Xtar ST2 Battery Charger Review (USB-C, Selectable Speed, Dual slot 4.1A Each)

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.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/CfM55vl

YouTube Version of this Review:

 

Join my channels Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/

 

Packaging

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. 

 

Construction

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. 

Pro’s

  • 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.

 

Con’s

  • 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.

 

Conclusion

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. 

 

You can pickup the Xtar ST2 at Banggood and get it for $$29.90 using code:YXST2 at bit.ly/2Y4q92D

On on AliExpress from Xtar Directly at bit.ly/2xXy07B

 

Follow Xtar on Social Media. 

https://www.instagram.com/xtar_official/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/ShenzhenXTAR/

Xtar VC4S Review (4 Bay, QC3, Capacity Testing & Storage Mode)

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. 

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/PDOTR7L

YouTube Version of this Review: 

I am trying to build my facebook group up and get some interaction going!  Join my channels Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LiquidretroReviews/

 

Packaging

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).

https://i2.wp.com/i.imgur.com/kuSFGMZ.jpg?resize=525%2C295&ssl=1

Construction

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. 

Recharging

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. 

Speed

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. 

Capacity Test

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. 

Storage Mode

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.

Resistance

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. 

Pro

  • 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.
  • Affordable

 

Con

  • 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.

 

Conclusion

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.

 

As always thanks guys for watching this video. You can help me out by liking this video and making sure your are subscribed to the channel, making sure you join the facebook page, and any of the social media platforms you are a part of. I will have a link in the description below on where so please give it a click. If you have any questions let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. 

WelTool M7 Review (Inspection Light)

WelTool has a new specialized flood inspection style light with the new M7. The light takes an 18650 battery and has a Aspherical lens creating a super even beam with hard cut off edges. This is a specialized light so let’s take a quick look at it and it’s use cases. Thanks to WelTool for sending it to me.

Just a reminder to everyone to make sure you join my Facebook page for the YouTube channel and my reviews, where I try to post a few days a week, new arrivals etc, and take a look at the Patreon page I have setup for the channel as well.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/OcmHclW

Youtube Version of this Review: 

Packaging

The light comes in a red cardboard box, with Weltool branding on it. It’s a box that is designed to fit multiple models. Inside the light was packed in foam cut to fit the M7. Accessories were limited to the light itself, the included Weltool branded button top protected 2600mAh USB rechargeable 18650 battery, a pocket clip and a spare oring.

Weltool may have overdone it with their thesaurus when writing the description of this light on both their website and Amazon listing. In my opinion detracts from the light and just makes it look silly, less like a tool, and more like a marketing stunt. Weltool should hire a native English speaker to make sure everything translates well in meaning and isn’t over the top with buzz words. One of my favorite example is ““Eye of Heaven General”, the Eye of Wisdom, will watch over the hard work you pour your heart into.”

Construction

The light is made from aluminum, and anodized black. Overall machining is average, but I did have a small area in the head that seemed the anodizing was worn off, possibly due to shipping? Starting at the tail, you have a large proud rubber boot with a mechanical switch underneath. Inside the tail is a single spring, on the outside fairly standard diamond knurling can be found.

The clip attaches to the body in a head down only position. The clip makes and effort to allow for a slightly deeper carry but 29mm of the lights tail will still stick out. The clip is fairly robust for a push on design and is removable. The body and head sections are all milled as once piece. The body continues the same basic diamond knurling the tail has. The head grows slightly in diameter, and has a prominent anti roll ring that works well. The front bezel itself is plastic, and the lens itself is an Aspherical Acrylic lens. I do notice it collecting dirt down in the corner of the lense pretty easily.

Lastly the light has labeling around the rear switch saying “Only 18650 Available”, (Translation error?), and then up front it has the Weltool logo, model and “The Eyes of Heaven General” tagline they have chosen for this light, which happens to be slightly crooked.

Size/Weight

I measured length at 119mm, maximum diameter at 29mm, minimum diameter at 22mm. Weight with the included battery and clip is 122.8g. The light is only IP67 rated, meaning it can survive a drop into water up to a meter.

LED/Beam Pattern, Runtime

The make and model of the LED used in this light isn’t given, instead they call it a “X-LED”, more marketing and less facts for those who actually want to know. My guess is it’s something like a Cree XM-L series LED in a pretty cool white.

 

The beam as mentioned before is very round, consistent and even due to the acrylic aspherical lens. It has no hot spots, and really floods with little to no throw. Cut off is fairly hard on the edges as well.

The light uses constant current, and has no PWM which is nice. Output curve is pretty steady with no thermal or timed stepdowns, its brightness varies with the discharge profile of the battery largely. Total runtime I saw was 120 minutes, My runtime graph may not be entirely accurate due to the abnormal battery mine shipped with. More on that in the recharging section. I measured parasitic drain at 3.6uA.

UI

Ui on this M7 is very simple. You have two modes, low and high. Low is rated for 114 lumens while high is 353 lumens according to Weltool. You can full press or have press to switch between modes, the light does start on low. It’s nice they didn’t include strobe as that would not fit the intended useage of the light.

 

Recharging

I seem to have received a battery with a bit of a defective protection/charging circuit. On mine LVP kicked in at 3.44V, and reported as fully charged via the USB cable at 4.06V. I confirmed with Weltool that these are not normal behaviors. The battery that ships with the light is USB rechargeable, and only 2600mAh. I would like to see Weltool include a 3000 or 3500mAh battery in 2019 as the price difference is small and that would add a good amount more of runtime.

