Many tech-related blogs and online news sources have already weighed in on the Apple battery charger (ourselves included). All in all, very little was agreed upon in the media regarding the advent of Apple becoming a peddler of NiMH rechargeable battery technology: Apple detractors derided the company for apparently re-branding Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries, while others lauded the Apple battery charger as the first truly “green” battery charger on the market. Given the polarizing effect that Apple products have on the tech market, you’re not bound to find much consensus on anything Steve Jobs rolls out, even if it is as lowly as a battery charger.
That being said, Apple’s claim about their charger being a “smart battery charger” needs to be challenged a bit, and compared with what constitutes a smart battery charger currently on the market today.
There’s no doubt that Apple’s marketing department has sought to characterise their battery charger as a “smart” charger. One of their sub-heads on the battery charger page is none other than “The smarter way to charge.” Citing features such as having the lowest “vampire draw” of any other battery charger on the market and the ability to maximise a rechargeable battery’s lifespan, Apple concludes that these features make the Apple battery charger a “smart” charger.
In the world of rechargeable batteries and battery chargers, however, it takes more than a low energy draw and some eco-friendly words to earn the right to place “smart” before “battery charger.”
Elsewhere in the battery charger market, you’ll see that the difference between a standard battery charger and smart battery charger is significant. In another article, we outline the specifics of what makes a smart battery charger “smart,” but in short, let’s take a quick look at the difference between Energizer’s “Intelligent Charger” and their “Easy Charger.” while the Easy Charger simply offers green and red LED lights to allow users to know when a battery is done charging, the Intelligent Charger features a nifty “Digital Countdown Clock” that lets users know how much longer will it be before their batteries are fully charged.
The Intelligent Charger also features a “Digital Fuel Gauge” that lets you know how much energy is currently in an NiMH rechargeable battery — a great feature, since most electronics cannot accurately track how much power is left in an NiMH rechargeable battery. Adding to this, there is also a “Battery Indicator” that lets the user know when it is time to buy new rechargeable batteries.
And, like the Apple battery Charger, a smart charger like the Intelligent Charger offers overcharge protection, which automatically shuts down the device once the batteries are fully charged. As you can see, a true “smart” battery charger offers a great deal more functionality than Apple’s battery charger.
Vapex, for example, offers a smart battery charger that is comparable to the Energizer Intelligent Charger. The Vapex charger features large LCD Indicators that display the charging process, a smart 12 bit microprocessor designed to increase rechargeable battery lifespan, an auto charging current selection, 4 channel independent temperature control, voltage monitoring, a safety timer, overload, overheat, and over voltage protection. And similar to Apple’s claims, the Vapex charger also features a Delta V Control that detects when batteries are fully charged and switches to trickle charge to avoid over charging.
And the fact is, all of these smart battery chargers are priced around the same as the Apple battery charger.
To be fair, Apple’s battery charger does offer one pretty “smart” idea: you can charge 6 AA or AAA batteries at once, and in a very small, compact charger — many smart chargers only charge 4 batteries at a time. but while this may be a smart idea on Apple’s part, it does not raise their battery charger to the level of “smart.”
If you are someone who simply must have everything Apple, then rest assured that the Apple battery charger is indeed a high-quality device. But if you are looking specifically for a smart battery charger, it’s best to check out the ones made by Vapex, Sanyo Eneloop, Energizer, or others before looking at Apple.
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