Apple’s Magical + Revolutionary, Uh, Battery Charger Unboxed | iLounge Backstage

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Apple’s Magical + Revolutionary, Uh, Battery Charger Unboxed

Hey! It’s the new $29 Apple Battery Charger! The one introduced last week alongside the Magic Trackpad, enabling AA cell users to stop buying disposable batteries for 10 years*—once every two or so months, if you’re a Magic Mouse user—in favor of swapping between these six silver rechargeable beauties.

Click on the title or the Read More link for more pictures and details.

The white cardboard box arrived a little dirty on one side—very unusual for an Apple product.

 

Three sets of AA batteries are included in the package, along with one white glossy plastic charger, two total instruction and warning packets, and a cardboard sleeve to hold all of the parts together. Apple’s Battery Charger instruction manual looks thicker than the one for the iPod shuffle… but that’s just because it’s multilingual.

 

“At least five hours of charging time” are requested for a full charge of either one or two of the nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries the Charger can handle at once. The company specifically disclaims use of the charger for batteries other than NiMH ones—not surprisingly, there’s a “risk of explosion” if you put the wrong type of battery inside, such as non-rechargeable alkaline, lithium, or NiCad cells.

 

The blades detach as in most of Apple’s wall chargers (save for the most recent iPhone USB Power Adapters sold in the U.S. and several other countries), enabling the use of alternate international blades.

 

On the top, there’s a two-color light: solid amber means it’s charging, flashing amber means there’s a problem with the batteries or their installation (positive up, negative down), green means it’s charged and ready, and no light means either that the batteries are “too deeply discharged to register immediately” or that the batteries are charged and that the green indicator light has shut off after six hours.

 

Those little interesting light changes indicate some of the engineering that went into the Battery Charger: it’s not just your typical off-the-shelf part. The light management system is one of several power-saving features that Apple is touting as reducing the Charger’s “vampire draw,” or continued leeching of current even when the batteries are fully charged and just sitting there waiting for you. It’ll be interesting to see whether that 10 year claim is even vaguely approached by the cells, which are specced as Made in Japan “AA Ni-MH Min. 1900 mAh 1.2V HR6” units, for battery fiends out there. In any case, we’ll be using them with the Wireless Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse from here on out.

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Comments

1

Onky 1900 mAh? I’ve got Duracells 2700 and they ain’t good. Magic Mouse lasts on them maybe three, four weeks.

Posted by alfagta on August 3, 2010 at 11:12 AM (CDT)

2

You shouldn’t use 2700 mAh cells in the magic mouse.

Cells with high mAhs also have a high self discharge rate - your 2700 duracells would be dead after 6 weeks of just sitting around because they have such a high discharge rate.  These kind of cells are only good for applications (such as digital camera usage) where you can charge them up the day before, and then basically exhaust them during the day.  Because of their high discharge rate, they are not good for applications where you need a little amount of power for a long time.

What you need are low self discharge (LSD) cells, like Sanyo eneloops.  (Many people think that the Apple cells are actually eneloops).  LSD cells have around 2000 mAhs, but will keep 85% of their charge for a year (and 75% for 2 years).  These cells are a much better choice for any application where the cells won’t be recharged every week.  (If you look up eneloop on Amazon, you’ll find everything you need to know about the cells).

Posted by PeterWimsey on August 3, 2010 at 2:52 PM (CDT)

3

Interesting testing note: after less than a day and a half in the Magic Trackpad, the “Trackpad battery level” indicator in Mac OS X shows 93% remaining charge from a set of batteries that were filled to 100% before first use. The Energizers that came with the Magic Trackpad started at 100% and took 6 days to reach 94% remaining, suggesting that Apple’s rechargeables will require more frequent swapping than the disposables it includes.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on August 4, 2010 at 3:06 PM (CDT)

4

Remember, NiMH have a lower initial voltage than alkaline or lithium cells, and that capacity gauges use voltage to estimate charge capacity.  NiMH drop from 1.4 volts or so to 1.2 and stay there until they’re flat dead, under modest loads (like bluetooth mice/trackpads). 

Give it a shot before you knock it; I have some Sanyo Eneloops in a Razer bluetooth mouse that I have yet to pull out and recharge since I put them in there a good while back.

Posted by Chrontius on August 4, 2010 at 8:16 PM (CDT)

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