Rayovac 1-Hour Charger and NiMH Batteries
Battery technology has been evolving and it's barely kept pace with the ever-increasing deluge of products hungrily awaiting a power source. From the latest gizmo or gadget, there are tons of devices that are finding their way into our homes and workplaces and they are constantly in need of rejuvenation. Rechargeable batteries have always been an option, but the capacity of the earlier NiCad (nickel cadmium) type batteries has left a little to be desired. The newer NiMH (nickel metal-hydride) batteries have helped out in the capacity department and now with even higher capacities, this might just be the time to buy your last set of batteries for a long, long time. (At least 1000 times worth!)
I recently purchased a new digital camera and I discovered it's insatiable desire for electrons when preserving my families memories. Unfortunately memories don't always come at a time when it's convenient to run down to the local five and dime for another stock up of batteries. I started on a hunt for batteries on the Internet and was resigned to paying some big bucks for good rechargeables, until I happened upon a bright new package at the battery isle. It was for Rayovac rechargeables and it boasted a 1600 mAh capacity in the standard AA size. I had seen similar batteries direct from the manufacturer (Sanyo in one case - I'm unsure who Rayovac uses for a supplier) for $3.25 a price, so at $10.97 at Wal-Mart a package of four batteries was looking like a really good buy.
The downfall of any rechargeable battery has to be it's down time during recharging. In the past you went to find the device short on power and a recharge was another 14+ hour wait in typical fashion. I went to Rayovac's web site and noticed they were advertising a new 1 hour charger. I checked the local store shelves and came up empty. It turns out that the charger is a very new product and after many exhaustive trips I finally was able to snag a freshly stocked battery charger, again at the local Wal-Mart. The charger is $29.97 and comes with 2 - AA batteries of 1600 mAh capacity. The charger is unique from most chargers that I researched in that it charges each battery independently, and in a amazingly quick 60 minutes.
The charger operation is fairly straightforward. You select what type of batteries you are charging, whether NiCad or NiMH type (only one type can be charged at a time). Next you plug the power pack into the wall, it's a hefty 12 volt DC unit with 1.5 amp capacity. Or you can use the 12VDC car cigarette plug if you're mobile. Once the unit is plugged in you insert your batteries. The unit will only charge NiCad or NiMH batteries, so don't look to stick any thing else in there (like alkaline rechargeables). The unit can charge one, two, three or four AA or AAA size batteries or one single 9-volt battery. The cylindrical batteries are inserted into the bottom of the unit and then they slide in at the top in a slightly fanned out arrangement. A green LED will light to indicate charging has begun. All new batteries will have to be charged and my tests on 10 AA and 8 AAA all revealed charging times within 1 minute of each other from start to finish. I'm waiting for a few more discharge/charge cycles to get an accurate mAh (milli-amp hour) rate.
With a product so new I'm still waiting on the newness to wear out to see how well I like the setup. The charger has been very quick and efficient in charging the batteries. The batteries will get quite warm to the touch, as well as the charger. The charger has ventilation slots that should be kept clear of any obstructions. The unit has mounting "hook-n-slide" holes for easy wall mounting. I'm still busily clicking through digital snapshots to see exactly what the batteries have in them, but I can certainly say that my local five-and-dime battery supplier has wondered if he's offended me. It's pretty bad when you were on a first name with the clerks at the check-out isle. As always, please dispose of your old-school NiCads by using a recycle drop-off point at a store or other hazardous waste handler. You can think of all that green you'll be saving over the next 1000 charges of your new batteries as you try to make new friends at other establishments.
I've been using the Rayovac 1-Hour Battery Charger since August 2001, and I can honestly say that it's lived up to all my expectations. The charger has already recharged my Rayovac 1600maH NIMH batteries countless times and has never left me flat. The 1600 batteries do an excellent job powering my Olympus C-3000 3.4 Megapixel camera. I give the Rayovac Charger a rating of 4.75 (out of a possible 5) digicams. (Note from Steve: This charger can be used with the newer and higher capacity NiMH batteries such as 1800-2100mAh cells. Just expect longer charge times.)
(BTW: Sometime soon I'll run all my NiMH batteries through my computerized cell matcher to see how they have fared with capacity over the past months of usage. I had a lot to take photos of this April:www.captureddigitalmemories.com/katie)