Review of Xp4 from Xtarlight

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lowks
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Review of Xp4 from Xtarlight

Here is my debut review of XP4 from Xtarlight. They offered me a chance to review it and I of course jumped at it. Please be forewarned if you are expecting some indepth review with the likes of some gurus here please do not click on the link. It’s not technical. Mainly it’s just what I thought of the charger.

http://blog.lowkster.com/2013/10/review-of-xtar-xp4-charger.html

Sorry too if this is normally not the way to put up reviews (my first time). It was image heavy, so I thought it better to leave it on my own blog.

Edited by: sb56637 on 06/25/2015 - 14:28
lowks
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Hopefully the next time either when I get richer or if somehow I can get my hands on better measuring instruments, the reviews can get better Smile

southland
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Thanks for the review, nicely done.

Speedsix
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kreisler wrote:

not to sound **d* but i don’t hit dogs, squirrels, kids, girls or the poor either Wink

so it goes in order and i contain myself

 

let’s go on and live in piece

( sorry if this post is posted in the wlong thread, i feel confussed today!! klitschko won!!! )

Klitschko? Boxing? You mean that antiquated sport nobody cares about anymore now that UFC has arrived? I feel bad for the Europeans, they finally have a world champ but boxing is pretty much dead. Some say Klitschko is partially to blame because he was such a dominating and boring fighter. He killed any lingering interest in heavy weights. I remember watching him fight and thinking, ‘I wonder what else is on TV right now’.

Trevi_lux
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But seriously 8)

I do not read blogs.
I read flashlights forums.
Here I see no review.

lowks
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Understand. Will try to put up a copy here soon

Trevi_lux
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lowks wrote:
Understand. Will try to put up a copy here soon

Thanks lowks Beer
lowks
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Review of the Xtar XP4 charger

Besides tinkering around with Python and system stuff as evident from the bigger title of this blog, I am also a certified battery charger nut. Just the technology behind battery chargers and the types of them out there totally fascinates me. Recently, I was offered the chance to review one of the new battery chargers from Xtar called the XP4. Why is this battery charger special ? Well to fully appreciate how this charger is special firstly you got to understand that batteries are made out of different compositions, the two main camps currently used are the Nickle and Lithium camps. Your typical rechargeable AA/AAA you find in the market nowadays are usually of the Nickle camp while your phone and laptops usually uses Lithium batteries.  Each camps' batteries have their own special way they like to be charged and in a lot of ways are different.

Because of this difference, making a charger that can automatically sense the type of battery put into it and charge it just the way it likes to be charge proves to be a challenge not many chargers currently in the market can answer currently. Currently the majority of chargers in the market are what you would call "dumb chargers" as in their time based, where they will charge up until a certain point then switch off. Put in a battery that is 80% full vs 10% and it will still "dumbly" charge it for 5 hours then switch off. Not too efficient or smart.

Before this, there are actually chargers being sold that can charge both of them but these class of chargers are what people call "Hobby Chargers" because they were mainly used to charge battery packs used for RC toys. This also meant that if you were just looking for a charger with battery trays built in to charge 'normal' batteries, you are better off looking somewhere else. How these chargers handled dual chemistry is by having the user choose the type of battery that they are going to charge before hand.

The XP4 is a dual chemistry charger new in the market. It can charge NiCD, NiCd and Lithium batteries. I have tried charging mostly NiMh batteries on it as I do not really own any Lithium batteries (well not yet). So, far from what I can see, the charger works flawlessly. It has four independant channels. What this means is that each channel works by itself like a self contained battery charger and can work individually without being effected by the other channels. Some battery chargers out in the market now have paired channels. That means that batteries must be charged in pairs as the underlying circuitry pairs up the channels.

I was happy and excited to review this charger as personally I am happy that Chinese electronics are finally starting to come out on their own with their own brands rather than just acting as the behind-the-scenes manufacturer for other companies. Xtar or Xtarlight is one of the more reputable companies based in Hong Kong.

This charger will also mark Xtar's first batch of foray (the other charger being XP1) into the NiMh/NiCd scene.  More and more you see these new Chinese companies coming out with their own brand of chargers which have no counterpart on the European which are at the same time affordable. While for now buying and using these chargers for now can be like a walk on the wild side as in the huge mixing bowl there are good as well as not so reputable manufacturers, a few good companies like Xtarlight has emerged that produce good and stable hardware. If the chargers produced by them have good functionality coupled with good safety features, I say all the more power to them! I am impartial to who really produces them, as long as it's a good product, though traditionally Chinese / Asian manufacturers have not really been known to put consumer safety high up in their list as they do not have as stringent as the standards enforced on them compared to their Western counterparts.

