Anker has a new charger out on the market with the PowerPort III Duo. This is charger has 2 USB-C PD Ports and outputs total of 18W per port or 36W in total. It features Ankers PowerIQ 3.0 technology meaning it optimizes charging rates for your devices for maximum speed. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to check out and do a review on.
YouTube Version of this Review:
Packaging & Accessories
Packaging consists of a rectangular Anker box, that’s white and embossed wither an artistic Anker device pattern, the sides are a nice blue. The back doesn’t have many details about the charger itself, just the model number model name and customer support numbers for the most part. Inside the charger is held in place with a blue cardboard holder, with the manual and happy/no happy card. No cables are included in the package which is a little frustrating.
Specs And Power
As mentioned before this charger features dual 18W USB-C PD ports with Ankers PowerIQ 3.0 technology for a total of 36W.
Input Power is 110-240V and is 50-60Hz capable meaning it’s a good world travel charger.
Output Spec: 5V @ 2.4A
9V @ 2A
12V @ 1.5A
PowerIQ 3.0 allows for universal fast charging compatible up to 100W (Should your device and charger support them). This allows the charger to wok to whatever your device supports, Apple Fast Charge, Samsung Fast Charge, and USB PD.
I only have 1 USB-C to C meter right now and tested it by plugging in a 20,000mAh Anker Powerbank to charge and right away it started charging at 17.46W (8.90v @ 1.96V). I then plugged in my ipad via USB-C to Lightning cable and the ipad was happily charging. There was no change in the powerbank charging so each port is indeed separate. The charger gets a little warm (105F in the warmest spot I could find) while charging both devices at the same time but nothing to worry about.
On a recent trip with this charger I did have 1 complaint while I charged my smartphone and iPad at night and that was the LED in the front was just too bright in my room. Due to how the hotel was configured this unfortunately faced my bed. I was able to easily fix this by a bit of electrical tape though.
I have been using the PowerPort III Duo as a bedside travel charger for my mobile devices and for that it does pretty well. At 18W per port this isn’t enough to charge most laptops but works well for smartphones, tablets, gaming systems and power banks.
It’s a little disappointing to see the lack of gallium nitride charging tech on this charger to make it smaller and or deliver more wattage. That said that technology is still somewhat new and on the more expensive end and this charger is priced more on the budget side. Ankers charger and powerbank naming system is currently a little confusing on the naming structure in my opinion, and it’s a little hard to find the product you need without looking at them all. Some simplification or a different naming system would be appreciated in my opinion.
My conclusion is this is a good charger and if you should buy it really depends on what devices you have and what they support. This is a good general charger for me, it charges my Note 8 phone and iPad as fast as they need. I don’t have a Nintendo Switch and it’s not the fastest charger for one of those if you have one but still will charge it while playing games if needed. There are less expensive higher wattage chargers on the market but they tend to be single port. So this is a good mix of reasonable charge rate, 2 ports, in a still fairly small package (2.5” x 2.5” x 1”). It does also come with Ankers 18 month warranty too should something go wrong.
Anker has a relatively new powerbank on the market with the PowerCore 10000 PD Redux powerbank. This powerbank supports has a premium feel and a cross hatch texture on top. It supports USB-C in and out at a maximum of 18W, as well as USB-A out, and a low power trickle charging mode as well. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to take a quick look at.
The YouTube Version of this Review
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging was standard blue and white and as a compact premium feel. In the box you get the powerbank, a mesh bag, and a USB-C to C cable that’s approximately 3ft long. Everything is covered by Ankers 18 month warranty too.
Let’s talk about the specs of the powerbank here and then I will go into a few more details.
