Lithium batteries have done wonders for camcorder
recording times but when you have more than one of them, it can make life
It is fair to say that lithium ion battery
technology has had a big impact on camcorder design and helped to increase
recording times but they have one big drawback, they take forever to recharge.
If you've got a couple of packs on the go and only one charger then it can
cause serious interruptions if you are trying to complete a long shoot. The
obvious answer is to get hold of a second charger but until recently that was
easier said than done. Now Keen Electronics have stepped in to fill a very
obvious gap in the market with a purpose-designed lithium charger, now selling
for a little under £50.
That sounds a lot, especially when compared
with cheapie nicad chargers, but there's a lot more to charging lithium batteries
than you might suppose. There are also several different types -- even though
they all look pretty much the same -- so Keene has wisely decided to go for a
universal design, that can handle as many different styles of pack as possible.
For the record it will charge both 3.6 volt (as used by Sharp) and 7.2 volt (as
used by just about everyone else) packs, but do check before ordering as there
are one or two makes it just can't cope with.
The charger comes with dual power supplies;
there's a 12-volt car cord that plugs into a standard cigarette lighter socket,
and a plug-in mains adaptor. Lithium cells are quite delicate little flowers so
as soon as the battery is connected to the charger it undergoes a pre-charge
qualification check that works out if there are any short or open circuits, dud
or malfunctioning cells, before it fires up the juice. The specially designed microchip
controller uses an advanced switch-mode power regulation technique to ensure
constant current and voltage throughout the charge cycle. This also helps to
keep down the temperature and unlike a lot of chargers it runs quite cools.
Charge times for a typical 1Ah pack is between 1 and two hours, depending on the
charge state. When the charger is carrying out its checks the single multicolour
LED flashes, if the pack is found to be faulty charging stops immediately. During
charge the LED glows red and when charging is complete it changes to
The standard of manufacture appears to be
very good indeed and our sample performed as advertised. If you are finding the
charger supplied with your camcorder is having difficulty keeping up with
demand this could be just what you are looking for.
Lithium Batter Charger
Guide Price £50
charge circuitry, pre-charger checker, compatible with 3.6 volt and 7.2 volt
packs for Canon, Hitachi, Panasonic, Sharp and Sony camcorders
Electronics, Unit 9, Old Hall Mills Business Park, Little Eaton, Derbyshire
DE21 5DN. Telephone (01332) 830550, www.keene.co.uk
Video Camera Ratings
Backup charger for heavy-duty camcorder users
Ó R. Maybury 1999 1801