Renogy is a company that knows solar power. They've won multiple awards over the years and after working with their Phoenix Generator it's easy to see why.
The Phoenix is a briefcase-style generator with two ten watt monocrystalline solar panels charging a 16Ah li-ion battery. The battery should be good to about 1,500 charges and is replaceable. We quickly took to calling it the nuclear football, after the briefcase with the nuclear launch instructions that accompanies the president at all times, because of its imposing looks and 13.5lb curb weight.
But the Phoenix is a peaceful creature, with the capability to provide clean solar power in the field for extended periods of time. Looking at the unit from the front, there is a power button underneath the comfy, rubberized handle. Turning the unit on gives you a batter charge indicator, and when you open the lid and place it facing the sun it gives you a little icon that tells you how powerful the solar charging effect is. This is a very handy feature lets you orient the unit for maximum efficiency. Also on the front are buttons to enable AC and DC output, both of which beep loudly when activated. The Phoenix takes about 8 hours to charge via AC, or 2-3 days via solar depending on sun conditions.
On the left side of the unit is a plastic door that drops open to reveal power inputs. The door has a seal that looks to confer some dust resistance, but it would have been nice to see something approaching true waterproof-level protection for these parts. Inputs include AC, cigarette adapter, and two inputs that allow two additional external solar panels to be hooked up for up to 100W additional power. There is also a bright LED flashlight that switches between high, low and flashing modes. The flashlight button also beeps loudly when pressed.
On the right side a similar door opens to reveal a standard 3-prong AC outlet, cigarette outlet, two DC outlets and four USB ports. The Phoenix comes with a loose mess of cords, including AC, cigarette and MC4 to DC power input cords as well as a light bulb socket and nifty combo micro USB/Lightning cable.
The Phoenix will give you about 3-5 charges for a laptop, 8 charges for an iPad and 30 for an iPhone. There are a lot of ways to compare portable power options, but here's the bottom line: the Renogy Phoenix is competitive with all the other options out there. The cons are that it's expensive, not as tough as we would like, and heavy. The pros are that it holds a buttload of power, it recharges via solar and it has great flexibility with both input and output options. The optimal application would be someone who is spending extended periods of time off the grid and requires frequent power for small and medium electronics. Basecamps/cabins, scientific/photographic expeditions and remote construction sites all come to mind.
If any of those describe you, the Phoenix is your bird.