The new VC2 charger has spring loaded battery bars that accomodate a range of battery lengths without the need for spacers. I know, awesome.
What you should know about the VC2 Plus
Chargers are a critical component with respect to lithium ion batteries. Very critical.
Xtar chargers are top notch and the VC2 is a fifth generation charger. I searched high and low for the best value (performance + price) in a modern charger and this is it.
One question that always arises is, how full is my battery? You can check this with an external volt meter, but it's about time that we integrated this into the actual charger right!? The VC2 Plus does that and more. It even estimates the time remaining to a full charge.
The VC2 Plus also allows you to charge ANY type of rechargeable battery that will fit: Li-Ion, Ni-Mh, and even Nicd. The charger automatically detects the battery type and sets the appropriate charge parameters. You can even charge two different battery types at the same time because of the 2 separate charging channels.
The last cool feature of the VC2 Plus is the USB-OUT function. That means you can put a full battery into the charger and use that battery to charge an external USB device...like your cell phone.
Be advised, you can plug the VC2 into any USB port to initiate a charge; however, a standard USB port only delivers 500mA of current. This is enough to fully power one charging channel. If you put in 2 batteries the current gets divided by 2. If you use the 2A USB wall adapter you can charge 2 batteries at 1000mA per channel.
If are a hardcore "input" person you can check out Battery University for tons (and tons) of information.
>> CHARGE TIME:
A lot of people ask how long a battery takes to charge. That depends on how deeply the battery is depleted. That said, the VC2 should take no more than 5-6 hours to charge a depleted battery. If it takes a lot longer than that...you let the battery get "too" low.
The MC1 is not a "fast charger," or at least not as fast as some chargers. There are two reasons this is good. First, the charger uses a current of 500mA and this relatively low current makes it possible to charge from a USB port. Second, the AW batteries can be charged with up to 2000mA safely, but charging at high current reduces total battery life span.
>> BATTERY CARE:
In my personal use, I will put the battery on the charger if I've used it for more than 10-20 minutes. At this level of shallow discharge the battery will top up in 40-80 minutes.
DO NOT leave the battery in the charger for an extended period of time. Overnight is fine. The MC1 has a safety feature to prevent over-charge, but best practice dictates that you should remove the battery when the charge cycle is complete.
The Xtar VC2 has a "charge checking" feature that will periodically check the battery voltage if it's left in the cradle. When the voltage drops below 4.0V the charger will proceed to fill the battery back up to 4.2V. The VC2 will not begin a charge if the battery is above 4.0V.
If you put a battery on the charger and the LED stays green, this means your battery is above 4.0V and ready for use.
Please note, deeply discharging a li-ion battery also reduces its life span.
Unlike other chemistries, li-ion has no "memory effect" so you can charge it any time without loosing capacity. In other words, it's best for battery health to recharge frequently rather than waiting till the battery is "dead."
Deep discharge may even damage a battery permanently. If you notice the light dimming you should recharge or install a fresh battery immediately.
>> ESSENTIAL FEATURES FOR A LI-ION BATTERY CHARGER:
1) Accurate ending voltage. Li-ion batteries are not capable of absorbing over charge like some other chemistries. This means it's critical that a li-ion battery never exceed 4.2 volts. The information I've gathered from other users is that the MC1 does a good job of ending the charge at, or below, the maximum allowable voltage. In fact, it errs on the slightly low side...often around 4.1 to 4.15 volts.
Some power users are bothered by the fact that it doesn't charge really close to 4.2 volts. In my opinion, this is an advantage because you trade a couple of minutes of run time for increased battery life span. The closer you charge a li-ion to it's absolute maximum capacity, the more it degrades the battery's total usable life.
2) Complete charge termination. This (in my opinion) is the most critical feature for a li-ion charger. This means the charge current is FULLY cut off once the battery is charged. The funny thing is, many generic chargers specifically made for li-ion batteries DO NOT have this feature. They continue to apply a small amount of current even after the battery is full. If you remember...li-ion cannot absorb over charge. Over charge leads to heat build up and if left unchecked may cause the cell fail catastrophically. In other words, catch fire.
Woah! Okay I know you might suddenly be thinking li-ion batteries are dangerous. Keep in mind that virtually every modern laptop and cell phone uses li-ion batteries...and this is why having a high quality charger (and batteries) is very important. This is also the reason I won't sell anything but Xtar chargers and AW batteries.
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