Tokyo gadget purveyor Thanko has been responsible for everything from neckties with cooling fans to USB hubs disguised as gold bars, so it’s a relief to see the practical nature of its latest piece of kit – a solar-powered media player.

Splash ¥9,980 (£48) in Thanko’s online store and you’ll get the Solar MP4 Multi Player, a 70g PMP with a 176 x 220-pixel colour screen on one side and a fold-out solar panel on the other.

Odd movie choices

For the price, 4GB of internal memory is pretty impressive, plus there’s an SD card expansion slot as well. Supported file formats are an odd mix – MP3, WMA and WAV on the audio front, but a video selection that includes RMVB and DAT for some reason. At least it can handle AVI movies.

The real attraction, of course, is the solar panel – it can deliver about 35 minutes of audio playback after an hour exposed to a clear – not necessarily sunny – sky. The same period yields 15 minutes of video playback.

As you’d expect, the player can also charge via USB (or a mains adapter) so, considering that the same connection is used to transfer data, we’d expect most folk to charge it that way.

Gimmicks aside, there’s still more up Thanko’s sleeve in the form of an FM radio and a voice recorder. Throw in an onboard 10mW speaker and we reckon you have a nifty little unit that might suit the kids.