Total Output Power 18W
USB-C Input (PD): DC 5V=3A, 9V=2A, 15V=1.2A
USB-C Output (PD): DC 5V=3A, 9V=2A, 15V=1.2A
USB Output : DC 5V=2.4A
On first glance 18W of total power is a good thing. Given the capacity this will charge most smartphones twice and I have to agree. In charging my Note 8 which recognizes it as fast charging I got 2 charges from between 15-100% no problem. It charges my iPad as well with a USB-C to Lightning cable, and if the charger is above 2 bars, it does so at AC wall speeds. However when the powerbank drops below 2 bars charging speed will decrease down to a much slower rate.
While I don’t have a Nintendo switch to test this myself, this powerbank will charge one, but isn’t compatible with the Switches Charge and Play TV setting. Unfortunately the PowerCore 10000 PD Redux doesn’t have enough wattage to charge most laptops.
Trickle charge mode here is a nice touch. Often times on low power devices like some wireless headphones, fitness tracker, and some small low power keychain style flashlights. Some powerbanks will interpret the small power draw on these devices as the battery being full and shutting off prematurely. This is easy to turn on, just long press on the button before plugging in your device and you will get a green LED light up on the powerbank. Repeat this process to turn it off.
While I don’t have a way to take apart the powerbank I believe what’s inside is 2x 21700 5000mAh batteries. The size is just about right for that. Measured Capacity 5956mAh @ 5v 2A load using my EB Tester for a total of 30.64Wh energy. The stated 10,000mAh capacity doesn’t take into account the losses due to voltage step up or battery sag which really means under absolute idea conditions the capacity would be around an actual 7,500mAh of real energy assuming it’s one battery at a nominal voltage of 3.7V. I am not sure how 2 batteries in series changes that calculation.
Recharging the Powerbank.
You have 1 option to charge the Powerbank and that’s via USB-C. That said it supports input of power via USB-A to C cable (not included) at a rather slow rate of speed of 9 hours, or what I recommend is recharging via a charger that supports USB-C PD and doing so gets you a full powerbank in about 3 hours 23 minutes. During this time I saw the charging speed of 15v @ 1.2A for a total of 18W. While it’s nice to see the backwards compatibility of non PD supported, 9 hours is crazy long time for 10k capacity. I have reviewed a few USB-C chargers with PD support, make sure to check those reviews out if you need one.
Low Power Device Mode (Great for charging up devices pulling small amounts of current like wireless headphones)
15V mode here is hard to find on a 10k mAh powerbank but works here
Makes a great travel package with the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim
Slightly less efficient when compared with other 10k mAh powerbanks I have.
Rather expensive for 10,000mAh in late 2019.
No Qualcomm 3 support for the latest model Android phones.
The PowerCore 10000 PD Redux is a good powerbank and is one of the few that market that supports 15V needed for faster charging of the Nintendo Switch and some laptops. While this isn’t super practical for laptops it’s a much better fit for your smartphones, tablets, and other smaller portable devices. Full and primary support for USB-C here is a nice touch.
Anker has made an update to improve compatibility with some Anker chargers in May so now that thats fixed you should have pretty good compatibility other than Qualcom QC 3 support. This does pair perfectly with the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim that I reviewed earlier, both fit in the powebanks bag and make a perfect traveling pair.
Value here isn’t what I typically expect from Anker unfortunately. This updated model has a significant premium over the older model without a ton of change. If your using it for a Laptop or Nintendo Switch then it’s worth the premium, but if your charging your smartphone or tablet while out on the go, I would struggle with paying the premium. That said I can recommend this charger with reservations.
Today I am looking at the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim charger, while that’s a mouthful this seriously small charger can output 30W of power using GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology. This is a one port USB-C charger that I have found great through a few recent travels. Thanks to Anker for sending it to me to take a look at and review.
Packaging here is a white cardboard box with blue sides. It has texture embossed into the box and looks nice. Inside is a pull out paper tray holds the charger and happy/not happy card. No cable is included with the charger which is a little disappointing.
