Anyone who’s been around the site by now should now I’m a self professed gadget freak. PDA’s, digital cameras, Game Boy Advance, etc. I’m addicted to all sorts of electronic gizmos and trinkets. The biggest problem with this kind of addiction is supporting your habit, and if you’re talking about electronics then that means batteries.
At the rate I was going through batteries, especially with my digital camera, a battery charger and rechargeable batteries rapidly became a necessity. I picked up a typical charger and set of Nickel Cadmium batteries that I’ve been using for the past year and half or so. It works fine, but it does take about 7 or 8 hours to charge up 4 AA’s, and I’ve noticed the batteries seem to have taken a memory set and don’t last as long as they used too.
Enter the Rayovac 1 Hour NiMH Charger.
As our world gets more and more electronics-oriented and portable doo-dads become more indispensable, the need for batteries continues to grow. Not just that, but the need for better batteries grows as well. PDA’s and digital cameras require more juice than portable radios and flashlights, and having them last longer doesn’t hurt either.
Rayovac seems to be addressing the issue with their Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries and their new 1 Hour Charger. The batteries themselves are a good leap ahead of the old Alkaline batteries and even the rechargeable Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries. How so? First, Rayovac is claiming that these NiMH’s will last 2 times longer than any alkaline battery out there, including the “premium” brands such as the Duracell Ultra M3, Energizer e2, etc. and six times longer than a standard Duracell battery. Second, these batteries won’t take a memory set and can be recharged up to 1000 times. This is a big change over NiCd’s and rechargeable alkalines. I probably have around 20 recharges on my old NiCd’s, and they’ve clearly taken a set at only partial capacity and have pretty dismal battery life any more.
Better batteries are great in and of themselves, but the charger aspect of this setup is what makes this really impressive. The 1 Hour Charger holds either 4 AA or AAA batteries and will fully charge them all in an hour or less (depending on remaining charge), or charge one 9 volt battery in 2-3 hours. In a departure from many other chargers, you can even mix and match battery sizes and charge a mixture of AA, AAA and a 9 volt at the same time. The charger will also work with NiCd’s although at a slower charging speed (NiCd’s aren’t designed for the same rapid charge speed that the NiMH’s are). You cannot mix NiCd’s and NiMH’s at the same time though because of this.
Considering the typical 7-8 hour recharge time of most NiCd and alkaline chargers, this is pretty impressive. Even if you forget to check your batteries until the morning you’re ready to go somewhere, you probably still have time to throw them in the charger and have them ready by the time you’ve showered and grabbed a quick breakfast! No time for that even? Rayovac has an optional DC cigarette lighter adapter that’ll let you charge the batteries in the car on your way to work.
The 1 Hour Charger comes packaged with all the basics to get you started — the charger unit itself, the power supply, one pair of NiMH AA batteries, and a short manual describing the units proper use and a warranty card.
Performance and Conclusion
I’ve been using the Rayovac 1 Hour Charger and batteries for about 2 months now. I’ve used it predominantly with my my Olympus C-2100 digital camera but have also tried the batteries in various and sundry electronics devices such as my old HP C200 camera, flashlights, my Game Boy Advance, etc. While the batteries worked fine in all of these, Rayovac has some specific recommendations for what they’ll work best in.
Due to the nature of the batteries, NiMH’s will slowly lose their charge over a period of time so Rayovac recommends their use in high drain devices where you swap batteries frequently such as digital cameras, MP3 players etc. For low drain items, such as flashlights and radios where it’s common to leave batteries sit for long periods of time unused, they recommend sticking with alkalines. It’s sort of a trade off I suppose: actual useful life of NiMH’s is much better than traditional batteries, but shelf life isn’t as good. On the plus side, the batteries charge up quick when you do need them! You can also leave them sit in the charger when not in use and a trickle charge will keep the batteries topped off and ready for use when you need them.
The actual recharging works just as advertised, fast and easy. Just pop the 4 AA’s in the charger, plug it into the wall and walk away. Come back an hour later (or in most cases less if the batteries aren’t fully drained) and you’ve got nice freshly charged batteries! That’s a far cry from my previous NiCd battery charger. I’ve probably dropped my two sets of NiMH batteries in and out of the charger a couple dozen times throughout testing so far, and they’ve been done in under an hour every time. Which brings up a good point: how do you know when the batteries are charged? Real simple. When you put dead, or partially drained batteries in the charger, a green light goes on (see pic above). When they’re charged, the light goes out. That’s all there is to it.
The claims to longer battery life appear to be true as well. I’ve had very good results from both the Rayovac factory NiMH batteries and the NiMH’s that came with my Olympus camera. For instance, I put a set of freshly charged batteries in my camera before I went away on my 2 week Annual Tour for Reserves this past month. I used the camera pretty frequently for both work and while off duty during that time, including a lot of previewing on the LCD screen, and I didn’t have to charge the batteries once. I took the charger with me expecting to have to use it but it wasn’t necessary.
When I returned from my trip, we had the “Wings Over Pittsburgh” air show going on at out at the airbase, and I brought the camera out again for that and forgot to recharge them that morning. Naturally the batteries finally decided to give out soon after getting to the show! I couldn’t really gripe after having used them steady for 2 weeks, so I bought a set of regular Energizer alkaline batteries there and used them throughout the day, taking maybe 60-70 pictures and doing a little bit of previewing on the LCD. When I pulled the camera out 2 days later to take some pictures for an upcoming review, they were already dead! I think Rayovac’s claims of NiMH’s lasting at least twice as long as other premium batteries and 6 times as longer as standard batteries is easily proven true.
So, what was my overall impression of the Rayovac 1 Hour Charger? I’m very impressed with both the NiMH batteries and the charger itself. Rayovac has a great combo here that’s a must-have for any heavy battery users out there. In the 2 months I’ve been testing this unit, I’ve found the batteries to be significantly better than the NiCd’s I’d been using the past couple of years, and the charger to be light years ahead of the 7-8 hour wait required with my other units. Retail price on the charger is $39.99 and batteries are $12.99 for a 4 pack of AA’s or AAA’s. This really isn’t bad at all when you consider you can recharge them up to a 1000 times! You’ll easily end up saving money in the long run and getting better battery performance to boot. I’d highly recommend this unit to anyone using high drain electronics devices like digital cameras, MP3 players and the like.
For great battery life, and convenient quick charging capability, I give the Rayovac 1 Hour Charger and NiMH batteries a hearty Bjorn3d Seal of Approval!