Sony BCG34HRE4KN Cycle Energy Quick with Refresh Charger and 4 Pre-Charged 2000 mAh AA Batteries (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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- 1000 times rechargeable
- Lasts 3 times longer than alkaline
- Low self discharge rate
- 4 hour charge time
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This item Sony BCG34HRE4KN Cycle Energy Quick with Refresh Charger and 4 Pre-Charged 2000 mAh AA Batteries (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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|Item Dimensions||4 x 5 x 1.5 in||3 x 2 x 5 in||1.5 x 3 x 5.1 in||1.54 x 5.67 x 3.86 in||3.03 x 7.09 x 1.1 in|
Sony Quick Charger with Refresh Function's compact design with flip down plug and worldwide voltage allows for charging batteries anywhere. Can charge up to 4 AA or 4 AAA rechargeable Ni-MH batteries. Includes 4 AA Pre-charged, ready-to-use right out of the package batteries. Lasts 3x longer than Alkaline.
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First, the common features for both chargers:
+ Streamlined one-piece unit with fold-in AC plugs - No need for power cords or wall-adapters!
+ Low profile design (just 1.2" thick) - Easy to fit in camera bags.
+ Accepts universal AC voltage (100-240V) - Great as travel charger.
+ Smart charger that monitors and charges each cell individually - Unlike most cheaper chargers that force you to charge in pairs only.
+ Reasonably fast charging - Charging current=1050mA for 1-2 AA cells, 640mA for 1-2 AAA cells (for 3-4 cells, the current is reduced by half). That translates to about 2 hours for 1-2 AA cells, 4 hours for 3-4 AA. This is a good balance between shorter charge time and longer battery lifespan.
In addition, the new model (BCG34HRE) offers the following features:
++ Individual battery status indicators. Let's say you're charging two AA and two AAA cells together. You can tell when the AAA cells are fully charged, and start using them right away. (Previous model has just one status indicator, which changes color only when ALL cells are fully charged)
++ You can now charge 1-4 cells, in any combinations of AA/AAA cells. (Previous model can charge 1-4 AA cells, but only 1-2 AAA cells)
++ There is a 'Refresh' function. It works by fully discharging all cells, then fully recharging them again. This can be used when you suspect some of your cells are suffering from reduced capacity.
[Aside: It is not necessary to run a discharge before every recharge. Such practice is a left-over from the days of dumb chargers. With a smart charger, you can top-off your batteries anytime, without fully discharging them first.]
The included SONY Cycle Energy 'Pre-Charged' AA cells are low-self-discharge NiMH type, similar to SANYO eneloop and Rayovac Hybrid. That means all the good things you heard about eneloop and Hybrid are true for SONY Pre-Charged cells, too. They are advertised to have a capacity of '2100mAh typical, 2000mAh minimum', and a lifespan of '1000 cycles'. Note that the 1st-gen Sanyo eneloop cells are also rated for 1000 cycles, while the 2nd-gen eneloop cells claim to achieve 1500 cycles. But realistically, most users will probably never experience this perceived benefit.
I highly recommend getting this package over similar packages such as Sanyo Eneloop 4 Pack AA with Charger. The main reason is that: the SONY charger is much better than the Sanyo MQN06 4-cell charger included in eneloop packages. The MQN06 is too slow (approximately 7 hour charge time), and can only charge in pairs. As of this writing, this SONY package is the only one that combines a high-quality smart charger with proven name-brand low-self-discharge batteries. You can use this SONY charger to recharge Sanyo eneloop or any other brands of NiMH cells, too.
[Update on July 6, 2011]
I need to point out one drawback of this Sony charger. Due to its compact design and relatively high charging current, batteries can become toasty hot _if_ the charger missed termination signal (negative dV/dt) - especially with the charger cover closed. I did an experiment by charging four nearly full Rayovac 4.0 Hybrid AA cells together (this is to force the worst-case scenario where all batteries are being over-charged), and measured the cell temperature with an infrared thermometer. The highest temperature recorded was 62 degree C, which is too hot to hold for most people. Note that this will NOT happen if you recharge partially exhausted cells (because then the charger can terminate correctly by detecting negative dV/dt). But to be safe, I recommend charging with the cover open or removed.
[Update on Oct 9, 2016]
Instead of old Sony chargers listed in my review above, you may want to consider new Panasonic eneloop chargers:
Both are Smart chargers with individual charging channels and status indicators.
