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The best smart charger I've tried yet
on December 4, 2008
The "Tenergy Speedy Box" (aka "Ni-Cd & Ni-MH Computer Controlled Smart Charger" Model BC-1HU) is, as of this writing, the best (and one of the fastest) smart chargers I've owned yet.
* CAPACITY: it has 2 groups of charging bays. The first (located in it's upper right corner) can handle two 9v batteries. The second (under it's silver lid) can handle 4 of any combination of the following types: AAA, AA, C, D. The charger can handle both NiCad and NiMHi.
* ERGONOMICS: There's no need to toggle any switches in order to handle different types of batteries ... the charger's CPU automatically detects the size and type (NiCad or NiMHi) of any given battery placed into any individual charging slot, and it automatically adjusts the charging curve for that slot to the optimum method ... and you can mix and match different types of batteries in different cells, and it will individually charge and monitor each one independantly.
* SPEED: Because this charger is truly 'smart', it can quickly sense when a battery has reached full charge and switch that one battery to standby (the LED for that battery will change from Red to Green) ... which really helps extend battery life by avoiding unnecessary overcharging (esp when the power blinks and would otherwise trigger another full charging pass in many older 'dumb' chargers). The only battery type that takes an unusually long time is the 9v, but that's probably true of all chargers.
* I wish the two 9v charging slots each had their own individual charge status LED (like the other 4 slots in the main bay do). Other than that, I'm very happy with this unit. Waxing philosophical for a moment - it'd be nice if someone would make a true "universal" charger that could also handle things like IPods, Cellphones, Car Batteries, etc. (each whith they own connecting adaptor), but that sort of technology convergence is still a ways off in the future.
Highly recommended - I've owned mine since early 2006.
Also recommended are the Tenergy 2600 mAh AA batteries, which have very good capacity and lifespan. I use them in everything that can handle the slightly decreased voltage inherent in rechargeables. This charger, and my batteries, have already paid for themselves several times over. Newer users will reach their break-even point even faster than I did, because this charger's price is now (as of this writing) less than half what it cost me when it first came out.
UPDATE 2014: This unit has since gotten a bit long in the tooth. My current fave charger is the Lacrosse BC-700, which is faster, smarter, and is vastly better at testing and reconditioning batteries ... the only drawback is that it can't handle D or 9V's, and if a battery is drained so completely that it has 0v left, the BC-700 sometimes cant detect it.