On to the review....

My initial views on the charger:

 

Construction (5/5):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XTar XP4 Panzer

This charger is code named "Panzer" and in my opinion aptly too as the construction feels solid just like a tank. I kept on getting the model of this charger wrong initially because of their significant lineup. My advice ? Just call the frigging thing Xtar Panzer! Nice ring to it and easy to remember.

The charger even comes with it's own verification code to ensure that the charger is genuine. It works albeit just a little too spartan or basic to be truly impressive or memorable.

The springs feel and work well without much hint of needing any lubrication. I based this finding comparing with other chargers with springs which normally need a touch of lubrication to work normally. The case also feels solid and surprisingly does not feel light or 'cheap'. I would say on this end, I am happy that Xtar did not spare when it came to materials to build the charger, even though the cost of them putting everything into the charger did show on the box material. The charger has got a nice solid feel to it. While I would have liked to have a digital display to show charging progress of batteries, for an initial effort from Xtar, this is sufficient. Here is a picture of the charger with the 4 bays in question. These chargers because of the protrusion on the metal contact will work with flat top batteries too. Initially, I was not used to the way the battery fit into the bays but after a few days I found it to be second nature.  I guess the initial issue I had with it was because this is my first unit that uses a spring loaded.

 

Performance (4/5):


Some confusion I had initially was about the temperature sensor on the charger. On the manual it states that the charger's "operating temperature" for NiMh batteries was about 40 Celcius. I mistaken this for that the device contained some kind of temperature sensor but as pointed out by xtar representative this is not true. One thing I must note here is that the representative from Xtar must be given a point here because of their exemplary service. Every question that I had ranging from when the charger is going to be released right up to if the charger contained any temperature sensors was answered courteously and in a timely manner. Back to the charger, while it did not have a temperature sensor, none of the batteries that I charged on it became anything beyond warm because I suspect that it's heat dissipation is really good. I guess what it really meant by "operating temperature" really means what normal temperature the charger will be operating at when charging NiMh batteries.

I don't really have any of those fancy man toys to measure heat via thermal images  beyond a child thermometer so you have got to take my word without backing proof here. Normally for NiMh battery chargers, currently in the market there are roughly 3 ways to terminate charge on a battery and switch to trickle charge:

  1. dv Change in voltage as in a voltage dip after being fully charged.
  2. dT temperature controlled as in the cases where the battery becomes overly warm. 
  3. Time controlled. This is the so called "dumb charger".

Ideally a NiMh charger should have the ability to do 1 and 2, just in the case if the voltage detection fails, then at least the possibility of the batteries melting in the charger can be avoided. The best case scenario is if a charger can do all three. This charger can do one of them and in most cases do it rather well so I guess it's acceptable, just that the "operating temperature" might be confusing and bring certain people for a loop.

Nearly all of the charging scenario, my findings are all based on the 0.5A charging settings as running on the 0.25A settings, some of the charging could not be terminated and was running indefinitely. After numerous exchanges on the forums namely candlepower forums, I was informed that 0.25A is way too low and most chargers would miss the termination. I take away 0.5 point from the charger here as it allows the user to pick the 0.25A charge setting although it might have problems terminating the charge on that setting, I mean the charger itself should not allow batteries to be charged at that setting if there potentially would be a problem terminating the charge at that setting.

Charging batteries(3/5)

Besides charging batteries of different chemistries namely Lithium and NiMh batteries this charger also come with a few other functions:

  • Discharge / Charge cycle for NiMh
  • Discharge of Lithium via USB to charge mobile devices (only for batteries loaded into Bay 4 of the charger)

** For all of the times I did my evaluation of these functionality I wished that I had a fancy schmancy multimeter to capture all of the data coming from charger. Alas, I don't, I guess next time or if someone sends it to me to be evaluated. 

Here is what I thought of them:

Charging Lithium bats


Since I did not really have any Lithium batteries, in order to be complete I decided to go out there and finally get myself a torchlight. I settled on the PD32 out of recommendation which came with a Lithium battery.

Charging Lithium plus NiMh

 

Both of the batteries terminated fine and I had no issues here, one improvement I can see here is if in future editions of this charger the basic lcd display in the VP1 can be incorporated somehow into this charger it would be great. 

