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Review of XTar's XP4c

posted Aug 25, 2014, 7:45 AM by Low Kian Seong   [ updated Dec 13, 2014, 9:39 PM ]

Review of XP4C

How do you improve on a well liked charger without increasing the price of the charger or making the charger more convoluted that it already is ?

When I was first given the chance to review the XP4C which is the follow up or should I say the cheaper ("c" for cheap ?) to XTar's initial foray into NiMh battery charging: XP4, I approached it with some trepidation. When I saw the functionality they got rid off, it seemed like aggressive "dumb"-ing down of the charger to me. Here is a list of differences between XP4 and XP4c:

  1. Gone is the ability to choose the charging current of your batteries. Now it's determined automatically based on which slot you choose for charging your batteries.
  2. The other one to go is the discharge via usb function. This of course means that XP4c now is purely a battery charger only.

I was just afraid that too "aggressive" changes was made to the charger that we ended up with an even bigger lemon than it was before. The changes that XTar made to the charger ended up being good. I guess for the changes, XTar went back a little to the drawing board and used the Unix philosophy of "Do one thing and do it well".

The two side slots are bigger than the 2 middle slots. When one or two batteries are placed in slot 1 or 4 the charger will automatically choose 1A charging current. When one or two batteries are filled in 2 or 3, then 0.5A will be chosen. If > 2 batteries are plugged in, 0.5A will automatically be chosen. The automatic picking of current is predictable and seems to work well every time. My initial fear of one of the move of removing the choice from the user worked out well for the charger. XTar is an organization that asks feedback from users and based on their follow up to XP4, they seems to have taken feedback from users to heart. Gone is the 0.25A current setting which had problems in the earlier version with charging termination.

I like what has been done with the interface. XTar found a cost effective of idiot-proofing the charger without having to jack up the cost. Kudos to that.

Charging just works and my testing found termination works for all my batteries and it's predictable vs. the older XP4 which would have problems terminating charging batteries, especially if 0.25A was chosen. I do remember making a suggestion to XTar to remove the 0.25A choice because that current setting is just too low to detect and terminate charging correctly, guess they came through with the changes.

So am I saying that XTar got every single thing right about this charger and there is absolutely nothing to complain about ? For something as simple as charging - discharging batteries, the fact that you have got to refer to the attached manual to find out how to activate the discharge mode shows how hidden or confusing the function really is. The discharge mode is enabled or activated using a sequence of putting a cell into the slot and removing it and then putting the cell back into the slot. 

More images ...



Sequence for discharging batteries

  1. Put battery to be discharge into charge slot, once the LED turns red, pull it out.
  2. Wait 3 seconds then put battery back into charge slot.
  3. LED will blink red-green to indicate that discharge mode has been activated and battery is discharging.

As I said, out of the box without reading the manual, I was at a loss of how to get my battery to discharge. Plus, the time taken to discharge and charge up a battery was just so long, I initially removed the battery half way thinking that it had missed termination again and was not working correctly. The process of discharging / charging could have been faster if we could have a way to choose 1A as the discharge current, also the current that is used to charge up after discharging is 0.5A and there is no way of forcing a 1A current. After reading the manual and leaving the battery in the unit for many hours though, I found that each time it charged up the battery after discharging correctly.

It would have been nice too to see on this charger the ability to cycle (discharge-charge) 4 cells at once instead of just one.

All in all I am happy with this release of XP4c, but for people out there you must temper your expectations. If you are looking for a charger that allows you to tinker more with the battery charging process, you are probably better off looking somewhere else. This is the charger for those of you who want to just dump the batteries in there and get the job done with fuss and without you having to monitor or observe the charging process every 10 minutes.

All things considered, I like the changes made with this charger as a "cheaper" version of XP4 as it's very usable and practical. 4.5 out of 5. The 0.5 taken off because of the slight confusion you have with the discharge function and I also wish that more of the slots can do the discharge with a higher discharge current value. 

A good place to get this would be on Amazon (if you are in US / Canada) : XP4C on Amazon





Review of Xtar's BK12

posted Apr 13, 2014, 10:04 AM by Low Kian Seong   [ updated Dec 13, 2014, 9:41 PM ]

I have always wanted to try out Xtar's range of torch lights, so recently when Ken of Xtar offered me to review the BK12 from their lineup, I jumped at the opportunity. I always wondered about how good Xtar's torches are and they are not easy to get over here in Malaysia. They look really good from their catalogs.

The torch light itself comes in a breathtakingly beautiful case cum bag with a charger and other accessories. This is definitely a plus point. What I like about Xtar products in general is that they really "optimize" what you pay them and you feel that what you pay goes a long way with their products.

Take a look at what is offered below:

Take a look at that bad ass bag that they provide to come together with the BK12! A thing of beauty no ?