Looks and Exterior Construction
This is a seriously small charger, it’s smaller than I imagined. It’s footprint is less than a credit card. Exact measurements are 77mm by 46mm, and only 16mm thick. Weight is only 57.8g. So this ranks in at the smallest overall footprint and lightest charger I have per watt, considering this can output 30W. All the edges are rounded so there are no 90 degree corners.
It’s made of a semi gloss plastic and feels solid, no cracks or creaks. It has an almost fabric like texture on top that gives it a more premium feel and looks nice in my opinion. The plug on the back folds into the design which keeps the small compact profile when not in use. This also has the benefit that it only covers one us plug when on the wall or in an airport. On the front is a blue LED on top near the port. It’s a little bright when being used in a dark hotel room, so I put a small piece of electrical tape over it.
Interior Construction and Specs
Let’s talk about the technical specs a bit of this charger. Total max wattage is 30 watts, for input voltage it’s capable of 100-240V at 50/60Hz meaning it’s a world capable charger. This features Ankers Power IQ 3.0 technology which is the latest version, this optimizes charging to be as fast as possible with all different devices. While not exactly the same as Qualcomm Quick Charge or Samsung’s Fast Charge, or Apple fast charge or various other manufactures version, it’s compatible with all of those and you should generally get as fast of charging as you would with a charger that supports these technologies natively according to Anker. My testing agrees with this. It’s also capable of upto 100W which will be coming in future chargers.
I am still learning my USB-C test equipment, but have been playing a lot with it. I can confirm the charger is capable of 30W, actually slightly more. Anker lists the different modes as the following outputs that it’s capable of.
5V ? 2.4A
9V ? 3A
15V ? 2A
20V ? 1.5A
It does not have USB-C PD.
Big power for such a Small Size, Heat isn’t an issue
Great for travel
Supports all the needed standards
No USB-C Cable is included, which is a little disappointing.
Blue LED is a bit too bright in a dark hotel room.
No USB-C PD support
The Anker PowerPort Atrom III Slim, is a very long name for such a small and capable charger. It may have only one port, but that one port is capable of 30W, combine that with Ankers Power IQ 3 technology and that means it will change almost any device as fast as the device allows. I have been using it on some recent travels, combined with an Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux powerbank, and it’s a great small combo, especially for quick airport or airplane top ups of my Note, or iPad. GaN chargers are here to stay, so if you don’t have one I definitely recommend the Atom III Slim as a great way to get into a reasonably high power charger for a low price to charge your USB-C devices.
Today I have the JetBeam PL-190R on my review table. It’s a photography and video fill light that’s capable of full spectrum colored light as well as white light. The fill light also features a 5000mAh battery that can be as a power bank as well. Thanks to Jetbeam for sending this to me to take a look at and review.
YouTube Version of this Review:
Packaging here is pretty minimal, it’s a clear folded plastic box, the light sits inside a try, and the only accessories that are included are the manual, and a USB OTG cable for allowing you to plug in another cable to use the fill light as a battery power bank as well.
The PL-190R reminds me in shape and build quality to a modern smartphone but thicker. On the front you have a diffused plastic panel with some orange peel to help diffuse each LED. Around the edges you have a metal frame, it has ¼ 20 threads that enable you to mount the light in the portrait or landscape profiles. When mounted in a landscape format your jog wheels are on the left, and your mode and power button end up on the top right. In the lower right hand corner on the bezel you have the USB-A and USB-C connections. The back is made of glass and has a fairly small OLED screen in the top left corner.
Size & Weight
I measured the length at 129mm, width at 72mm, and thickness at 15.5mm. Weight was 216.4g. It’s roughly the same footprint as the previous model but thicker.
LED | Runtime
The PL-190R has a lot of LED’s onboard, 220 to be exact. 120 of those are for the white light, with 60 being a warm white, and 60 being a cool white LED. When combined together you get a tint of between 2500k and 8500k. The remaining 100 LED’s are larger RGB LED’s used for the color.
