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First look: Apple Battery Charger and AA batteries

post #1 of 155
Thread Starter 
Perhaps the most surprising product unveiled by Apple last week was its new environmentally friendly $29 Battery Charger and six AA batteries. AppleInsider offers a look at the rechargeables that will power your Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse, wireless keyboard, or any other battery-driven device.

Apple's introduction of updated Mac Pros and iMacs, a new 27-inch LED Cinema Display, and the multi-touch Magic Trackpad were all expected product releases last week. But the company also introduced the new Apple Battery Charger, designed to power its wireless desktop input devices.

For $29, users get six AA batteries, and a wall charger that can recharge two batteries at a time. Apple's pricing is competitive, and better than many competing options available today.

The charger itself is small -- smaller than most. But instead of selling the hardware based on its size, Apple is touting a "vampire draw" power consumption that is more than 10 times better than the industry average. That energy conservation is part of a green pitch the company has made in selling its first batteries.

Apple says that the average battery charger uses 315 milliwatts of power after it has charged its AAs. The Apple Battery Charger, however, senses when the batteries are topped off, and reduces the power consumption to just 30 milliwatts.

But many other (much larger) battery chargers will recharge up to four batteries at once. Apple has said that users can use two batteries to power their Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad, two for their wireless keyboard, and use the remaining two to charge.

The batteries do not have an Apple logo on them, featuring a plain silver design that simply reads "Rechargeable." In fact, the only mention of Apple on the battery is in the fine print: "Charge only with Apple specified charger. Made in Japan."



It is unknown whether the Cupertino, Calif., company actually had a hand in designing the batteries, or if they are simply rebranded from a traditional battery maker. A request for comment from Apple public relations was not returned.

However, the charger -- white, like all others from Apple -- does include the traditional "Designed by Apple in California" fine print.



The charger features a light on top that glows amber when the batteries are being charged and turns green once the charge cycle is completed. The green light automatically turns off six hours after the battery charging has completed.

It is not a "quick" charger, like those that will provide power to batteries in 15 minutes. This will not be a major concern to most, as the Bluetooth Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard can operate for months without having their batteries replaced, giving users ample opportunity to recharge.



The Ni-MH batteries ship about three-quarters of the way charged, and topping off two AA batteries after the package was opened took over an hour. Apple states the batteries have a minimum capacity of 1900 mAh.

Based on the designed life cycle and anticipated user scenario, Apple says that its batteries will offer a service life of up to 10 years. Apple also claims that the included six AA batteries have an "extraordinarily low self-discharge rate," and can sit without use for a year and maintain 80 percent of their original charge. The real test, of course, will come after months of use with the batteries. As anyone who has used other rechargeables can attest, the batteries often do not continue to hold a charge after less than 10 months, let alone 10 years.

post #2 of 155
My charger came today, very nice.

I have noticed that if I hold it in a certain way, the batteries don't charge as fast.
post #3 of 155
It looks nice but I can't help but feel that Apple blew it on the design of this thing. It really should have included at least one USB port for charging devices like the iPad or iPhone.

-kpluck

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post #4 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

It looks nice but I can't help but feel that Apple blew it on the design of this thing. It really should have included at least one USB port for charging devices like the iPad or iPhone.

-kpluck

Great point, would have been nice.
post #5 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

It looks nice but I can't help but feel that Apple blew it on the design of this thing. It really should have included at least one USB port for charging devices like the iPad or iPhone.

I don't know if that means they "blew it," but it's certainly a good idea. It's not like they can't make two kinds of chargers easily enough.

You should suggest that to Apple.
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post #6 of 155
post #7 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

It looks nice but I can't help but feel that Apple blew it on the design of this thing. It really should have included at least one USB port for charging devices like the iPad or iPhone.

-kpluck

Totally. Would be nice if you could plug in a Macbook or iPod to charge in the same wall socket - pretty un-apple to add yet another lump of plastic to the lump of plastic drawer with it's only function being charging AA batteries...

Who uses AA batteries anymore btw? I've had a logitech mouse and wireless headset with built-in rechargeable batteries going strong for about 4 years now... Besides 9 volts in the smoke detector and distortion pedals, I think i'm basically removeable-battery free.

This does take me back, though, to Dynacharge rechargeables in the summer of '85. Those were the days....
post #8 of 155
AA batteries are rated at 1.5 volts, but most rechargeable batteries are only 1.2 Volts. I was wondering if Apple figured out a way to make a 1.5 Volt rechargeable battery?

