Ultralast Charger Comes with Hybrio Batteries, and can run off USBport (plus 120-240 VAC and 12 VDC)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by SMS, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. SMS

    SMS Guest

    I was in Fry's at lunch today, and I saw a new NiMH charger from
    Ultralast that is bundled with 4 AA Hybrio batteries. It has an LCD that
    indicates the charge level of each cell (so presumably it has four
    independent channels), and can be plugged into a computer's USB port (as
    well as the usual AC or DC power sources).

    The package had very little information about the charger, other than
    saying "90 minute charging." Presumably low rate charging is possible by
    using the USB port, since the USB port is supposed to be limited to
    500mA (in reality it can usually supply 1A before shutting down).

    It's not on the Ultralast web site yet, nor did a Google search find it
    SMS, Jul 6, 2007
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  2. SMS

    Jer Guest

    Do you recall where it was made?
    Jer, Jul 6, 2007
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  3. SMS

    ASAAR Guest

    You appear to be making another of your unwarranted assumptions.
    If the 90 minute charge time applies only to the low capacity Hybrio
    batteries, that still requires nearly 3 amp-hours per cell, or 12 Ah
    to charge all four Hybrio batteries using independent circuits, so
    to charge them in 90 minutes would require 8 amps, 2a per cell. In
    the reality that most people inhabit, USB ports do *not* usually
    supply 1A before shutting down. They're supposed to be able to
    supply half of that, and some supply less. But even if the USB port
    could supply 500ma to the charger, the current must be shared by all
    devices on that USB port, so nothing other than the charger could be

    So using the USB's full power capacity would turn that 90 minute
    charger into a 16 hour charger. I don't think so. If Ultralast
    wanted to make it a dual rate 90min/trickle charger, it would have
    done it with a switch. Creating a charger that can also trickle
    charge, but only if it's plugged into a USB port would be quite a
    stupid design. As a quick "reality" check, Energizer's CHFCV NiMH
    charger supplies 200ma when charging AA cells in pairs, so even
    though it wasn't designed to be powered by a USB port, a USB port
    would be able to supply the required 400ma of current. The CHFCV's
    specifications show that to charge 2,100 to 2,500mA cells takes 15
    to 16.5 hours, about what the calculation shows that the Ultralast
    charger would take if it was powered by a USB port. Again, I don't
    think so.

    More likely, the USB port on the charger is there for the purpose
    of allowing it to charge cell phones, PDAs and mp3 players.
    Duracell makes a similar charger that has independent charging
    circuits, is supplied with four NiMH AA cells (not Hybrios,
    obviously), and also has a USB port. It is NOT powered by the USB
    port. The Duracell charger's USB port is used to charge USB devices.
    ASAAR, Jul 7, 2007
  4. SMS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Is anything made anywhere but China now? Sigh.
    Ron Hunter, Jul 7, 2007
  5. SMS

    SMS Guest

    LOL, that's what I was going to say!

    Still, there are different levels of quality, even if something is made
    in China.

    I have no idea of the quality of this specific charger, though it seems
    like a bit more care was included in at least the feature set, i.e.

    1. It has an LCD that shows charge level of each cell, rather than an
    LED for each battery (some chargers only have a single LED for the whole
    set of batteries, such as the Kodak K6100 mentioned by someone else).

    2. It can be powered by a USB port. While there are many chargers that
    can be powered from a USB port, they are usually very basic chargers.
    The only three I've found that can be powered by the USB port (and are
    functionally acceptable in terms of other features) are the Tenergy
    T60008, and the Suncocell SCR-A099. I once had a Panasonic charger that
    had this capability, but it had other problems, and was recalled by

    3. Bundled with Hybrio batteries, so at least they are not cheaping out.

    Ultralast is from Uniross, which is the importer of the Hybrio batteries.

    Next time I'm at Fry's I'll get the UPC code. There was no model number
    visible from the outside of the package.
    SMS, Jul 7, 2007
  6. The Hybrios themselves are made in China [as are all Spectrum batteries like
    the Rayovac Hybrids], so presumably the charger is as well ;-)
    Thomas T. Veldhouse, Jul 9, 2007
  7. And as we all know, the most popular device every to have the ability to be
    recharged via the USB port is the Apple iPod. Just another worthless trend if
    you ask me ... charging via USB.
    Thomas T. Veldhouse, Jul 9, 2007
  8. http://www.usbgeek.com/prod_detail.php?prod_id=0320

    Well, not actually "charged". But, part of the "worthless trend".