The screen has a built in runtime estimator on it but I found it to not be very accurate. I did a test where I set the light to 4000k and 100% brightness. The estimate showed about 2 minutes 50 second, but the light goes on for significantly longer. My only guess is that estimate is before any change in brightness. Total runtime in this mode was right at 200 minutes. The first 50 minutes or so are at 90% relative output, and 170 minutes are above 80%. After the 50 minute the mark output becomes a little unstable with it stepping up and down slightly. This isn’t noticeable to the eye but could be in photo and video settings probably.
UI & Modes
Instead of buttons to change modes, and brightnesses the PL-190R is using dials which I prefer. It’s easier and quicker to use the dials then a button, once you understand the UI it’s pretty induative. The brightness wheel rotates continuously where as the mode dial allows you to rock the wheel up and down and click. I only had problems here with the brightness wheel at very low power, it’s sensitive enough to make the light almost flicker when down at 1-2% if shaken or vibrated too hard.
This light has 3 modes of operation.
In white light mode, the light uses it’s 60 warm and 60 cold LED’s to make a mix of light to reach the desired tint. IT ranges from 2500k to 8500k in 100k increments. Brightness is controllable in 1% increments and the light is rated for up to 650 lumens at 8500k, and 570 lumens at 2500k.
RGB mode is similar, but using the 50 RGB LED’s. It’s measuring tint in degrees of color gamut, and isn’t quite as fluid as as the white LED’s since everything is being done on each die vs a combination of 2 or more LEDs. It’s also adjustable for 0-100% intensity. The other rocker allows you to adjust the color, and then saturation level as well. Think of color as the course adjustment and saturation as the fine adjustment. I don’t have the equipment needed to give a lumen level for colored light, but generally RGB’s don’t put out as much light as the equivalently sized white LED. Personally I see this as being more of a photography or video fill light to light a tabletop scene and you will see in my night shots it puts out a decent amount of light.
The light also features a couple of modes that are programmed in. Practically for a filming/photography reason I don’t see these being super useful but it didn’t take any more space to do and it’s a seperate mode so I guess no harm is done including it. There are a total of 9 scene mode available including Lightning I, Lightning II, SOS mode, Club simulation, Color chase, Candlelight, Police car, Red and green flashing, and Blue and green flashing. These are fixed modes and its’ not capable of speeding up or slowing down the change, but you can control the brightness.
Recharging & Powerbank Functions
The PL-190R has a 5000mAh battery built inside. This is used to power the light but can also be used as a power bank. Impressively the light is capable of delivering upto 18W in powerbank mode, up to 12V or 3A appropriately. Unfortunately it doesn’t charge via a USB-C to C cable, so a A to C cable is required for modern devices.
Charge time via the USB-C input was just under 3 hours and it charged at 2A no problem.
The Jetbeam PL-190R is an interesting take on a photography fill light with the addition of color it becomes more capable as a video fill light as well. While not the only name in the game, it’s probably one of the better known flashlight companies doing this. There are other similar products from some other Chinese companies but none quite as bright or as many features.
For me I will probably use this as a photography fill light, for some supplemental lighting. If you don’t follow my instagram make sure you follow because this is where you will probably see this in use first. I will keep my original Jetbeam fill light as my video light since it’s smaller and I don’t need the color features for video work like this review.
If you are interested I will have a link below to where you can find it on Jetbeam’s website and for a few US retailers I can find.
Soundcore (an Anker company) has a new set of higher end truly wireless earbuds with the Soundcore LIberty Pro 2. These are an upmarket product for Soundcore, and feature a balanced armature and a dynamic driver. They feature a neat case and pretty impressive battery life in my testing. Thanks to Soundcore for sending these too me to review and tell you guys about.
Soundcore products have always had nice packaging but the Liberty Pro 2’s is above and beyond. It’s clear to me this package was designed with retail stores in mind. It’s textured in places and has a sharp eye catching design and lots of useful information to the consumer on the outside with all the stats and big features of the headphones. It’s a magnetic latch box so the consumer can look inside as well. Accessories include 3 sizes of ear wings, to help the fit in your ear, and then 3 sizes of each ear tip with duplicates of each. You also get a USB-A to USB-C cable for recharging the storage case.