 

USB discharge function 

I tried using the USB discharge function to power up my Samsung S3 and it seems to work as advertised, the only issue I seemed to have run into is that the connector of the USB seems a bit loose (it could very well have been my own cable as well, so I won't fault the charger for this) and it disrupted the charging multiple times. Charging is acceptable and not anything memorable. The only  thing that would have liked or I found lacking is that if only the USB function would work also if connected to a AC source then it would be superb. Assuming that the unit will only be used as a powerbank seems to be a mis-step on the construction of the unit.  Also, if this unit was meant to be used as a powerbank it would be nice if batteries of different chemistries could be used instead of just Lithiums. The other thing is that the way that the unit holds the battery should be more secure if you really want to use the USB discharge function to charge up your HP or other mobile devices. Below is shown the USB section of the charger.

 

Discharge and Charge


The discharge and charge function is another function offered by XP4 which differentiates it from most chargers in the market now. There aren't many at this price range that does that.  The only compliant I have here is that it this cycle takes a long time as it does not allow you to choose the discharge current. The option of the charge current only takes effect during the charging stage.

Conclusion

Likes

- The construction of the charger is great and feels solid
- The charging works (at 0.5A) settings with NiMh and Liion batteries that I tried.

So-so

- The verification code on the site seems a little too basic to be impressive.
- You cannot choose the discharge current in the discharge-charge or the refresh function.
- USB function only works with Lithium batteries and do not work with NiMh batteries.
- Lacking the LCD display that came with VP1.

Dislikes

- There are no temperature sensor which can do dT based termination
- Charging at 0.25A charging is very spotty. Should not have allowed charging at this setting in my opinion
- You cannot use the USB when the AC is connected to the device.

As I see it now, the charger seems to be a good initial effort of Xtar foraying into the NiMh charging sphere. Where does it fit ? Well I have arguably the most advanced NiMh system out there: NC2500 from SkyRC but where I see Xtar's XP4 shining is the convenience of just having one charger that can do all sorts of charging. If I just want to dump my batteries irrespective of type into it and not want anymore information beyond just when it's charging and when it's done XP4 fits the bill perfectly. Look for this charger if you already know something about your batteries and just want something that charges and works without you having to do a lot of settings before it starts charging. While it is not perfect, I am happy with this initial effort and do hope that they continue to improve on this charger. I am looking forward to see an improved version of this in the future.

Also, I don't think that this review is complete without at least a mention of the great PR that Xtar has. The person that communicated with me about this charger was responsive and promptly answered all of my questions. Although this was my first time getting a review set from them I was very impressed with they way they treated me. This is one thing that the company has right and judging from their FB page, they got the community around them happy too. 

djozz
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Thanks for the review lowks Smile , it sounds like a good charger, I agree that a good lcd display would have been nice.

Chloe
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Thanks for the review. ^^

If you use the advanced post editor you can simply copy and paste the review, it will include formatting and in line pictures.

lowks
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Thanks! I feel like a real doofus now Smile

ohaya
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Thanks for the review.

There was some discussion about the charger (and NIMH batteries) warming up when using 0.25 amp setting here also:

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/25098

So now, I only use 0.5 amp or greater when charging NIMH in my XP4…

Also, I should mention that other, previous chargers do multi-chemistry, e.g., Jetbeam i4 pro.

I haven’t measured the dimensions, but having now taken a bunch of 18650s through several cycles, it feels like the spacing between the bays in the XP4 is smaller than (for example) the i4. I have a hard time removing an 18650 from it with the 3 rightmost bays populated (then again, could be due to fat fingers :)).

lowks
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When I went to one of our local distributors here, he warned me several times against getting the i4 pro saying that already more than one of his clients have had their batteries melting in the charger, so coming from no background what so ever, I decided to take his word for it.

In 0.25A I found that it charged indefinitely as it was going back and forth between charging and terminating.

ohaya
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lowks wrote:
When I went to one of our local distributors here, he warned me several times against getting the i4 pro saying that already more than one of his clients have had their batteries melting in the charger, so coming from no background what so ever, I decided to take his word for it.

In 0.25A I found that it charged indefinitely as it was going back and forth between charging and terminating.

The “i4” that I have is the Jetbeam i4 pro in white. I think that there’re several versions, mine is the one with the mis-spelled “Intellicharger” name, and I’ve had it for awhile now, and have put a lot of batteries, mostly Li-ion from laptop pulls, but with some Eneloop and Duraloop, through it, no problems. Up until I got the XP4 a couple of weeks ago, it was the one I used mainly.

lowks
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So what do you use mainly now for your charging … I did end up buying an intellicharger i2 based on HKJ’s recommendation.

ohaya
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lowks wrote:
So what do you use mainly now for your charging … I did end up buying an intellicharger i2 based on HKJ’s recommendation.

Was your question directed at me?

If so, for now, I’m trying to use the XP4, since I have it, both with Li-ions and NIMH.