    Allodoxaphobia, Jul 9, 2007
  9. SMS

    SMS Guest

    It's actually very convenient. It's become a super-standard for low
    current devices, with AC to USB adapters, cigarette lighter plugs to USB
    adapters, and USB power sockets on devices like inverters. When
    traveling with a notebook PC you can leave all the other wall warts at
    home, and charge from USB.

    The USB NiMH battery chargers are necessarily low current, but still
    practical for overnight charging. ASAAR is wrong of course about the USB
    port on the Ultralast charger being there as an output port to charge
    other devices, it's one of three ways of powering the charger, same as
    the two other chargers I listed with that capability. There are a load
    of other such chargers as well, though powering from USB makes it less
    desirable to do individual charging circuits because of the limited current.
    SMS, Jul 9, 2007
  10. SMS

    John Turco Guest

    <edited, for brevity>

    Hello, Steven:

    It depends. Name-brand stuff (Kodak, Epson, etc.), from China, is fine;
    whereas, Chinese-made items, bearing obscure badges, can be disasters
    waiting to happen (and often >are<).

    John Turco <>
    John Turco, Jul 9, 2007
  11. SMS

    ASAAR Guest

    I didn't say that the USB port on the Ultralast charger would be
    used to charge USB devices. I said that without more information
    (you provided none) it probably would be used to supply USB power
    rather than use the USB port as a power source, since to do it that
    way would be a pretty stupid design. If you're correct, that the
    Ultralast charger actually gets power from the USB port, then it
    really is a poor design.

    Energizer also makes a USB charger that's powered through the USB
    port, and it probably charges much faster than the Ultralast, taking
    only about 5 hours to charge 2,500mAh NiMH cells. But because it's
    limited to the USB power supply, it can only charge one or two NiMH
    cells at a time. Energizer's Product Datasheet also warns that :
    What this means is that if the charger has to share the USB bus
    with other devices so that it can't draw the full 500ma that it
    wants to use, which is also the design spec. for the USB's 5v power
    supply, it will drop to a slow charge rate, drawing only 100ma from
    the USB port. Guess what happens to the charge time? It jumps from
    5 hours to well over 20 hours to finish charging only two AA cells!

    Since the Ultralast charger can charge four AA cells
    simultaneously, if it uses the full 500ma of the USB's power supply,
    it could charge the cells in as little as 10 hours, much slower than
    the 90 minutes when powered by A.C. But it would then also have to
    deal with other devices sharing the USB, and either drop down to an
    incredibly slow rate when other USB devices are used, or start off
    using less than the full 500ma for the charger. If it only draws
    350ma, it would probably charge 2,500mAh cells in 14 hours, and
    there are several other slow, 'overnight' chargers that take that
    long. If it draws 250ma, then it would take 20 hours to charge, but
    that's so much longer than 'overnight' that I doubt that Ultralast
    would use that as it's maximum charge rate. Why not buy one of the
    Ultralast chargers and end the speculation? You'd also get four of
    the Hybrio Li-Ion killers. <g>

    Last - getting back to the stupidity of the design, if for some
    reason you want to use a slow charge rate, the right way to do it
    with an AC powered charger is to provide a switch to select between
    high and low charge rates. Requiring that the charger get its power
    from the USB port to get the slow charge rate is pretty stupid,
    because most people would keep a computer running all night long
    just to be able to provide the USB power to the charger. That's
    incredibly, stupidly, wastefully inefficient. But if you don't
    notify Al Gore, I'll keep the lips zipped too. :)
    ASAAR, Jul 9, 2007
  12. SMS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    hardly worthless. I charge my GPS battery that way when traveling, and
    I find it very convenient to NOT have to mess with finding another
    outlet in the motel room, and mess with yet another charger. Plug it in
    before I go to bed and it is fully charged by morning.
    Ron Hunter, Jul 9, 2007
  13. SMS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Ron Hunter, Jul 9, 2007
  14. SMS

    SMS Guest

    SMS, Jul 9, 2007
  15. SMS

    ASAAR Guest

    It did for me. It showed a USB powered pencil sharpener.
    ASAAR, Jul 9, 2007
  16. SMS

    SMS Guest

    Yeah, makes much more sense to add another connector to the device for
    charging, plus in that way you can add another unique wall wart to your
    collection. In reality, the mini-USB connector is the best hope we have
    to reduce the proliferation of different power plugs on low-current devices.

    I wonder how many wall warts are present in the average home. Now the
    first thing I do when I unpack a device is to label the wall wart, at
    the plug end, with a description of what it goes to.