The Soundcore case is vital to the operation of these headphones as it’s how you recharge the headphones. It’s made of a soft touch plastic and the door on the top has an addictive slide mechanism. If you like to fidget with things you will find yourself sliding this back and forth. The case itself allows the headphones to turn on and off via magnetic retention. As far as recharging the case has USB-C on the back, and is able to charge on a horizontal QI charging pad. You have 3 LED’s on the front that give you the battery status of the case.
Battery life of the LIberty Pro 2’s is good, Anker rates it at 8 hours and at least in my testing that’s pretty accurate. I recently took these on a business trip this week and wore them for hours at a time through airports and never had them get close to 50% and even if they do get low a 10 minute recharge in the case gives you an impressive 2 hours of additional playback time. Overall the 500mAh battery in the case is good for 32 hours of playback time. Size wise the case is a little on the large size for me. In my front jeans pocket it worked but if I was in shorts or had smaller pockets I could see it being a little too big. Other brands have more compact solutions if that’s an important factor for you.
Sound Quality Comfort & Software
Soundcore has developed their own set of drivers for the Liberty Pro 2’s called the Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture.. For the mid’s and high they a customly developed Knowles (Well known in the audio industry) balanced armature combined with an 11mm dynamic driver for the lows. These are placed inside each other allowing for the sound to not have to be routed within the body of the headphones so that you have the best possible sound quality. This is a somewhat unique design that your not seeing on a ton of true wireless ear buds right not.
Soundcore has then teamed up with 10 “Grammy Award Winning” audio producers to further tune and refine the sound profile of these headphones. Combine this with the soundcore app on your Android or Apple device and you have a choice of several audio profiles for your specific type of music. The app also has a customized hearing test where it analyzes each of your ears ability to hear a range of frequencies and builds a profile for you. See the video for how this works.
So what’s my experience with these? Well as with any in ear headphone fit is key to sound quality, and I took my time here to find what works best for me, a balance of comfort, sound quality, and retention. I settled with medium sized ear wings, and small ear tips. Comfort was pretty good with this combo and fatigue after 5 hours straight was minimal. Retention was great, and I had no problem at the gym working on AMT’s and other machines, and I would feel comfortable running with these as well.
Sound quality was impressive for a wireless headphone. Your music source is very important here, heavily compressed music, such as most streaming services you might not notice a difference, but I had some lossless files on my phone and on these I could tell the larger sound stage, clarity and accuracy. Bass was pretty good as well, with it being almost too powerful on some of the presets. So if you like Rap or EDM these should work pretty well for you at this price point. These do feature Bluetooth 5 asd aptX which both improve sound quality.
One disappointing thing is at this price point there is no audio passthrough which means for conversations you have to pause your audio and take out an ear bud to talk to someone. This proved a little frustrating in an airport until I reprogrammed the button on the top of the headphone to allow me to pause my audio.
These do feature Qualcomm’s cVc 8.0 noise reduction technology when making calls, combine that with a total of 4 microphones and at least in my experience call quality was surprisingly good. I have read some other reviews that not everyone had the same experience I had. This is a feature I rarely use because who makes calls anyways.
Great Sound Quality
Long Battery Life
USB-C and Wireless recharging
Built in Sound profiles are good and make a difference in audio quality.
The earbuds themselves are a little big but retention is good for me
Case is on the larger side
IPX4 Water rated, while enough for sweat
No passthrough audio for conversations and you must use both earbuds at the same time.
For me these are by far my best pair of wireless headphones, especially earbud style ones. Sound quality wise they live up to their price point for me. Bass was impressive, while still maintaining crisp mids and highs. Music quality matters here more than most normal headphones. You might not notice the difference on your average streaming service. I was impressed with the battery life here as well, of the headphones themselves and the case. Not many people are going to be listening for 8 continuous hours, and even if you are 10 minutes in the case gives the headphones 2 hours of use. In my travels this week I never came close to needing to recharge.