I'm using rechargeable batteries from China on my aluminum keyboard and Magic Mouse, but they really don't last that long and the System Preferences says they're never more than 60% even after being fully charged.
post #9 of 155
It would be nice if they sold additional batteries separately. I'll need 6 alone just for my keyboard + MM + MT -- I plan to keep the MM available for the times when I may prefer it -- and a few extra for a couple of remotes would be nice too, as well as a spare couple in the charger.
post #10 of 155
The rechargeable battery isn't anything new. I thought Apple was an innovative company!

#Sarcasm
post #11 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

My charger came today, very nice.

I have noticed that if I hold it in a certain way, the batteries don't charge as fast.

I hope that wasn't a reference to you know what, it's getting old real quick.
post #12 of 155
At a conservatively over-priced $0.20 per kilowatt-hour, 315 milliwatts over 10 years will cost $5.50.

Compare that to the Apple charger's 30 milliwatts over 10 years costing $0.50.

That's a whopping $5 savings--total over 10 years.
post #13 of 155
Recharge only 2 batteries at a time? No thanks.
post #14 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

My charger came today, very nice.

I have noticed that if I hold it in a certain way, the batteries don't charge as fast.

(The problem gets resolved if you stick your finger in the socket, though).

Btw, I got mine too, yesterday, and love it.
post #15 of 155
I'm surprised Apple didn't call them "Magic Batteries."

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post #16 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

At a conservatively over-priced $0.20 per kilowatt-hour, 315 milliwatts over 10 years will cost $0.55.

Compare that to the Apple charger's 30 milliwatts over 10 years costing $0.05.

That's a whopping 50 cent savings--max.

I see you managed to miss the point - as usual.

If there's no additional cost or environmental load to manufacture Apple's chargers, that's a free energy savings - since the price is competitive. If a billion people save 315 mw on this - and then start thinking about other places they can save energy - it could add up.

It's easy to say "I can only save 100 W per fixture by using energy efficient bulbs. Multiply that by 20 fixtures in your house, 5 hours of use per day, and 6 billion people and it could save an enormous amount of energy and pollution.

It doesn't matter if you're concerned about global warming or concerned about sending money to terrorist countries, using less energy is smart.
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post #17 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

Recharge only 2 batteries at a time? No thanks.

Unless you have devices that take more than 2 batteries at a time, it's unlikely you need to charge more than that at once. Although, it's possible that 2 devices will have their batteries run down at exactly the same time, it's not likely to happen very frequently. Apple's AA devices each now take 2 batteries -- and, obviously, their motivation is to make a charger for use with your Apple devices -- so recharging 2 at a time seems entirely reasonable, otherwise, you are paying for charger capacity that you aren't using most of the time.
post #18 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

I'm surprised Apple didn't call them "Magic Batteries."

They are LSD batteries.
post #19 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

At a conservatively over-priced $0.20 per kilowatt-hour, 315 milliwatts over 10 years will cost $0.55.

Compare that to the Apple charger's 30 milliwatts over 10 years costing $0.05.

That's a whopping 50 cent savings--max.

Technically, you're off by a decimal point here, so the numbers work out to $5.50 for 'others' and $0.55 for apple, so it's a savings of about $5.

Still nothing to write home about, but every little bit helps, right?
post #20 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

I have noticed that if I hold it in a certain way, the batteries don't charge as fast.

Ha! Love it!!!
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post #21 of 155
Based on made in Japan and the 80% discharge rate, I will place a bet that they are eneloop batteries by sanyo. I personally use them for all my camera equipment. check it out on amazon http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&key...l_93w1xqq71m_b
post #22 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

My charger came today, very nice.

I have noticed that if I hold it in a certain way, the batteries don't charge as fast.

It's true! Sticking the prongs between your fingers doen't charge the batteries as quickly as sticking them into the wall socket.
post #23 of 155
Apple could have saved space in the Magic Mouse and Magic TrackPad if the batteries were permanent and not user replaceable. After 2 months of use, you would have to send it back to Apple for replacement batteries for $49.
post #24 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

It looks nice but I can't help but feel that Apple blew it on the design of this thing. It really should have included at least one USB port for charging devices like the iPad or iPhone.

-kpluck

I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but there are wall outlets that contain USB recharging sockets. No recharger required.
post #25 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

This was news to me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_sel...e_NiMH_battery

Yeah, these are probably essentially Sanyo Enerloop batteries repackaged. I was clued into these last year by a photographer friend of mine who swears by them for his camera flashes-- holds tons of juice and always ready when you need it.
post #26 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I see you managed to miss the point - as usual.

