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.
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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.