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As Gordon stated, the batteries have a rating of 1300mAh (milliamp hours) which is good, though regular NiMh batteries can go as high as 2,500mah. The acid test for the batteries was to see how long they would last in a real world situation. To test then I fully charged four of the USB Cells and placed them in a Fujifilm FinePix S602Z. I then started to snapping pictures one after then other, using the LCD screen and the flash.
I was frankly, amazed how long the batteries lasted and I was snapping pictures for what seemed like hours. After a while the camera finally flashed up the battery flat icon and shut down. I placed the Compact Flash card inside my card reader and was surprised to find that I’d taken a simply astonishing 563 pictures. Admittedly, this was with continually pressing the shutter, while in more normal use the LCD panel would be on for longer while you compose shots. Even taking that into account this was remarkable staying power and even if you only got half of this it would be enough for a days use.
To compare I then tried a set of Duracell Alkaline batteries in the camera, only to find that they weren’t even strong enough to take more than a few pictures. It seems you need Duracall Plus or Ultra M3’s to deliver the amperage that a high power device such as a digital camera needs. This makes the USB Cells seems all the more impressive.
The only issue with the USB Cells is that at £12.99 they are on the expensive side, especially when you can pick up alkalines so cheaply these days. The fact that they’re only AA is also a fairly limiting factor as fewer devices run on AAs these days. There are some digital cameras that still use them, and devices like wireless keyboards, mice, and portable iPod speakers and for things like this the USB Cells are ideal. For example you can have one set in your keyboard or mouse and another set charged and on standby in a drawer.
What’s great is that Moixa has images on its web site of forthcoming versions – AAA batteries, 9V oblong batteries and perhaps most coolly, batteries for popular phones. That means no longer will you need to fill your travel bag with chargers – just the one for your laptop which then acts as your charging hub.
It’s also a far greener way of using power rather than just consistently buying and disposing of batteries. I for one, have draw full of batteries, especially as they’re needed for so many kids’ toys. (The toys are for my two year old - not for me. Well, at least most of them).
For a combination of convenience and eco-friendliness then the USB Cells get the thumbs up. Once a wider range becomes available and if the price can drop a little, then they’ll could well do for batteries what USB memory sticks did for floppy discs and virtually kill them off.
The Moixa USB Cell AA batteries are a great idea that’s well implemented. They’re a little pricey but the convenience of being able to charge from almost any USB port and do away with a bulky charger means you’ll soon want all batteries to be built this way – which judging from the USBCell web site may soon be the case.
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