These only have minor disappointments, for me the lack of passthrough audio was unfortunate at this price point as well as these are just a little big. They are not something I want to lay down with if you are laying on your side.
All this said these get a solid recommend from me if you’re looking for a more high end sound, and a premium wireless ear bud for most situations to work with all your devices.
Xtar has introduced their new 2 bay lithium ion based charger and it’s capable of charging 2 cells at 4.1A each from USB-C! It features selectable charging rates too. Thanks to Xtar from sending me this early unit for a quick look and review along with a few high drain batteries to test with.
The charger I received was early in the production cycle and didn’t actually come with any of the final retail packaging. The accessories that will be included with the final product are the charger itself, USB-C to C cable, and a USB-A to USB-C cable thats QC3 compliant.
This charger is designed to charge cells 18650 and larger, primarily 18650, 18700, 20700, 21700, and 26650 batteries. To accomplish this Xtar made a few design changes. Instead of the positive end of the batteries facing the power plug, now the positive end faces the screen which is 180 degrees from pretty much all other chargers. Thankfully this is molded into the fire resistant plastic. They also designed the sliders (at the top) so no smaller batteries will fit, 18650’s are the minimum size. This charger should also charge protected 21700’s. Minimum size the charger accepts is 60mm, and maximum is 77mm. The charge now has temperature sensors on each bay in little metal pads that make direct contact with the batteries.
The sides pick up the blue theme with accents and the entire thing is made of soft touch flame retardant plastic. There are vents on the back and bottom of the charger to aid in cooling. Overall it’s made pretty well and feels solid.
As noted before the screen on this charger is on the bottom of it, and while the screen part itself is fairly small. Text is large enough and very clear. The background is a nice deep blue and text is white. The display shows the current voltage of the cell, Percentage of charge, charging speed, and temperature of the cell in centigrade. When you first plug in the charger it will do a test and show the resistance of the cell.
Below the screen you do have two buttons for each charging slot. These control the charging speed of each slot, with your options being 1A, 2A, or 4.1A. If you hold the button for 1.5 seconds the backlight and LED will turn completely off for night charging, although the red and green LED indicators (Charging/Charged) will stay on. The backlight will go to sleep after a few second under normal operation.
Here are some photos of the interior of the charger. My only concern is that the wires to the temperature sensor are very thin and I could see these potentially getting caught in the spring or mechanism.
Rather then read out the input and output specs I will throw a picture in here.
Charging via QC3
When charging via QC3, the charger is not capable of charging 2 batteries at 4.1A each. Instead it will charge 2 batteries at a maximum of 2A each. If you drop down to one cell it will charge at 4.1A. There is no indicator on the screen what your power source is, if it’s QC2 or QC3.
Charging via USB-C!
For maximum performance across both bays, the best thing is to use a power supply that capable of at least 40W (measured at the wall) or more via USB-C PD. I used my Innergie 60C charger for my testing because it’s the only USB-C charger I have that could deliver enough power. I tried my Xtar EU4 with USB-C but when loading up 2 batteries it would shut off when I tried to charge both at 4.1A.
When charging 2x 21700 batteries at 4.1A each at the start the charger was drawing 40W @ 0.74A at the wall. The cells started off at 24C. At 7% charger they had heated up to 30C. At 25% charge they were 45C and this was as hot as the charger reported things as getting, and my infrared thermometer measured similar temps. Total time to charge both 4000mAh 31700 batteries from 3.5V to 4.2 was 1 hour 25 minutes. Terminating voltage was 4.188V
When charging both cells at 2A, I measured a total of 22W of power at the wall, and when charging both at 1A I measured 12W at the wall. These lesser power modes could easily allow you to charge off lesser capable power supplies or using QC3.