Definitely something I would not mind lugging around showing off my torches in ! I love this! Well what is the contents ?



Inside the bag you get:
  • One charger which can double over for a usb charger for your phone
  • One bicycle holder if you want to attach your torch to your bike for night riding
  • Guarantee cards and manuals
  • Car adapter to charge your batteries from your car.

As you can see here, it's a nice torch .... with innards built as great as what is outside. Let me tell you when you hold this baby in your hands there will be no doubt in your mind where all the quality of this item is. The torch itself is built like a tank from the inside and carries the beauty of a bat mobile from the outside.



In terms of competitors, this is closest to Fenix PD32 (That's the other torch that I have), their feature set is very similar so I put them as competitors. Lets look at the torch itself. The torch uses one 18650 battery. Mine came with one of Xtar's 18650s. The torch itself feels solid in the hand and handles well. The size is just a few centimeters longer than PD32 and has a slightly bigger diameter compared to PD32.

Functionality / Functions

The torch itself in terms of modes has about the same as the PD32. It has 4 modes which is "High", "Mid", "Low" and "Signal". The control for the unit is a via a turn knob at the back of the torch light. I wonder about how durable is this knob as it looks and feels a bit fragile compared to the rest of the torch light, but then I did not face any problems in the time I was using it.

The on/off switch is at the back of the unit. Will it stay if you lay it flat ? No. By itself no, In the handling, actually I prefer the mode switch to be via a small switch at the front of the torch somewhat like PD32's as with BK12, I found that most of the time I could not change the mode of the light using just one hand. Having the mode switch at the front where the thumb can easily access it just feels like a more natural position for me.  Most times in order to change modes especially in my non-dominant hand, I found that I had to resort to using both of my hands.

The light itself has a bigger "center section" compared to PD32. This is where the BK12 wins over PD32. I like the brightness of BK12 better.

As an EDC, BK12 will be a tad challenged as it does not have a clip like PD32 and the unit itself has a slightly bigger diameter and bigger girth. The light itself is a natural light and is more natural on the view compared to PD32. The comparisons can be seen below. The light has a slightly yellowish tone compared to the natural color of Fenix's entry:

This first one is the light from BK2



Another photo of the same light's



Now lets take a look at PD32's light


From what I can observe from seeing the center circle side by side, BK2 and PD32 intensity seems to be the same, the difference seems to be that the BK12 intensity seems to "bleed out" outside of the center circle more.

Built / Ruggedness

In terms of drop test / under water tests, this torch passes with flying colors, though I would say drop it too many times and you are liable to have a
really ugly torch. It will work but then it won't really win any beauty contests as the paint will chip off the body. The o-rings in the torch looks seems to keep water out well and during my initial test with the unit no water breached the hull sort to speak. The larger diameter of the unit lends itself to a more natural "hold" in the hand and it will end up something that you will like to hold through out the day. The tapered middle section feels very natural in the hands. The on/off switch is not protruding like PD32 and this enables Xtar's BK12 to stand upright on either end.

You can see the side by side comparison of the two torches below:



Safe for a few cosmetic differences, they look and feel like identical torches.

Conclusion

What can I say, when a company gives such value for money there is very little room they can go wrong. I absolutely love this torch, in summary the only few niggles I can think of is:

  • The lack of a clip to make this an effective EDC
  • That selector at the back seems a bit weak/fragile compared to the rest of the body.
  • The longer form factor will be a stretch to carry in the pocket

These few details though does not stop me from bestowing a 4.5/5 for this great torch light. A must get for your collection!

To try one out you can head over to Amazon: XTAR 600Lm 4 mode bike light on Amazon



Kuantan House .... the end

posted Feb 8, 2013, 4:21 PM by Low Kian Seong

Most of my stuff in the Kuantan house cleared up. It feels like ripping parts of my past when I throw away all of the items collected in that house. In the end 90% of the 'rubbish' in that house has been cleared up. Once it's rented out, I guess when we go back to Kuantan, we will really be going as 'guests'.

Strange times in Kuantan

posted Aug 13, 2011, 10:07 AM by Low Kian Seong   [ updated Aug 13, 2011, 10:32 AM ]

I am at home now, sitting at the same position that my dad sat all those years ago over looking my mom and me. It feels strange almost eerie to me how times and events seems to repeat. Situations in my life is almost chaotic now when I come back to Kuantan. Mom still looks out of it to me, almost denying life itself. Walks around like a zombie waiting for the moment to come and take the life away from her. Juxtapose that against Dhea whose thirst for life is so great that it's impossible to feel bad around her. Half the house is shutdown and as though in cue, bobo died today with hdd problems, just too tired to get it fixed, knowing that I won't really be using it much, part of me wants to rescue it feeling that rescuing it could somehow resurrect my house from it's dying embers. 

