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Customer Review

1,229 of 1,272 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Showdown: Maha MH-C9000 vs. La Crosse BC-900, September 16, 2007
[Update on Jan 31, 2014]
There is a new contender in the showdown between MH-C9000 and BC-900, the BT-C2000 Battery Charger Tester Analyzer. It combines the best features from both chargers, plus a new 'Quick Test' function. See my review on it for details.

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Original review follows
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I have a La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger since nearly two years ago, and I'm very happy with it. When the Maha Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer was announced, its looked even better on paper than the BC-900. So I also bought the C9000 one month ago. Here is my assessment for those two chargers:

First, let's get the similarities out of the way. Both the BC-900 and the C9000 are powerful battery analyzers/conditioners which can also be used as your everyday battery chargers. Both chargers accept one to four AA or AAA cells with independent charging currents. Both come with universal (100-240V AC) adapter.

Next, the differences:

1. SIZE:
First thing you'll notice is that the Maha C9000 is HUGE for a 4-AA-cell charger. It is about twice as large as the BC-900 (see my Customer Image for size comparison).

Larger size makes the C9000 less suitable as a travel charger. However, as a home charger this is actually an advantage. Extra spacing between cells allows better cooling, and also makes it easier to remove individual cell.

2. CHARGING CURRENT:
The BC-900 can provide charging current from 200 to 1000mA for 4 cells, or up to 1800mA for two cells. The C9000 can charge from 200 to 2000mA for all four cells. So if you routinely need to charge cells in a hurry, the C9000 is better.

However, due to the complicated key sequences involved (for example, to charge 4 cells at 2000mA, you need to punch in 48 key strokes!), most sane people will probably leave the C9000 at its default current of 1000mA.

3. DISPLAY:
The BC-900 has a 4-column LCD panel that shows the status (capacity, voltage, current, or time) of all four cells either simultaneously, or individually. The C9000 sports a LCD display with back-light. It is BIG, it is BRIGHT, and it works really well - as a NIGHT LIGHT!

The biggest problem with the C9000's display is that it can only show one status for one cell at any one time. It constantly toggles from one status to another, then from one cell to the next. If you have 4 cells in the charger, it takes 48 seconds or more (depending on the current activity) for the display to cycle through all 4 cells. There is also no way to pause the display. So if you missed one reading, you have to wait for it to cycle through again.

4. ANALYZING / CONDITIONING FUNCTIONS:
The BC-900 has an easy-to-use 'DISCHARGE/REFRESH' function that can be used to recondition old cells. The C9000 has a similar function called 'CYCLE', but it is very tedious to use (see the USER INTERFACE section for details).

In addition, the C9000 also has a 'BREAK-IN' mode which supposedly should be applied to new cells before first use, or to really old cells that have not been charged for years. Beware that this operation takes at least 39 hours to complete, so I doubt many people would actually use it.

5. DEAD CELL DETECTION:
If a cell is completely drained (battery terminal voltage drops below 0.5V), the BC-900 thinks it is shorted and therefore refuses to charge it. This has caused a lot of frustrations among users, but there is a way to work around it (see my BC-900 Customer Image for details). The C9000 is smarter in this aspect. If the battery terminal voltage is too low, it automatically starts charging at 125mA until the voltage rises above 1V, then it continues with the programmed charging current.

The C9000 also measures battery internal resistance when a cell is first inserted. If the user inserts an alkaline cell (which has much higher internal resistance), the C9000 displays 'HIGH' and refuses to charge it. This is a good safety feature, except that it also incorrectly rejected most of my NiMH cells bought four or five years ago. So I cannot use the C9000 to charge or recondition those old cells, even though the BC-900 reports that they still have around 1000mAh of capacity left.

6. USER INTERFACE:
With the BC-900, you can select the operation and current for all cells simultaneously, or you can change them indivdually by using the cell-selection buttons. The only limitation is that once the charging current is fixed, you cannot subsequently select a larger current without removing all cells.

The C9000 has four completely independent charging circuits that can be programmed to different currents. This may sound great at first, but in practice it soon becomes a burden, because you often need to press dozens of key stokes to program all four cells.

For example: If you want to recondition four cells on the BC-900, you'll go through the following sequence:
- insert in all 4 cells at once
- press MODE to select DISCHARGE/REFRESH (2 keystrokes*)
- press CURRENT to select charging current (2-3 keystrokes)
* Note: need to press and hold MODE for ~3 seconds for the first keystroke

On the C9000, you can insert in all 4 cells at once, but you have to program them one at a time. Which means:
- press UP/DOWN to select 'CYCLE', then 'ENTER' (2-5 key strokes)
- press UP/DOWN to select charging current, ENTER (1-11 key strokes)
- press UP/DOWN to select discharging current, ENTER (1-6 key strokes)
- press UP/DOWN to select number of cycles, ENTER (1-13 key strokes)
Congratulations! You just finished programming the first cell. Now repeat that for the other three cells.

