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: 

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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.

 

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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.

Xtar X4 4 Bay Battery Charger Review

Xtar has a new charger on the market the X4. I previously looked at the X2 but today I have a review of the X4, the 4 bay version. It’s capable of 4A and capable of charging Li-ion and Ni-MH batteries, with AC or 5V MicroUSB Power. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to test and review.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/E6G69Ki

YouTube version of this Review:

Packaging

The packaging is a white retail box with a gloss photo of the X4 on the front. The sides list a few key features such as the charging speed, Inputs, LCD display, the chemistries and sizes of batteries that are supported. The back gives more specifications and features of the charger. It contains a scratch off anti counterfeit sticker and is insured worldwide. The package contains the charger, AC power cable, and the manual.

Construction

The Xtar X4 charger is a 4 bay charger that can accommodate most common battery sizes. I had no trouble with all 18650’s, it will fit 4x 26650, and I didn’t have any issues with an unprotected 21700. Smaller batteries were ok too, 18350, AAA, etc. It will not charge a protected 21700 battery. The metal sliders are fairly smooth and have enough tension on them to hold a battery securely.

The body of the charger is a black ABS plastic that is heat and flame retardant, and is kind of in an X configuration, in outside appearance. There isn’t a fan in this charger meaning it’s silent, and I didn’t notice it get very warm during use. There is one button on the top, middle near the screen that when held turns the screen off, for night time charging if you wish.

I took some photos of the inside of the charger here. I am not a circuit engineer but to me it looks decent. Quality of the solder joints look good, A few components are not 100% squarely placed but not bad either. I don’t see any cold joints or things that I am alarmed about. If you see something you are concerned about, make sure to leave a comment. I suspect the second contact further down the slot is used in the detection of the battery as well.

Screen

The screen is a LCD with a dark black background and white text that’s tinted blue with a blue backlight. On each bay you get a 0-100% indicator showing what percentage the battery is at, on the top right corner you get the current voltage, below that you get the charge rate, below that in the center you get the mAh that’s been put into the cell since the start of charging, and lastly on the bottom left hand corner you get the cell chemistry that’s been detected. The screen is easy to read and I had no complaints about it. It does time out after a few minutes, you can press the button to wake it up.

Performance

Performance of the X4 is similar to the X2 but faster. The X4 will charge at up to 1A for all 4 slots or 2A on the outer slots if they are used solo. The charger has reverse polarity detection and didn’t charge batteries when they were placed in backwards. Battery chemistry was correctly identified, when you place a new cell in it takes a few seconds for it to go through detection and begin charging. Depending on the battery voltage the charger will apply the proper charge for most cells.

I tried a variety of cells, all the way from 21700’s, 26650, 18350, and of course 18650’s. I had no complaints about Lithium ion charging. It will not charge protected 21700s. I do have a little complain on NiMH charging of AAA cells though. It detected my Duracell AAA batteries here as the proper chemistry but charged them at 1A each. While not terrible, it’s faster than I like to charge them, and I can’t decrease the charge rate with this charger.

Terminating Voltage for a 18650 cell was 4.16V

Terminating Voltage for a AA NiHM was  1.42V

Terminating voltages as you can see from above were lower then what I would expect to see. I probably need a larger sample size of cells and chargers to see if this is a problem with just my example of the charger or an issue with my batteries.

The charger has 0V activation (Although this is generally not recommended for batteries with a Lithium chemistry). For  charging it has a 3 step process TC-CC-CV with soft start technology. This helps with overall battery longevity and long term health. I had no problems with excess heat during use of the charger.

 

USB PowerBank Function

The charger also has a powerbank function on slot 4. If no incoming power is put into the charger and you put a lithium battery into slot 4, the charger will go into powerbank mode. Plug a USB-A cable into the charger and then plug in your device to charge and it’s that simple. It’s not a feature I use often but it’s nice to have if needed.

 

Pro’s

  • All automatic, this make the charger very easy to use but doesn’t give enthusiasts any options on what speed to charge the batteries at. Default settings are generally conservative, which is safe.
  • AC Power via a fairly standard cable. The charger is compatible with 120/240v so it’s safe for international use. It can also be powered via MicroUSB.
  • Affordable, at US retailers it’s coming around $25-30 generally

 

Con’s

  • I would like to see the USB input be in USB-C over MicroUSB because it’s 2019.
  • Terminating voltages seemed to be a little low
  • A little high charge rate of 1A for AAA NiHM batteries.
  • A total of only 4A total charge rate is a little slow for a 4 bay charger.

 

Conclusion

The Xtar X4 is a nice updated charger from Xtar at a pretty affordable price. I have been a fan of Xtar chargers because they are a good value and provide a quality, safe charging experience. I was a fan of the X2 and am also a fan of the X4.

 

A total of 4A charge rate between all 4 bays is a little slow when charging 4x 18650 or larger batteries. Most larger modern batteries can easily take 2A charging speed. That said it’s an upgrade over Xtar’s previous 4 bay model the VC4 that I still end up using a fair amount. It would just be nice to see the X4 do a total of 8A but this might make it a little less easy to use with then having options to select. Maybe that’s for a future product, to offer enthusiasts more options and higher charge rates. Time will tell if this holds true or not. Until then the X4 does a nice job at a pretty affordable price.

More Information on the Xtar X4 Charger  can be found at: http://www.xtar.cc/cdq/AC_Power_Series/2018/1116/292.html

Pick up an Xtar X4 at Illumn or Amazon.