USB-C PD! Finally we have a charger utilizing USB-C and PD. QC3 is also an option with a A to C cable.
Speed, this is one of the fastest chargers on the market, able to charge at 4.1A on each bay simultaneously. Great for those high capacity 21700’s and 26650’s if you need the speed.
Selectable Charger Rate, this is something we need from Xtar’s other chargers such as the X and VC series chargers.
Direct and continuous measurement of the temp of the battery, great for safety when charging at such high rates.
When using USB-C you must plug the charger in first then insert the batteries.
Cell orientation is backwards from most other chargers with positive terminal facing the user.
Unit shuts off when not receiving enough power (USB-C) instead of charging slower or giving a warning. This is kind of frustrating sometimes.
Larger Lithium batteries only, Unfortunately this isn’t a perfect one stop charger because it doesn’t support Ni-HM cells or smaller Lithium ion like 18350 or 14500.
It’s nice to see a charger finally use USB-C PD and have a battery charger from Xtar that allows you to change the speed of the charge too. The ST2 look a lot like the Xtar Over Slim 4 and has similar specs but with a USB-C input and no USB outputs.
To take advantage of the speed of this charger you really need to use USB-C power supply, and it needs to have a fairly large power output. My Xtar EU4 can put out about 45W on USB-C but that wasn’t enough to charge both cells at 4.1A and the charger shut off, and only my 60W charger was enough.
That said, in most applications I don’t recommend charging your larger batteries at 4.1A each, while it’s safe it does heat them up and causes some unnecessary wear and tear, and shortens they life by a small amount. This would be good for a quick top up if speed was necessary or maybe a boost early on in the charging and then turn down the speed as you go. This fast of charging should only be done on high drain batteries. So at 2A charging this charger needs a much less demanding power supply and this is where QC3 or a more modest USB-C charger comes into play.
This is a good charger for those looking for full USB-C support and outright charging performance in a small package and don’t mind not being able to charge smaller then 18650 lithium batteries or Ni-HM cells.
Xtar has an updated 4 bay charger on the market the VC4s. This is a do it all charger, with the ability to charge a wide variety of battery chemistries and sizes. The VC4s has QC3 input that allows for a maximum of 3A charging speed on one bay and the ability to do capacity testing, resistance testing while charging and also a storage mode. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to take a look at.
Packaging is a nicely done retail style white box, with full color photos on front and back of the charger. On the sides it shows the types of batteries it supports and on the back is a more technical details. Inside the charger is surrounded by a clear plastic mold. Accessories are limited to the manual and a MicroUSB cable capable of QC3, and a nice silk style bag to put everything in. No AC charger is included here and it’s up to the owner to supply their own (Preferably with QC3).
The Xtar VC4s is a well built charter. It’s solid in the hand with no molding issues, creeks or cracks. On the top side it has only one input, a microUSB connector labeled QC3. On the bottom it has vents for the internal electronics. It also has a placard molded into the plastic with the input, output voltages, along with all the different sizes of cells and chemistries it supports.
The top side features the spring loaded battery holders that expand to fit the different sizes of cells (too numerous to list). These are smooth and glide well, but provide enough tension to keep a cell in place. The most common sizes of batteries will fit this charger up to unprotected 21700 lithium batteries. The outside two slots are designed for batteries with larger diameters then 18mm. The inner two slots will fit a 21700 as long as it’s with a smaller battery next to it.
The screen is 75mm by 32mm and a white and blue LCD on a black background. It’s clear and reasonably bright with a backlight that does dim after a minute or so. Each slot has a dial that shows the battery voltage, charging speed in the 3 to 6 oclock position, and then capacity at the bottom, this changes to full when finished. It’s enough information to get a good idea of what’s going on but not any more.
