A battery charger is a battery charger, isn't it? Not in this case. Maha's Wizard One will not only charge, but will look after your NiMh batteries, reducing the harmful memory effect that can build up over time.
Maha C-9000 Wizard One Intelligent Charger and Analyser: Specification
- Four independent slots for AA or AAA batteries
- Large Backlit display
- Displays capacity, voltage, time and current
- Five modes of operation
- Special forming charge and cycling mode
- 30 user-selectable charging and discharging speeds
- Heavy users of NiMh rechargeable batteries will appreciate being able to keep their batteries in tip-top condition and this device is aimed squarely at these people.
Maha C-9000 Wizard One Intelligent Charger and Analyser: Features
Personally, I'm quite a heavy battery user. My flashgun permanently has a set of Sanyo Eneloop batteries installed and I can quite happily burn through a fully-charged set on a job. Maha's C-9000 charger interests me in particular because it sports many more features for taking care of your rechargeables than your standard charger, most of which are split into five modes of operation including - Charge, Refresh/Analyse, Break in, Discharge, and Cycle.
Maha say that this product is from the future. We think it's a marketing ploy as they aren't marketing the time machine yet.
The four charging circuits are independent, which is quite important in maintaining the condition of each individual cell. Normal chargers will only charge the set up to the capacity of the weakest battery, so if you have one dud in there, this could induce harmful memory effects on all of them.
For the review I used a set of Maha's own IMedion batteries along with my own Eneloops. Both these types of battery are great for flashguns as they don't lose charge quickly when not being used. I found the IMedion batteries to be every bit as good at the Sanyos during my time using them.
The Charge mode does exactly what you might expect. You can set the charge rate higher or lower so that your batteries are charged faster or slower. I found at the maximum charge rate of 2amps would charge my 2000mAh batteries in just under two hours, which is certainly not the fastest charge time available, but more than acceptable for my usage.
Refresh/Analyse charges the batteries, then discharges them, and finally charges them again finishing off with a readout of what the current capacity of each battery is. This mode is designed to reduce the chance of batteries being harmed by memory build up.
Break in is used for fresh batteries, to get them up and running at their best from their first use and also to condition them to maximise the capacity of each cell. Normally fresh batteries require a few complete charge/discharge cycles before they will operate at their best, so the C-9000 performs this action for you, saving you the hassle.
The Discharge function comes with no surprises, except you can change the rate at which the power is depleted. It is best to perform this action if your batteries are likely to be stored unused for a long period of time.
The cycle mode performs a full recharge/discharge cycle on your cells, which is basically the same as the Refresh/Analyse mode but without the analysis.
The LCD screen will keep you up to date on what it's doing for you. While this is great, it makes the charger much bigger.
Maha C-9000 Wizard One Intelligent Charger and Analyser: Performance
During my time with the Maha C-9000, I found it almost as easy to use as any other charger. Basically you can switch it on, tell it what to do and leave it to it. The controls on the unit are very easy to operate and straightforward to understand. Most people will be able to get going without reading the manual before use.
Charging is quick enough for my purposes on the maximum setting and the level of information displayed can be very useful. For example, one of my own batteries from a set was not holding its charge properly, which the charger correctly diagnosed. This meant I could bin that battery alone, allowing the other three to be used again. The Refresh/Analyse cycle can take a while to complete if not at the maximum settings, but running it on a couple of older sets of batteries has made them perform slightly better than before.
The charger unit itself is a bit on the big side, although it isn't heavy, which may be a concern for those who charge their batteries on the move. To make it up to these people, Maha have a 12volt cigarette lighter adapter available, so you can charge as you drive. I only wish they'd have included it in the box with the charger.
Maha C-9000 Wizard One Intelligent Charger and Analyser: Verdict
Although battery chargers are rarely something to get too excited about, I enjoyed using the Maha C-9000. Being a heavy user of NiMh batteries, it's good to know the ones you have with you are operating at their best and aren't going to fail you. The princely sum of £49.95 buys you extra piece-of-mind, in the knowledge that the batteries you're using aren't going to fail on you, because if they were, the charger would tell you. This alone is worth every penny in my opinion.
Maha C-9000 Wizard One Intelligent Charger and Analyser: Plus points
Easy to use
Clear and bright LCD display
Useful information about battery condition is clearly presented
Individual charging circuits
Refresh/Analyse cycle to reduce memory effect
12v cigarette lighter adapter available
Maha C-9000 Wizard One Intelligent Charger and Analyser: Minus points
Charger unit is quite large
12v cigarette lighter adapter not included
The Maha Powerex Charger and Analyser costs around £50 and more details can be gleaned from the Maha website here:
Maha Powerex Charger and Analyser