La Crosse Technology BC-700 Alpha Power Battery Charger. As it turned out, the LaCrosse "agreed", that the 2/3s of the "bad" batteries had less than 1/4 of their original capacity, or the voltage after a full charge was 1.2v or less, or could not charge them for some other reason. I managed to rehabilitate some batteries (which the Sony still doesn't like), but not as many as I expected. I now use the LaCrosse for my routine recharging, and the Sony as my travel charger, since it is much more compact. RECOMMENDATION: You'll get a little more life out of your batteries with the LaCrosse, but the Sony is much more convenient. I recommend just going with the Sony.
The Sony BCG34HRE4KN is a "smart" charger. Similar looking "dumb" chargers simply charge your batteries for a given amount of time, whether they need it or not, whether they are accepting the charge or not, and you have to charge at least 2 batteries of the same kind at a time. Instructions warn you to use and charge batteries in matched pairs---which is impossible if your electronic devices use 1 or 3 batteries.
The Sony BCG34HRE4KN is the only "smart" charger I have seen for less than about $40. It actually tests your individual batteries (any number or type) as it charges. If they only need to be "topped off", then the smart charger only "tops off". If they are high-capacity batteries that need a longer charge, they will be fully charged. If you only need to charge one battery---that's okay. If the batteries are not holding a charge, the charger tells you so. The "refresh" function allows you to rehabilitate older batteries that have lost most of their capacity by being charged in "dumb" chargers.
Does it work with other batteries?
The Sony Cycle Energy batteries are low-discharge NiMH batteries. Instructions on the box read "Charge only rechargeable AA or AAA Nickel Metal Hydride type rechargeable batteries". Apparently the charger will charge any brand of NiMH batteries, whether "ordinary" or "low discharge". I have successfully refreshed and charged old Kodak, Duracell, and Panasonic AA and AAA ordinary NiMH batteries. Caveat, the Sony charger refuses to charge some of my older (mostly Duracell) batteries which seem fine.
Refreshing older batteries:
According to the instructions, a flashing yellow charging light means that the "life" of the battery has "expired". However, I suggest that you interpret a flashing yellow light to mean "clean the contacts and try the refresh cycle". First, thoroughly clean the battery contacts with isoprophyl alcohol, and "shine" them with a rough cotton cloth. If the "refresh and charge" cycle fails three times in a row (i.e., the yellow charging light flashes), then consider the batteries to be "expired". I rehabilitated nearly a dozen old batteries which the charger initially refused to charge by repeated "refresh and charge" cycles until the yellow light finally did not flash.
Build up of heat behind the cover?
The cover is easily removable (indeed, it easily falls off accidentally), and the charger looks like, and functions like, any other 4-cell charger without the cover. So, I suggest just leaving the cover off. The only function it has is apparently to discourage you from accidentally pushing the "refresh" button.
Note that the positive (top) contact is the same for both AA and AAA cells---not a problem, but it surprised me at first when I expected to insert the AAAs deeper. The AAAs sort hang out at a slight angle.
I really like the folding AC plug--it makes the charger much more convenient for travel. It is terrific that I can charge any number or combination of AA and AAA batteries at a time. Sometimes I need to charge 1 AAA, or 2 AAAs and 1 AA at a time. I only wish that it came with plug and cord to allow charging in a car when traveling.
The "instructions" mention the possibility of the contacts of batteries being dirty---a common problem, and why sometimes you have to shake your remote control to make it work. The solution is to treat all of your electrical contacts with silicon grease. Permatex 22058 Dielectric Tune-up Grease - 3 oz. The grease protects the contacts and improves the connection. Recently I saved my computer from a "blue screen of death" by removing the memory boards, coating the contacts with silicon grease, and reinserting them. The computer works perfectly now. It is a good idea to place a dab of silicon grease on the contacts of any device before inserting batteries.
> Click on “Stoney” just below the product title to see my other reviews, or leave a comment to ask a question.
This charger can also charge individual batteries meaning no waiting for another battery to die to charge only one. Sony also has the refresh feature on this charger which will help you restore the life of a rechargable battery not holding its full charge by fulling discharging the battery in the charger and then charging the battery to its full voltage. I have saved a few standard NiMH batteries already using this feature.
The other plus with this package is the Sony branded pre-charged batteries which came with the Eneloop white top on them. Overall, this has to be the best charger and precharger package available including a smart charger with Sony's refresh function and high quality LSD white top batteries.