Most helpful positive review
130 of 133 people found the following review helpful
Awesome charger, if a little bewildering at first
on 23 December 2010
The Technoline BL-700 has to be one of the more capable `intelligent' chargers out there, offering several different charging options - charge, discharge, refresh and test. It holds up to 4 AA or AAA, NiMH and Ni-Cad batteries, the beauty of it being that you can mix and match as you please as each of the charging slots is independent of the others. This means that the charger monitors each slot individually, so that each battery gets the type of charge you select and the duration of charge that it needs.
In terms of its charging functions, the charge setting, as the name suggests, simply charges the batteries, while the discharge setting completely discharges the batteries before charging them, so prolonging their lifespan. The refresh function puts the batteries through 20 full charge/discharge cycles to bring them back to full health, and the test setting charges then discharges them to give a reading on how healthy they are. I've used all but the test setting and can say with certainty that each has its place - the refresh function in particular has been excellent at bringing up batteries I thought were dead.
You can also select the charging current which will vary the charging time but may affect the battery health - it is often said that a slow charge, while taking longer, is better for your batteries. I use mine on the middle setting, which seems to give the best compromise between speed and safety.
In a `dumb' battery charger, the unit charges batteries for a set time, so overcharging is a constant possibility. Being an `intelligent' charger, the BL-700 has both negative delta V charge control (probably better for you to Google it than for me to try, and fail, to explain it) and thermal charge monitoring which will stop the charging process when the batteries are charged. You don't need to set a charging time, just switch the machine on, select the charge type and current, and let the BL-700 do its stuff. All very clever.
That cleverness comes at a price, though, for at first, the array of options available is quite bewildering and the way you have to select the charging type and current you want within 8 seconds of the charger powering on, as there is no `start' button so it begins automatically, is a bit of a nuisance. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes much more intuitive, though never properly intuitive. The LCD screen, unfortunately, isn't backlit so you do need to use the charger in a well-lit area if you want to see what you're doing. I also find the battery slots to be a little close together, so the transfer of heat from one battery to another is a possibility and this could have a negative effect on the cells.
If you're a complete technophobe, or someone who would never use most of the functions the BL-700 has to offer, it perhaps isn't for you. If, on the other hand, you use rechargeable batteries frequently and don't mind using a charger that does absolutely require you to read the manual first, then the BL-700 could well be the best option for you.