I want to get things right with mom, to at least break out of this cycle that I feel we are in, but I wonder how or what must I do to reach her. Is she so far gone that reaching her would be impossible ? Today as we were cleaning out the tins what she has collected over the span of I think 5 years, it felt as though we were collecting the evidence of her loneliness being alone here all those years. One by one as the bundles of tins we hurled into the car, the years she spent here being alone, I could almost hear or feel as the tins clanged around loudly. 

This is just so strange to me watching her almost disintegrate infront of me, not having a care in life but in a bad way. Instead of climbing up the emotional levels, she is climbing down to helplessness ? I struggle with this. Is it in my power of responsibility to save her? Everyone is acting as though her being in the old folks home is the most natural and best thing. Can't anyone but me see that is not the most ideal thing for her. What must I do to break out of this ? Accept that ?  

I want this to end. I see a future of her being with Dhea and me. Now I must make her see that. Make her see who is waiting for her. The generation after me. Dhea must get to know her grandmother.

Dhea Hannah Low aka DHL

Check out that cheeky face of hers. Some things that I notice that she takes after me is what I coin that "silent stubbornness", she never takes no for an answer and no matter how many times you try to stop her doing something, say for example crawling into the kitchen, turn your back for 30s and you see her right where you told her not to be. Whenever that happens, it always reminds me of the story my mom told me once when I was young she punished me for being bad and told me to stand outside the house hoping that would scare me straight for whatever I did to warrant the punishment (escapes me now), she slammed the door shut on me. 10 minutes later after noticing that there was hardly a whimper from me she opened the door to find her son missing! I was on my way to look for my dad (our house was quite near to my dad's working place, Golden Star last time now which has since turned into 7 Eleven). Funny thing is, to me I was not even thinking about being stubborn, I was just thinking, "Hey if you don't want to see me, I might as well go and look up dad !" I hope that was what I thought, you never know and it surprised me a few times about how leaky our memory could be. 

Weddings ... are like dodos

posted Dec 25, 2010, 11:03 AM by Low Kian Seong   [ updated Dec 25, 2010, 11:11 AM ]

Got back from a wedding with mom. While sitting there waiting for our long overdue food, watching people resorting to satisfy their hunger eating chillies the thought crossed my mind, these big elaborate weddings are like dinosaurs. They have long passed their shelf lives. No one really wants to be here nor do they feel they are in any way close to the bride or groom. They probably feel that since they they were "summoned" to this wedding, they might as well make the best of it by food. No one is talking to each other and everybody just bolts to the door when even the whiff of the last dish arrives ... (traditionally a sweetener). 

I predict that huge wedding dinners are going the way of the dodo as soon as we are done with the older generation. Once that is out of the door, you will see no more of this weddings, which to me is a shame as in a kind of strange way I like these weddings because:
1. I never have to pay for them. This is another one of my gripe with these things. These people invite you and for the life of me I really don't see why we got to like cough up money to give to them when we go. There is even a bloody market rate for how much you are supposed to give!
2. There is nice food
3. Most of the time you get to see some really sexy aunty trying to squeeze their ample body into these dresses better suited for their daughters and what can I say I am a MILF fan ..

Anyway, I am just going to make the best of the situation currently and enjoy these things while they are here for god knows my daughter will never have to go through this for me.

Feel out of sorts and body reflects it

posted May 13, 2010, 12:01 PM by Low Kian Seong

Feeling out of sorts and sorta angry at everything. When I do the physical thing, bang stuff around and let it rise up to anger it feels better. Feels relief. That means it's moving up the emotional ladder. Funny though why would I be stuck at this stage for so long. Feel a bit off about how business is handled and how it's growing. I see the potential of it shooting up sky high and moments I spent with the youngerns spark a nice feeling in me. A feeling of confidence that this is the way to go that this might work but things change when I look at renumeration or providing a stable base. I won't even talk about that, but that puts me in a mood of blame most of the time.

Body is direct reflection of that. It can perform but it feels stuck and fragile as though too much work or speed will break it down. I want to know how to create dependability in my life. Stability. Focusing on stability? I want to feel stability and stroke it into a flame so that it would attract that in my life. I am getting good at analyzing and know exactly how I feel at a certain time. Sounds like the easiest thing in the world. Knowing yourself how you feel, but it is the most challenging aspect of ABE's teaching to me. I feel that in the past I was up there in contentment a few times when I really turned on the appreciation and list works superbly well with me. Now, I realize that I have moved on beyond that. I recognize where I am and I am going to bring myself up from where I am.

Another on the way

posted May 10, 2010, 8:56 AM by Low Kian Seong   [ updated May 10, 2010, 8:58 AM ]

Young guy turned in letter today. Glad to say another one is well on his way. From a young dude who knew only his studies coming in, he has blossomed to be a self confident professional who knows what he wants and how to ask for it. Good! Glad that another is out of the oven, and ready to roll :)

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