[Updated with Q&A from Snow Lizard Products' Steve Calle]
I'm addicted to Kickstarter. Let's start with that.
When Steve Calle's AQUA TEK S hybrid battery/solar charger/ruggedized case for the iPhone 4/4S showed up on my radar I almost backed it for the full $5k -- on the spot.
Calle is principal of Snow Lizard Products out of Utah. A pledge of $5,000 nets you four AQUA TEK S' and a weekend at the Snow Lizard compound in Park City with a four-day ski pass at Park City, natch.
(Did I mention that I have a small Kickstarter problem?)
Once reality set it, I opted for a $100 pledge which gets me one of his badass cases, which will retail for around $130 in March 2012 -- if the project gets $75,000 in funding by March 10.
So $100 for a case, eh?
Well no, not really.
It's much more than that. If you took your iPhone to Siberia or Iraq (or snowboarding) I'm pretty sure that you'd want it in an AQUA TEK S. In addition to being waterproof up to 20 feet, this tough polycarbonate case also includes a built-in Lithium polymer battery and a solar cell for when that runs out. If that wasn't enough, there's even spiffy rubber grips so that you can hold in in your ski mitts.
The problem is that ruggization and waterproofing have their tradeoffs. Headphone access will likely be Bluetooth only and the ring/silent button, on/off button and front camera will be in accessible. But the essentials (home, volume, touchscreen, rear camera) will be. I'm pretty sure that I can live with that.
Get those pledges in folks, summer is coming and this is definitely the rig you want for camping/hiking and attending weekend festivals with your iPhone.
Update: Q&A with Steve Calle, co-founder of Snow Lizard Products:
Q. Is there any appreciable antenna degradation in your prototypes? Vis-a-vis antenna-gate? A. No, we have not see any antenna degradation, this product will be FCC and CE tested and approved. We have regulatory engineers on board. So far so good.
Q. How much will it weigh? A. The weight of the AQUA TEK S is going to be around 320 g or around 8 oz.
Q. Any decisions on the battery capacity? How many mAh will the first models ship with? A. We are close to finalizing that. it will be around 1400 mAh. i wanted to go bigger, but didn't want to compromise the size much more.
Q. Any specs you can share on the solar panel? i.e. max. wattage, discharge rate, charge rate, etc... A. Efficiency is the most important spec we will be looking into the panel.
Q. Have you selected a vendor for the panels yet? A. No, we have narrowed it down to 2 or 3. We're still working on pricing and final specs.
Q. How's touch access at the edge of the screen? Many rugged cases I've tried make a trade-off here. Dragging icons between pages for example, or near the edges can be tough if there's a big bezel. A. We tested it and you can grab and move the icons form side to side (different window). It isn't hard to do. The size of the screen area should be good.
Q. The Kickstarter's up to $30k, are you optimistic about making your $75k goal? A. Well, if we keep this pace over the past few days, I am very confident. All the publicity has helped out immensely. We are getting a lot of support and the retailers that we've shown it to, also love it.
Here's the video: