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Lithium batteries have done wonders for camcorder recording times but when you have more than one of them, it can make life difficult

 

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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 green. 

 

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.   

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model                              Keene Lithium Batter Charger

Guide Price                               50

Features                                   Lithium-specific charge circuitry, pre-charger checker, compatible with 3.6 volt and 7.2 volt packs for Canon, Hitachi, Panasonic, Sharp and Sony camcorders

Distributor                                 Keene 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

 

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R. Maybury 1999 1801

 

 

 


 

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