Name: Rechargeable Accu range - StayCharged Cells, Instant Charger, Fast 1 Hour Charger and Easy Charger (Duracell)
Type: Rechargeable batteries, battery chargers and portable USB power
Prices: Instant Charger - £34.99, Fast 1 Hour Charger - £29.99, Easy Charger - £8.13 (Amazon)
It can be hard to get very excited about rechargeable batteries, but this latest Rechargeable Accu range of cells and chargers from Duracell do a good job of grabbing your attention. Tidily designed as far as chargers go and efficient when at work, Tech Digest recently got to have some extensive testing time with the gear.
Duracell claim the range have been inspired by the "current fashion trend for sleek, sculptural shapes" and brands such as BMW and Apple. While it's a stretch to call the chargers pretty in their own right, it's nice to see some synergy across the set, with the copper-topped Duracell look making an appearance across all the gear.
The first of the sold-separately devices we played about with was the Instant Charger, designed for portable USB to USB Mini power when away from a powered USB connection. Pocket friendly at 45 grams and roughly two inches in length, the Instant Charger, once charged itself for about 2 or 3 hours, made good on its promise of an additional 50 hours iPod playback and 180 iPhone minutes. Charging two items at once from the Instant Charger impressively didn't really affect the results too much, while an on/off switch made it easy to preserve power on the device when not in use. However, the lack of a packed-in Apple cable seems a bit stingy, considering the number of people who'd benefit from one.
Next up were the new AA StayCharged cells and associated battery chargers. The StayCharged batteries come pre-charged, which is a relief for those looking for some instant power from their new batteries. While we haven't had the time to test Duracell's claim that the batteries retain 80% of their charge after up to a year when not in use, the 5X longer battery life promise compared to other brands emblazoned on the packaging seems fair. Tech Digest got somewhere in the region of a week's worth of pretty extensive Wii remote play from a pair of StayCharged cells.
While the Easy Charger, coming with two 1700mAh AA rechargeable batteries is pretty standard fare (charging two AA or AAA batteries in 6-8 hours) the Fast 1 Hour Charger was more interesting. Again packaged with two 1700mAh AA and two 800mAh AAA rechargeable batteries, the Fast 1 Hour charger re-juiced up to four AA or AAA batteries in a little over an hour, with an LED indicator to let us know when they were ready. While 1 hour chargers are not that uncommon these days, Duracell's offering consistently refilled our batteries to maximum capacity whereas other chargers have half-heartedly only topped them up briefly. We'd have preferred if the charger had had an integrated power adaptor instead of having another unsightly plug lying around, but that's merely a matter of taste and didn't effect the efficiency of the charger.
All in, the Rechargeable Accu range are great accessories to any gadget enthusiasts catalogue of battery-munching devices. Not as pretty as Duracell would perhaps like to have you believe, nor as uniquely powerful, they do however get the job done, and get it done well.