Hands-on with the Urbanista Los Angeles (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)
The Swedish headphone maker Urbanista has always had a fresh take on earphones and headphones, differentiating itself from the competition by having simple, bold, and easy to use designs that are made for those living in the city – thus the model names that are named after major world cities.
This time however, Urbanista took their innovation to the next level by claiming to have created: the world’s first solar-powered headphones – and they seem to be right.
The Urbanista Los Angeles claims the summit despite the first short-lived attempt made by JBL on indiegogo back in 2019, labeled the REFLECT Eternal: Self-Charging Headphones. The project was unfortunately shut down due to COVID in December 2020.
Less than a year later, Exeger, the company that brought the solar-power technology to JBL is making a comeback with Urbanista: and this time it’s not a crowdfunding campaign but a finished product stocked on store shelves. Can solar power truly be used to energize a pair of wireless headphones for infinite playtime? Let’s dive in to find out.
The earcups of the Los Angeles is almost identical with the Miami (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)
Urbanista Los Angeles = Solar Powered Miami
Miami (Hands-on review can be read here) was Urbanista’s flagship over-ear headphone, while Los Angeles is – as far as I can see, a solar-powered version of it. The earcups of the two headphones are essentially the same, same cushions, same controls and the same solid telescopic arms.
Identical earpads as the Miami (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)
However that’s where the differences in hardware end, as the Los Angeles replaces the cushy headband of the Miami with a wider headband, which features the patented Powerfoyle solar cell material on top.
The material from the fellow Swedish sustainable energy tech company looks nothing like the conventional solar cells – there’s no grids, no shiny panels, but a low-sheen black surface that can visually pass for ordinary plastic.
The Powerfoyle solar cell is flexible and looks nothing like the conventional mirror-like cells (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)
Towards the Future with Highly Efficient Solar Cells
Despite the ordinary appearance of the top surface of the Los Angeles headband, it is literally the point of difference that sets it apart from all other headphones in the market. This ‘Lux Capacitor’ (Excuse the Back to the Future reference) being exposed to the right amount of light has the ability to match and even exceed the power consumption of heavy headphone usage.
For the ‘doubting Thomas’ out there – which is to be expected for any sort of envelope-pushing technology like this – Urbanista has made the solar power feature more convincing through its own app. The Urbanista app shows both the consumption and power generation …….