Bottom line: The BioLite stove worked as promised, and was fun to use. It produces continuous power of around 2 watts at the standard 5 volts of a USB cord. For a solar panel to produce the same energy, the panel would have to be about 26 square inches in size—quite a lot of glass to lug around in your pack. Typical hand-crank generators for powering lights and radios do not produce enough amperage to charge a cell phone.
Of course, you have to have wood around. You wouldn’t bring the Biolite mountaineering, however, where you're above tree line, or to spots where wood is scarce. (Plus, it weighs 2 pounds, 1 ounce.) If you’re in Brooklyn, where finished oak is plentiful, then you wouldn’t have a problem. But for camping in woody areas, it’s a fun process to make your own electricity in order to enjoy some of the comforts of home.