BOTTOM LINE:
The Maha MH-C9000 is, without a doubt, the most powerful NiMH AA battery analyzer/charger in the consumer market. However, certain design issues (such as a single-status LCD panel and ridiculously long programming sequences) make it difficult to use for multiple cells. For most of my routine charging and maintenance of NiMH cells, I'll continue to use my old La Crosse BC-900.

Nevertheless, I don't regret buying the C9000, because it was a lot of fun for me to try out all its functions. Plus I now have a really cool (but expensive) night light.

[Update on July 17, 2012]
1. Recently the price of Maha C9000 has fallen below that of the La Crosse BC-1000 (replacement model for BC-900). So I consider the Maha a better value now.

2. I just published the "Maha MH-C9000 FAQ" here:
http://www.amazon.com/review/RZCMBYAN3QKN3/
Please take a look and give suggestions on what other topics I should include.
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Comments

Tracked by 22 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 160 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 29, 2007 2:08:41 AM PDT
Wow, this review was exactly what I was looking for trying to decide between the Maha and the La Crosse. I'm going with La Crosse which sounds like it has a much more reasonable interface (but still has way more features than my Maha MH-C401FS). Since some of my batteries have gone only around 100 cycles and are flashing the red LED on my current charger, I am never charging at a high rate again, so I can save money by going with the La Crosse LC-BC700 instead of the BC900 mentioned in this post. Thanks for the very informative review.

Posted on Oct 22, 2007 5:50:34 AM PDT
A. hafez says:
u dont have to wait all the displaying cycle of C9000.if u want to see the information of a specific slot simply press button "slot" tmake it displayed

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2007 6:32:40 AM PDT
Pressing 'slot' makes the display jump to the next cell, but it always start from cell capacity (mAh) status. So if you want to see the voltage of a cell, you still need to wait patiently for the display to scroll through
mAh -> mA -> min. -> V

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2007 6:00:17 PM PST
Bob Logan says:
Despite your exagerated description of button pushing, I purchased the C9000 from a third party and found it to be a very well built charger. I don't seem to have to press nearly as many buttons as your review implied. When a new battery is found, the charger seems to know what to do, or give me the option of making changes. I actually find the continuous review of how each battery is progressing helpful. My only complaint is that it would cycle through faster.

Posted on Nov 17, 2007 10:30:12 AM PST
C. Butler says:
NLee, thank you for your extremely thorough evaluation of the Maha and the LaCrosse chargers. You've helped me make a decision (I'll go with the simpler option b/c sometimes less is more, although I can see how monitoring the progress of each cell would be important, I just don't have the time to invest in watching my cells charge as I did when I was younger). In any case, the information in this review was just what I was looking for. Grazie!

Posted on Dec 1, 2007 10:51:47 AM PST
Strohmian says:
Nlee, I have to hand it to you for purchasing a unit just so you could review and compare it :) I don't quite agree with your final preference or description of the hassle to program the Maha; for me, all seems to be quite intuitive, and the keystrokes, if required, are repetitive. Everyting is well thought out, with the most important options being offered first (for example, as you mention, when you press slot, you get the capacity; frankly, what do you want with the voltage?). But I do concur that it would be better to see batteries' status at a glance.

Also, I agree about the night light. Those 5 Watt Luxeons must have been cheap at the time this unit was designed! :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2007 9:25:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2007 9:30:13 PM PST
R.C. Stoecklin,
I have dozens of rechargeable cells in the house, so I can always use another smart charger. As I said in my review, the MH-C9000 is more powerful compared to the BC-900, just that it is not as easy to use. Of course since I have used the BC-900 for two years, I am obviously more at ease with its user interface. The thing that annoys me is that the MH-C9000 could have been a lot more user-friendly. For example:

1. Why do I always have to program one cell at a time? If I insert 4 cells in one shot, it should allow me to apply the same operation to all cells.

2. Why is the status display always scrolling, with no way to pause or skip to next reading? I would propose the following way to handle it: press ENTER to pause the display, then press Up/Down to see previous/next stautus reading (e.g. Voltage), press SLOT to skip to the same status for next cell (i.e. Voltage).

To answer your question about "who wants to see Voltage reading?" it is a very good indicator on the 'readiness' of the cell. Let's say I'm in the middle of charging 4 cells in the BC-900, but I need to use two cells right now, which two should I take? Easy. I'll just look at the voltages ready across all 4 cells, and pick out the two with higher readings. To do this with the MH-C9000, I have to stare at the display for one minute and also write down all the voltage readings.

I often use for the BC-900 as a simple battery status checker. After a cell is inserted into the charger, the voltage reading comes up right away. If is it above 1.3V, I know that it is fully charged. If it is below 1.2V, it is nearly exhausted. The MH-C9000 will not give me the voltage reading unless I program some operations first.

Posted on Dec 9, 2007 11:19:17 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 9, 2007 11:31:56 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2007 10:54:11 AM PST
Rock on NLee!
I'm going with the BC-900.
NLee, get into car alarms so i can read your reviews on installing them, lol. (My current project now)

Posted on Feb 16, 2008 2:36:20 PM PST
A. hafez says:
hi
how can u read the date code? thank u
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