Xtar MC4S Review (USB-C Inexpensive 4 bay simple battery charger)

Xtar has updated version of the MC4 charger out with the new MC4s. It’s a basic 4 bay charger, utilizing USB-C for input power for charging various lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries. Thanks to Xtar for sending this out to take a look at. 

 

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Physically

The package it comes in is small retail style box with specs and battery sizes it supports listed on it. In the box is the charger itself, a simple manual, and a USB-A (Blue  to USB-C cable. 

 

The MC4S is a simple black flame retardant black plastic charger. It features 4 bays with spring loaded clips and a pad for the positive contact. This allows it to expand to fit most battery sizes. 10440-21700 (Non protected). For Ni-Mh and Ni-CD batteries it can do AAAA through C sized batteries. The outside 2 bays are designed for the larger diameter batteries like 26650’s and C sized cells. 

The MC4s features 4 LED’s on the front, one for each bay that tells you what’s going on. When you plug the charger in at first get a self check and each bay will show green for standby. They go when charging, and then turn green when charged. 

The back features a small vent for heat control, a large sticker showing input/Output power, as well as what all cells it supports. 

I measured the charger at 100mm x 97mm by 26mm. Empty weight is 95.2g.

 

Charging

This is a simple charger, and there isn’t anything to do or options to set. The LED status on each bay tells you what you need to know if the battery is charging (red) or if it’s charged (Green). I tested 4 LG HG2 batteries that started at 2.95V and put them into all 4 bays, and started charging. Terminal voltage was 4.125V and it did this is in 6.8 hours with the maximum charge rate combined at 1.8A or roughly 0.45A per bay. For smaller batteries like 10440 which this charger officially supports this may be a bit high of charge rate but for larger cells it’s just fine. It’s worth noting that slots 1 & 4 have faster charging rates of 1A each, if used by themselves, while inner 2 & 3 have slower rates at 0.5A if used by themselves.

I also tested some AA eneloop batteries across all 4 bays, starting at 1.12V and charging to completion at 1.46V. Charge rate here started off slow but gained in speed. This wan’t a constant current charge and seemed a little spiky on my equipment but ok overall. 

Lastly this charge will charge via USB-C to C cable and charger. I used my Aukey BA-B4 I recently reviewed and had no complaints. I have seen some people suggest this doesn’t have real PD triggering but it doesn’t really need it with these power level draws. 

 

Pro’s

  • Inexpensive with current prices being around $12
  • Basic, safe, get’s the job done.
  • USB-C to C support

 

Con’s

  • A bit agressive for the smaller sized cells it technically supports such as 10440, AAAA, etc. 
  • Not going to win any speed races for your larger cells.

 

Conclusion

What you see is what you get here, this is a dead simple battery charger that does what it says in a simple yet effective manner. If your new to the flashlight hobby and want a simple charger to get you going that will support the most common sizes of batteries you will see in most lights, for a low price, the MC4s does the job. 

 

This isn’t going to be the most appropriate charge for everyone but it’s a good place to get started for many. It’s nice to see USB-C here as the primary power input but in this case it’s all about the cable and connector of convenience if your life revolves around USB-C. It’s not taking advantage of the larger amount of power that could be delivered to speed charging times.

 

Overall the MC4s is a good basic, safe, and affordable charger. I can recommend it for your basic charging needs. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/toH1zXv

Pickup the Xtar MC4S 4 bay charger on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2RfdpFY 

Xtar PB2C Review (18650 Battery Charger & Powerbank)

Xtar has an update for the original PB2 18650 charger and powerbank. As the name implices (PB2C) the new model adds USB-C but only for charging. The XTar PB2 lineup is a little confusing in naming. The Larger PBS can fit larger 21700 batteries, charge and discharge via USB-C and has a screen. The new PB2S is smaller in size, can only take 18650 batteries, and doesn’t have a screen. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to take a look at and review.

 

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Packaging & Accessories

The Xtar PB2C packaging is very simple, it’s a clear plastic shell with a cardboard back with most of the information on the rear of the package. There is a simple multi language manual included in the package. Inside you get the PB2C itself and a USB-A(3) to USB-C cable.

 

Construction

The Xtar PB2C is made from hard plastic with some texture. The body and color of mine happens to be a sky blue with black accents. It’s a great look in my opinion and feels well built. The lid is held on with magnets at the center that are reasonably strong. There are nail nicks to make removal easier. On the inside you have the input and output specs as well as the units model and serial numbers.  

Inside the cells are held in place with pretty robust springs on one end and tabs on the other. This allows all 18650’s from flat top unprotected cells to protected button tops to fit. There is a ribbon to make removal easier which is a nice. Polarity and charging rates are molded into the base too. 

The only indicators that’s available are a series of 4 small white LED at the top, that are used for charge/discharge status, on/off status, and any errors (All blinking). Four lights building one by one means it’s charging, if all 4 lights are on charging is done. 

 

Size and Weight

The PB2C is smaller then it’s larger more advanced PB2S brother because it only fits 18650 batteries and doesn’t have a display. I measured the length at 109mm, width at 50mm and depth at 24mm. Weight with 2 18650 batteries came in at 150g.

As a Powerbank

As a Powerbank the Xtar PB2C is a little disappointing because it only works via the USB-A slot. The USB-C connector is an input only. Then I remember the price here, about $12 and given that it comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, I will give it a pass. As much as I love USB-C it’s still not as universal especially world wide as the Western World thinks it is. USB-A is the most compatible with the largest market yet.

 

I tested the PB2C with some 2600mAh Xtar batteries and was able to easily discharge at 2.25A for 1 hour 34 minutes. The voltage did sag some when running this hard, and wasn’t quite as stable as you see from most of my Anker and Aukey power banks but it was fine with an average voltage of 4.89V.. Capacity came in at a measured 3115mAh, which seems a little low but is roughly 80% efficiency assuming the labels on the batteries are correct. Higher capacity batteries will yield more capacity to recharge your devices. LVP on the cells kicked in at 3.23V and 3.40V. The powerbank function can be used while the charger is charging batteries, with it primarily powering the device off the USB input rather then discharging the batteries.

 

As a Charger

As a charger the Xtar PB2C combines all the features from Xtar that are proven and well respected such as zero volt activation, reverse polarity protection, safe charging rates, over discharge protection, etc. If one battery is inserted, into the 2 slot charger, charging speed will be 1A, if 2 batteries are installed it will be upto 2A. If the batteries inserted have different power levels, the lower voltage cell will charge first till they are equal and then it will charge both batteries. 

 

In my testing I charged 2 2600mAh cells to full in 3 hours and 7 minutes mostly at 1.9A of speed. Terminal voltage on both cells was 4.17V which is good. I had no trouble fitting protected, unprotected, and all manner of button top cells on the charger. Your luck may vary with custom cells from brands like Olight. 

 

Pro’s

  • Very Affordable
  • Can take protected or unprotected 18650’s
  • Blue and Orange Color Options

 

Con’s

  • USB-C is only used for charging here, it would be better if it was bidirectional.

 

Conclusion

This is a nice little battery charger and powerbank combination if all you need to charge are 18650 sized batteries. It has most cases for those covered. It’s a nice update to see USB-C included but I wish it was in and out instead of just used for input power only. That said the included USB-A to C cable does help with this, and for the price I can’t fault it much. Overall this is a good basic charger and powerbank combo from Xtar at a very affordable price. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/2ovOuC0

Find more on the Xtar PB2C at http://www.xtar.cc/product/XTAR-PB2C-Charger-131.html

AliExpress Global – http://bit.ly/2IUcV3l 

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

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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

 

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