Pro

  • Beam makes it good for upclose work, reading or short range inspection tasks, It’s very even
  • I like that the light starts on Low
  • Decent clip

Con

  • Low 2600mAh battery included with the light with a pretty narrow range of operation 3.44V – 4.06V in my tests.
  • I would have liked to see an additional low mode, for up close reading type tasks.
  • I would have liked to see a magnet in the light, this could have made a nice under the hood type light if it had one.
  • Seems a bit expensive at the time of this review.

Conclusion

This is a specialized niche light for specialized purposes. I can see it being useful for close inspection work within a few feet of you or to provide some light while working on something with your hands (Although a headlamp would be my choice to do this). This isn’t the best choice for a general purpose light, to use while camping, walking the dog, or just general use.  My example had a few minor aesthetic issues with the anodizing and labels on the light, but other then that it’s ok. The labeling and writing for the marketing/technical details really are not for me, everything has been written in a grandiose fashion and that hasn’t always translated to english very well. This is a relatively easy fix for WelTool and I would encourage them to tame it down for future lights and stick to the facts that flashaholics and general consumers need when making a purchasing decision.

 

If you need a light with a super floody beam, for short distance work, this is an ok choice, but for most people a more conventional beam pattern with a bit of hot spot, more throw, will be more useful in general in my opinion. I feel like in terms of value at the time of writing this is a bit expensive for what your getting for most people.

Xtar EU4 USB Charging Hub Review (USB-C, QC3, 2x 2.4A)

Xtar not only makes battery charges but they have gotten into the USB Hub style chargers. Today I am taking a look at the Xtar EU4, a 4 port charger with 1 USB-C PD, 1 USB- QC 3.0, and 2 USB 2.4A ports and an LCD display. The charger can put out a maximum of 64W of power. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to take a look at.

Full Image Gallery:  https://imgur.com/a/tFQhanp

YouTube Video Review: https://youtu.be/4vgUVCMcIos

 

Packaging

The packaging is a white retail Xtar box, with a nice picture of the charger on the front, emphasizing the screen and ports. The rear has the important specs and features. Inside the charger is packaged in a clear plastic holder. The only included accessories is the included power cable.

Construction

The charger itself is made from a soft touch plastic, thats matt black in color. It doesn’t finger print but will show streaks or oils from your hands easily. In my opinion it’s better than glossy plastic. It’s rectangular in shape with one rounded corner. On the left bottom is the AC in. It’s nice they choose to use a standard 2 prong AC cable, so it’s easily replaced if you lose it or you want to get an international version. On the very bottom of the charger you have all the required labeling and regulatory certifications. Labeling in general is easy to follow and intuitive.

On the right you have the 4 ports. Starting at the top you have Qualcomm QuickCharge 3 port in orange, Below it you have the 2x 2.4A standard USB ports. Below that you have the USB-C port.

The LCD shows all the information you would normally need a USB charger doctor or similar monitor for but it’s built in. This is great for data nerds like myself. In the center you get total charging wattage, in the top right you get the voltage going through the port displayed in the middle, and then in the lower right the amperage. On the top left and right you see which ports are active. This cycles around to each active port every few seconds. The LED screen is backlit, and has a high and low backlight mode. If you press and hold the button it will shut off all backlight which is perfect for nighttime bedroom charging.

Power

Input power is rated for 110-220V at 50/60hz so this is a great charger for travel or international use.

Output power depends on which ports your using and the combination. The charger has 1 QC 3 port, 2x 2.4A ports, and 1 USB-C PD port.

If using the QC3 port, you can use either the USB-C or the QC3 with the 2x 2.4A ports. The charger can switch between the two modes with the press of the button. Unfortunately it’s not intelligent enough to do so automatically.

The QC3 port is capable of upto 12V at 1.5A, or in lower voltages but greater amps. My tester with QC3 triggered was able to pull 3.65A at 4.95V, on the standard 2.4A ports I was able to pull 2.7A at 5V. Voltage on these ports started slightly higher at 5.29V with low load. Power was stable across high load scenarios that is until my tester wanted to shutdown to dissipate heat.

I don’t have as detailed analysis equipment for USB-C but what I can tell you is that it easily reaches the 64W claim and will charge my laptop which is a little picky. The laptop does take a moment to negotiate though.

 

Pros

  • USB-C PD Support upto 45w
  • QC3 Support for all your supported devices that don’t have USB-C
  • Built in LCD screen to let you know what’s happening and how fast for all the ports.
  • Good design, fit and finish

 

Cons

  • Not able to use all the ports at one time. It’s either USB-C & QC3 or QC3 and the two USB 2.4A ports.
  • It’s not quite smart enough to auto sense a cable is plugged in and switch modes and requires a button press.

Conclusion

This is my new main travel charger, With it I can replace a separate charger for my laptop, phone, and other USB powered devices. It fully supports different voltages and you could easily use plug adapters or buy a different cable to have an international plug if you were going to be in the country long term, since the end that plugs into the charger is not proprietary. Until then it’s been sitting in my nightstand and is used to charge most my mobile devices from day to day. It will work good to power your lithium battery chargers as well, like my older Xtar VC4, or any of the new X2 or X4 chargers I recently reviewed.

Pickup the EU4 at your favorite retailer like Illumn or Bangood.