Below the screen are two buttons that control the charger. On the left between slots 1 and 2 is the DISP button. This changes what the display is showing during the different modes. The choices are Cap (Capacity), Cur (Current), and IR (Resistance). The button on the right between slots 3 and 4 operate the different modes of the charger. Grad (Grading), Store (Storage).
I did take the charger apart and I will put up a few pictures of what I found inside. I didn’t see anything that concerned me, if you see something worth mentioning please make sure to comment about it.
The Xtar VC4s is capable of recharging Li-ion, IMR, INR, ICR, and Ni-MH batteries so this will cover the most common cells found today in your flashlights, vape pens, and other electronics. Let me run through some of the details here on the charging side of things. The charger does have 0 volt activation, and reverse polarity protection to keep things safe. I measured Li-ion Terminal Voltage at 4.161V and Ni-HM Terminal Voltage at 1.422V.
Recharging speed is not manually configurable on this charger with a button but there are some things you can do to influence things. First the charger is capable of charging at up to 3A on one bay, if using a battery that is large enough (and low enough resistance), only having one cell connected at a time, and using a QC3 power source. As you start adding more batteries in the charger, speed slows down as current is shared between charging cells. I did observe 4 Eneloops charging all at 1A each as they were about half full. The charger can charge at 0.5a for smaller cells, 1A, 2A, and 3A. The only thing I dislike is that if charging 1 Ni-MH AA battery, I was able to charge it at an indicated 3A if no other batteries were in the charger at the start of charging. It eventually went to 2A as the cell came up in voltage. This is quicker then I would normally be comfortable charging this type of battery at. A dirty solution to fix this would be to insert another battery into the charger even if it’s fully charged. While QC3 is not required, I would strongly recommend using a charger that supports that so you can take advantage of the speed.
The Xtar VC4s has a nice additional feature of a capacity tester. I did some informal tests and compared it to my ISDT C4 tester which has a similar feature. On ISDT C4 charger with my Samsung 30Q battery, it tested capacity at 2788mAh, so very close. The Xtar VC4s tested the exact same battery at capacity of 2763mAh. I did the same thing with an Eneloop AA that I have had for several years and got 1906mAh on the VC4s, and 2109mAh on the ISDT C4. So a bit of a difference in results here.
In storage mode, the charger will charge or discharge cells accordingly to be at the optimal value for long term storage. This is a nice feature if you have a lot of batteries, or plan to put a cell in a light you intend to put away for a long time. Terminal voltage on a Samsung 30Q for the VC4s was 3.67V and you can do 4 at a time.
It will even do storage on a NiHM cell but there isn’t as much reason to do this as there is on lithium chemistry cells.
It’s an added feature to be able to toggle to view the resistance of a cell during charging. More information to know what’s going on is always nice.
Nice to see some chargers start to use QC3 for power input.
I like the additional features here that allow you to charge, do a storage charge, and capacity testing as well as measure the cells resistance.
Wide range of battery support in size and battery chemistry, and faster then previous versions.
I would love to see information about the incoming power source on the display, at least the protocol thats being used.
MicroUSB for the power connection vs USB-C
Too fast of start charge for my taste if charging 1 AA Ni-MH cell.
No manual control over charging speed, the charger is pretty conservative so you should be safe.
The Xtar VC4s is a nice affordable upgrade over the VC4. The original VC4 was my main charger for the longest time because it was dead simple, safe, I liked the display and it was reliable. That said as time went on it was a bit slow, especially charging 4 cells at once. The VC4s improves these issues by adding QC3 which allows for more incoming voltage and thus faster charging. By modern standards this still isn’t a fast charger but I typically don’t need to charge batteries fast, and it’s actually better to charge them slower. I like the added features of testing capacity, and measure resistance during the charging cycle. These are things I will use as I test batteries. It’s a little disappointed to see USB-C not make the difference here and really give this a power boost but maybe that will be coming in a future model (hint hint). Overall this is a good charger and one I will be using to keep my cells full. I recommend it, as long as you have a QC3 power source (or purchase one) as well.
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