    Powering/charging from USB is a great idea in many cases. 500mA is
    sufficient for a lot of devices, and of course most USB ports can supply
    up to 1000mA. As we see with USB powered NiMH chargers, you can even
    trade off speed for convenience, with lower current but longer charge time.

    I added two sections to the web site.

    First I added a section "USB Current Limits" since some people don't
    understand how the USB current limits actually work.

    Second, I added a section on how these chargers that can accept
    different DC input voltages work.

    SMS, Jul 9, 2007
  17. SMS

    ASAAR Guest

    It would be nice (not to mention honest) if you'd list a few of
    the products that have USB ports that can supply 1000mA. Otherwise
    this can only be seen as another of your bogus, unsubstantiated
    claims. 500mA may be sufficient for many devices, but it is NOT
    sufficient for a battery charger unless you don't mind it being a
    *very* slow charger. Energizer's USB powered charger gets by with
    only a moderately slow charge time, but does so by only having the
    capability of charging up to two AA cells at a time, and even here,
    if the USB has to provide power to any other devices, the charge
    time leaps from 5 hours to well over 20 hours. So using two of
    Energizer's USB chargers at the same time to be able to charge 4 AA
    cells wouldn't really help very much. Charging two sets of 4 AA
    NiMH cells that way would take a full weekend! :)

    Now if Ultralast also makes a charger that can use the USB port to
    charge USB devices (as the Duracell charger is able to do), *that*
    could really be useful. And for hikers that might need to travel
    very light but want to have some way of charging their cell phones,
    or their little mp3 player's Li-Ion batteries (ruling out carrying a
    laptop in a backpack), Energizer also makes several USB chargers.
    One model uses a single AA battery, and the other uses two. They're
    both small enough that several could fit in a small shirt pocket.

    They are also widely available, being sold in many convenience
    stores (Rite-Aid, CVS, Walgreens) and supermarkets (Pathmark), etc.
    The one that uses two AA cells includes two lithium AA cells, but
    alkaline AA cells do almost as well, and are much more cost
    effective. I could use that for my Sony mp3 player, but it wouldn't
    be necessary for my small iAudio mp3 player because it gets 50 hours
    of life from a single alkaline AA battery. In this case I could get
    up to 150 hours from the iAudio player by using the Energizer USB
    charger just as a small case to hold two spare AA batteries. :)
    ASAAR, Jul 9, 2007
  18. SMS

    GMAN Guest

    I agree. i plug in my Kids Sandisk Sansa C250's into the back of my DirecTV
    tivo (Its USB ports are rather useless unless the TIVO is hacked) every few
    nights to charge the batteries up.
    GMAN, Jul 9, 2007
  19. [A complimentary Cc of this posting was sent to
    You are confused. USB is not symmetric. So the answer is very
    simple: if it is a USB client port, it is (probably) for powering the
    charger (probably in long-charge mode; not a big deal, IMO - if there
    is no alternative). If it is host port, it is (probably) to be a
    power source for USB-powered devices.

    Wikipedia should provide enough info to distinguish client ports from
    host ones. (If non-mini, client is squarish, and host is

    Hope this helps,
    Ilya Zakharevich, Jul 10, 2007
  20. SMS

    ASAAR Guest

    15:46, aka 11:15:46pm +0000 (UTC, which may or may not be
    Greenwich or Zulu time), a complimentary Cc of this posting was
    neither created nor sent to Ilya Zakharevich, who previously created
    his own complimentary Cc which will never arrive where he intended
    it to go, and who wrote like a man possessed:
    You are the confused party. Read the thread again. Someone else
    saw the charger in a store and did NOT describe the type of
    connector on the charger. He even said that the package provided
    little information, and mentioned little more than it had a 90
    minute charging time, but *guessed* that the USB port was supplying
    power to the charger, and if used that way, would take much longer
    to charge than 90 minutes. That much I agree with, if that's how
    the charger was designed. But try to understand this. Absolutely
    NO information has yet been provided that accurately describes the
    function of the charger's USB connector. The one I own works the
    way I said, and it is used to charge USB devices, not to power the
    charger. I admitted that the one described could be either type,
    and there is unfortunately little information about it. The
    manufacturer doesn't even have it listed on their website.

    What *you* should do is think very carefully after you read
    messages. Maybe even re-read them a few times before replying since
    you have a tendency to not understand what you've read, and make
    replies that don't help anyone, although I'll admit that unlike a
    certain SMS we all know and love, your replies are well intentioned.

    Hope this helps,
    Not Ilya
    Not SMS
    Not that it matters. :)
    ASAAR, Jul 10, 2007
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