10 'Green' Tech Products To Celebrate On Earth Day10:00 AM EST Fri. Apr. 20, 2012
With all its power cords, batteries, and massive manufacturing lines, the tech industry is rarely viewed as an icon for sustainability. But, even in the business of making gadgets, not all tech companies operate at the cost of Mother Nature. In fact, many take pride in their efforts to go "green" and are shaping their products to reflect that.
In honor of Earth Day 2012, here are 10 tech products that get the job done -- while still showing some love for planet Earth.
Like many PC makers, Asus takes strides to protect Mother Nature in a variety ways. But one of its most obvious eco-friendly moves was in 2010, when it strayed from traditional metal or plastic laptop frames to launch a series of mobile PCs in which the frames have been crafted almost entirely out of bamboo.
According to the PC maker, bamboo is one of the earth’s most renewable and fastest-growing resources, known to grow as much as 23 inches in 24 hours. Plus, it’s just as durable as its metal alloy counterparts. Asus said its bamboo-crafted U6V notebook is the first ever to have survived the unforgiving conditions atop Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
The bamboo notebooks are still available today, and they tend to start at about $800.
Eaton’s Intelligent Power Software Suite facilitates power management for one of the world’s most energy-hungry operations: the data center.
Through the software suite, data center administrators can remotely monitor and manage multiple Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or Enclosure Power Distribution Unit (ePDU) devices within one centralized user interface. Users can measure power consumption, load levels, and power usage effectiveness (PUE) to ensure their data centers run as optimally, and efficiently, as possible. And according to Eaton, efficiency can mean more cash -- especially in a data center.
"Most customers do not realize that in order to run their data center, they are consuming three times more energy than what they need to run their manufacturing line," Herve Tardy, vice president and general manager of the Distributed Power Quality Business Unit for Eaton, told CRN in January.
Unlike most alarm clocks, which rely on batteries or outlets to tick and tock, a unique design from Bedol needs only tap water to keep the time.
Bedol’s Drop Water Clock -- which, fittingly, is shaped like a raindrop -- is powered entirely by water. The water needs to be replaced every six months, but users can rest assured that a built-in memory chip will keep track of the time. Like most alarm clocks, it features daily and hourly alarm options and can be set as a 12- or 24-hour display.
The Drop is six and half inches tall, and sells for $29.
In addition to notebook and desktop PCs, AMD chips are found in servers. And to help curb the power appetite of these energy-intensive machines, the chip maker launched its Opteron series of low-power chips in November.
Optimized specifically for data centers, the Bulldozer architecture-based Opteron 6200, 4200, and 3200 series are said to boost server performance without sacrificing power efficiency. The 6200, specifically, offers an 86 percent increase in performance, while requiring only half the power-per-core than its predecessor server chips.
What’s more, the Opteron chips include a Thermal Design Power Cap feature that allows data center operators both to customize the chips to meet specific power and workload demands and to tap into unused space on a server rack.
At CES 2012 in January, Samsung touted a transparent, half-PC, half-window prototype that was unlike any other gadget on the show floor. Turns out, it’s actually pretty green, too.
That prototype was the Samsung Smart Window, and the idea behind it is to afford users the luxury of a 46-inch LCD touchscreen PC without eating up too much space on the living room wall. Instead, the transparent screen is laid over a window, doubling as a both a PC and a place to glance out and enjoy the front yard view.
But, what makes it green is its light source. Laying the Smart Window over an actual window allows it be lit by natural ambient light, at least during the daytime. In turn, the device, when it eventually comes to market, will consume only one-tenth of the electricity consumed by traditional LCD displays.
Printers can sometimes have a bad rap in the eyes of eco-enthusiasts. But their use of paper shouldn’t necessarily knock them out of the running for the market’s greenest gadgets.
Take the HP Photosmart eStation C510 all-in-one printer, for instance. Included on channel distributor D&H’s top selling green-certified products list, the C510 nips wastefulness in the bud by using automatic double-sided printing and only consuming one watt of energy while in off mode.
The Energy Star-qualified C510 is even eco-friendly after a user no longer needs it. HP offers customers full hardware and toner recycling services to ensure old printer parts aren’t left for the landfills.
Sony’s VAIO SA ultrathin laptop touts a 13.3-inch screen, up to 12 hours of battery life, and both Intel Core i7 and AMD Radeon HD 6630M GPU. But it’s clear the portable PC was also built with power efficiency in mind, especially when you look closely at its keyboard.
The Windows 7-based notebook comes equipped with a full backlit keyboard that seems to have a mind of its own. Its light fades after a period of idleness, conserving energy when it’s not needed and automatically adjusting itself to produce only the amount of light needed to be visible in a certain environment.
Put simply, the SA series "knows" when a user is in a brightly-lit environment and dims itself automatically to save power.
Sony has also partnered with IBM’s World Community Grid to donate the processing power of Sony VAIO PCs during idle time to fuel research of global environmental issues, AIDS, cancer, and muscular dystrophy.
Lenovo unveiled this month three new workstations -- the ThinkStation S30, C30, and D30 -- which are said by the PC maker to not only deliver faster memory and compute performance than their older siblings but also keep energy costs down as well.
The S30, C30, and D30 offer up to 90 percent power efficiency, and they received the Energy Star 5.2 certification, Lenovo said. They are also built with up to 65 percent recycled materials, meaning their “green” before they’re even turned on.
The lower-end ThinkStation S30 model is available starting at $1,029. The C30 retails for $1,399. And, the D30 is available for $1,549.
Non-profit organization One Laptop per Child (OLPC) manufactures inexpensive laptops to help children in developing countries gain access to new technologies. But at this year’s CES, it previewed its new XO 3.0 notebook, which lends the environment a helping hand as well.
The XO 3.0 is a low-power "ruggedized" laptop that can run on solar power. With the use of a solar panel soft cover, the device powers itself on the sun’s natural energy rather than a battery.
It can also be charged via a manual hand crank. OLPC CTO Ed McNierney told Engadget in January that one minute of crank time yields 10 minutes of usage.
OLPC wasn’t the only CES-goer to show off a solar-powered device. SolarFocus, a tech organization that has dedicated itself to the pursuit of solar energy, unveiled its SolarKindle Lighted Cover for Amazon’s Kindle e-book tablet.
As its name suggests, the SolarKindle Lighted Cover acts as a solar panel that conserves a Kindle’s power. When placed over the device, the cover uses sunlight to fuel its own built-in reserve battery rather than the Kindle’s own battery, allowing it to conserve overall battery life.
Despite the additional functionality, SolarKindle said the cover is still a hit aesthetically, designed to "look smart and feel great" without being bulky.