I see you bought into the hype--as usual.

How much energy has been expended in hyping this incredible energy saving feature?

Quote:
If there's no additional cost or environmental load to manufacture Apple's chargers,

That's if.
The 50 cent savings is over 10 years. 5 cents per year. In many parts of the U.S., electrical power costs less than half the conservative figure I used. That makes at least the near-term savings closer to 2 cents per year or 25 cents over 10 years.

Quote:
It's easy to say "I can only save 100 W per fixture by using energy efficient bulbs. Multiply that by 20 fixtures in your house, 5 hours of use per day, and 6 billion people and it could save an enormous amount of energy and pollution.

You do understand the difference between a watt and a milliwatt, don't you?

The real benefits to the environment would seem to be Apple's promotion of rechargeables, not its charger.
post #27 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Unless you have devices that take more than 2 batteries at a time, it's unlikely you need to charge more than that at once. Although, it's possible that 2 devices will have their batteries run down at exactly the same time, it's not likely to happen very frequently. Apple's AA devices each now take 2 batteries -- and, obviously, their motivation is to make a charger for use with your Apple devices -- so recharging 2 at a time seems entirely reasonable, otherwise, you are paying for charger capacity that you aren't using most of the time.

You don't have kids, do you?

We have 2 4-AA chargers and sometimes they're both in use. Sometimes only one. Rarely is no battery being charged. It seems like every silly little toy requires batteries these days.
post #28 of 155
This is not a very good review.

First.
"Based on the designed life cycle and anticipated user scenario, Apple says that its batteries will offer a service life of up to 10 years. Apple also claims that the included six AA batteries have an "extraordinarily low self-discharge rate," and can sit without use for a year and maintain 80 percent of their original charge. The real test, of course, will come after months of use with the batteries. As anyone who has used other rechargeables can attest, the batteries often do not continue to hold a charge after less than 10 months, let alone 10 years."

I think you're misreading what it says. Apple means that you will be able to use these batteries for 10 years, not that it will hold the same charge for 10 years. This is a long service life since most of my rechargeables have barely lasted 4 in the past.

Second.
You should tell us other stats about the charger. For example, how long does it take to fully charge a battery after you drain it? How warm does the battery get when you're charging? We want to know what mAh does the charger charge the battery, if it's high like 800 mAh, the battery will charge faster but get hotter, shortening its life.

Third.
How close are these to the existing Eneloop batteries? Perhaps they're rebranded? But Eneloop won't last 10 years. So these must be somehow different and yet the similar at the same time. How?

Can you please update you review to include my points?
post #29 of 155
You know, if you unplug the thing from the wall it takes zero milliwatts... Do folks really leave chargers plugged in after a set of batteries has charged?
post #30 of 155
If the batteries are made in Japan, chances are they are rebranded Sanyo Eneloop LSD batteries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

It looks nice but I can't help but feel that Apple blew it on the design of this thing. It really should have included at least one USB port for charging devices like the iPad or iPhone.

Nice idea, but two things: 1) then Apple couldn't gouge you on a USB charger, 2) that probably would kill the low vampire current claim if they had to continuously monitor a USB port, too.

I've actually got a charger that charges 4 AA or AAA batteries, and it has a USB port for charging USB devices. And the real trick, if you are away from an AC source, you can use the charged batteries, or any disposable batteries, to power the USB port and charge your iPod, phone, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

It would be nice if they sold additional batteries separately. I'll need 6 alone just for my keyboard + MM + MT -- I plan to keep the MM available for the times when I may prefer it -- and a few extra for a couple of remotes would be nice too, as well as a spare couple in the charger.

Once it's confirmed that this is an LSD (low self-discharge) compatible charger, just go purchase the Eneloop batteries. They are likely cheaper than Apple would charge you anyway.
post #31 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

At a conservatively over-priced $0.20 per kilowatt-hour, 315 milliwatts over 10 years will cost $0.55.

Compare that to the Apple charger's 30 milliwatts over 10 years costing $0.05.

That's a whopping 50 cent savings--max.

The point is when millions of people use rechargers that are left in after recharging, as most people do, the total amount of energy used is large enough to power a small city. If ten million people used this charger instead of another, the difference would be 31.5 megawats vs 3 megawatts. That's a big difference.

If all you can think of is your own costs, then you're missing the point to green tech.
post #32 of 155
They are almost certainly eneloop - high output (says min 1900 right on the battery im holding); VERY long shelf life (80% after a year of sitting on the shelf and only some small % per some time frame after) and made in japan. Photographers swear by these more and more, because nothing is worse then going to a shoot and your backup batteries are dead from disuse.
post #33 of 155
BFD!

