the SUN to have infinite standby time, as long as it spends a reasonable amount of time in direct sunlight. The spread between the power generated by the solar cell in direct sunlight and the standby power consumption can also provide some additional battery charge for talk time. Nonetheless, add up all the numbers and it seems heavy talkers will still have to sporadically plug in and recharge through the USB connection on the back of the Iqua SUN headset.
Only one major IC, a Cambridge Silicon Radio BC413159B, populates the 8 cm sq. PCB manufactured by Primax Electronics. The integrated Bluetooth radio and baseband IC is contained in an 8 mm x 8 mm package and includes an audio CODEC, 6 Mb of embedded ROM, and power management for a fully integrated, v2.0+EDR Bluetooth solution. With all functions contained on a single die, CSR provided Iqua with a solution that enables the extremely long standby and talk times along with the ability to be recharged through a small solar cell.
While taking apart the Iqua SUN and pondering the benefits of integrating a solar panel into a Bluetooth headset, I thought back to the hands-free car kit bought as a gift the year prior. A solar-powered Bluetooth car kit, if mounted near a window, would perhaps be an even better variation on the theme, given abundant sunlight available in the car. Alas, you have to be quick in this industry. Just as a business plan was coalescing, Iqua announced the VizorSUN at the beginning of September. Instead of providing unlimited standby, Iqua is making the bold promise of unlimited talk time under optimum lighting conditions for the visor-mounted hands-free car kit. With hands-free finally (maybe) becoming cords-free, perhaps one more Bluetooth-enabled gift will find its way into the holiday mix, and will manage to steer clear of the electronics junk-bin.
See related image: The Iqua SUN provides virtually endless standby time if you give it enough solar exposure.
|The SUN is good, but the company says the new Vizor-SUN is even better. Forget unlimited standby time-think unlimited talk time.|
Jeff Brown is principal analyst of Portelligent, a TechInsights company. The Austin, Texas, firm produces teardown reports and related industry research on wireless, mobile and personal electronics.