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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





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