I wait a year and a half and only get a speed bump for the Mac Pro.

And now?

A friggin battery charger. Go to the 99cent store and get a battery charger.
post #34 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but there are wall outlets that contain USB recharging sockets. No recharger required.

Now all we need to do is carry this wall outlet with us when traveling and change out whatever we find in our hotel room.
post #35 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Yeah, these are probably essentially Sanyo Enerloop batteries repackaged. I was clued into these last year by a photographer friend of mine who swears by them for his camera flashes-- holds tons of juice and always ready when you need it.

I've been using both Energizer 2500mWh and generic 2000mWh batteries in my camera. Both of them seem to die very quickly just sitting my in camera bag. Seems like I need to invest in some Sanyos.
post #36 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

I see you bought into the hype--as usual.

How much energy has been expended in hyping this incredible energy saving feature?


That's if.
The 50 cent savings is over 10 years. 5 cents per year. In many parts of the U.S., electrical power costs less than half the conservative figure I used. That makes at least the near-term savings closer to 2 cents per year or 25 cents over 10 years.


You do understand the difference between a watt and a milliwatt, don't you?

The real benefits to the environment would seem to be Apple's promotion of rechargeables, not its charger.

No more energy has been spent in designing and building this recharger than any other. What kind of misunderstanding do you have here?

Your money argument is absurd. That's not the real reason for this, though some people will be swayed by even saving 5 cents a year.

You have no understanding of the concept of green energy devices.
post #37 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Who uses AA batteries anymore btw? I've had a logitech mouse and wireless headset with built-in rechargeable batteries going strong for about 4 years now... Besides 9 volts in the smoke detector and distortion pedals, I think i'm basically removeable-battery free.

Who uses AA batteries? Apple Wireless Keyboards. Apple Wireless Mice. Apple Wireless Magic TrackPads. The wide variety of remote controls for TVs and audio equipment. Or do you still have to get up off the couch and turn the dial on your TV between channels 2-13?
post #38 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Unless you have devices that take more than 2 batteries at a time, it's unlikely you need to charge more than that at once. Although, it's possible that 2 devices will have their batteries run down at exactly the same time, it's not likely to happen very frequently. Apple's AA devices each now take 2 batteries -- and, obviously, their motivation is to make a charger for use with your Apple devices -- so recharging 2 at a time seems entirely reasonable, otherwise, you are paying for charger capacity that you aren't using most of the time.

I basically agree, but for the record, most of the Apple wireless keyboards sold to date use three batteries, not two and it's reasonable to assume that people have other products besides Apple products that need AA batteries.

I understand totally why Apple did it the way they did, but it's not without it's drawbacks and gotchas. Being an owner of a three battery keyboard that's still practically brand new, I would certainly prefer that Apple went with the more standard 6 battery charger.

Methinks the designers assumed rather a bit too much in terms of usage scenarios for this product.
post #39 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCC View Post

This is not a very good review.

First.
"Based on the designed life cycle and anticipated user scenario, Apple says that its batteries will offer a service life of up to 10 years. Apple also claims that the included six AA batteries have an "extraordinarily low self-discharge rate," and can sit without use for a year and maintain 80 percent of their original charge. The real test, of course, will come after months of use with the batteries. As anyone who has used other rechargeables can attest, the batteries often do not continue to hold a charge after less than 10 months, let alone 10 years."

I think you're misreading what it says. Apple means that you will be able to use these batteries for 10 years, not that it will hold the same charge for 10 years. This is a long service life since most of my rechargeables have barely lasted 4 in the past.

Second.
You should tell us other stats about the charger. For example, how long does it take to fully charge a battery after you drain it? How warm does the battery get when you're charging? We want to know what mAh does the charger charge the battery, if it's high like 800 mAh, the battery will charge faster but get hotter, shortening its life.

Third.
How close are these to the existing Eneloop batteries? Perhaps they're rebranded? But Eneloop won't last 10 years. So these must be somehow different and yet the similar at the same time. How?

Can you please update you review to include my points?

The article (it's not a review) states that this is NOT a fast recharger. Most of that other info you desire isn't important to most people. Apple's specs are, so that's what they gave. Why would you even thin that the reviewer would know the answer to questions that Apple themselves aren't answering?
post #40 of 155
So it only charges two batteries at a time? Doesn't do much good for the owners of the original Apple Aluminum Wireless Keyboard (or White Wireless Keyboard) that uses THREE batteries.
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