I also have the Jetbeam i4 pro, and old Trustfire 4-bay, an Accucel, and a bunch of 1 bay chargers and the chargers that came with the Eneloop packs from Costco, and a new WP6, but I’m spending time with the XP4 to see how that works, and what I mentioned were my impressions of the XP4 thus far.

The spacing difference is kind of annoyiing, but I also miss the 3-LED indicators from the i4 :), but really would like a display. I had debated getting the XP4 vs. the Thrunite MCC-4, but opted for the XP4 because of the XP4 current selection capability.

Still waiting for a non-hobby, 4-bay multi-chemistry charger with display of both voltage and capacity (kreisler and/or dinoboy, are you listening) :)!!

lowks
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I am also toying around with the idea of maintaining two main cream of the crop chargers mainly C-9000 maha and Xtar VP1. It would seem currently there are no multi chemistry chargers that are cream of the crop yet and mostly are just at their infancy.

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This blog entry might be more interesting if you had commented on the charger’s ability to charge li-ion cells.

Edit>> Woops, just noticed- you don’t have any. Smile

lowks
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Woody wrote:
This blog entry might be more interesting if you had commented on the charger’s ability to charge li-ion cells.

Edit>> Woops, just noticed- you don’t have any. Smile

For the sake of the review I bought some but then it being my first set of Li-ion cells I did not feel qualified enough to comment. They just charged fine.

ohaya
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kreisler wrote:

i deleted my comments because i am trying myself to write a XP4 review and i don’t know what to write: the charger simply works, when the charging is completed the LED’s turn from red to green and i am good to go! i have no Lithiums either, so i can test only Eneloop but it’s just great.

i have posted my Eneloop tests in another bfl thread, but i am not sharing the review url yet Smile

Did you try charging at 0.25 amps?

ohaya
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kreisler wrote:

ohaya wrote:
Did you try charging at 0.25 amps?

try google search bfl for my test results Wink

Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) – FLW Outdoors
www.flwoutdoors.com/bassfishing/bfl/

??

panthervision23
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I say your review is done well. It sparks my interests in the XP4.

raccoon city
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Excellent review, lowks!   8)

kreisler wrote:

wiv bfl i mean dis board

hh

consume_you_bfl_will

Silly

lowks
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Thanks! I got some other chargers review coming soon.

lowks
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Yeah I know that’s why I predicate it by saying it’s not really as indepth as probably HKJ’s one because I don’t really have the kind of setup he has so I mostly just report on what was the feeling like using the device plus what functionality could make the user experience better. Thanks for taking the time to read anyway.

lionheart_2281
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lowks wrote:
Yeah I know that’s why I predicate it by saying it’s not really as indepth as probably HKJ’s one because I don’t really have the kind of setup he has so I mostly just report on what was the feeling like using the device plus what functionality could make the user experience better. Thanks for taking the time to read anyway.

While HKJ covers the more technical side of things it’s all great to have someone explain their observations in laymans terms, you’ve done that really well and look forward to reading your future reviews.
Don’t be discouraged that your reviews aren’t as in depth as HKJ’s, sometimes people prefer less technical reviews like your own, personally I’m happy to read both.

HKJ
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lionheart_2281 wrote:
While HKJ covers the more technical side of things it's all great to have someone explain their observations in laymans terms, you've done that really well and look forward to reading your future reviews. Don't be discouraged that your reviews aren't as in depth as HKJ's, sometimes people prefer less technical reviews like your own, personally I'm happy to read both.

It is definitely good to get different types of reviews, but the risk with very simple reviews is that they miss important details. Just charging two batteries on the charger is to simple a test.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ wrote:

lionheart_2281 wrote:
While HKJ covers the more technical side of things it’s all great to have someone explain their observations in laymans terms, you’ve done that really well and look forward to reading your future reviews. Don’t be discouraged that your reviews aren’t as in depth as HKJ’s, sometimes people prefer less technical reviews like your own, personally I’m happy to read both.

It is definitely good to get different types of reviews, but the risk with very simple reviews is that they miss important details. Just charging two batteries on the charger is to simple a test.

Completely 100% agree

lowks
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Thanks for the comments HKJ. Indeed my setup is minimal compared to yours :). I am learning… just over the moon I even got an evaluation set to review from the nice folks at Xtarlight. One thing for sure … my reviews will improve with time as my setup is getting beefier all the time.

HKJ
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lowks wrote:
Thanks for the comments HKJ. Indeed my setup is minimal compared to yours :). I am learning... just over the moon I even got an evaluation set to review from the nice folks at Xtarlight. One thing for sure ... my reviews will improve with time as my setup is getting beefier all the time.

It is not necessary to have a lot of equipment to do a good review.

Some simple details to check:

  • How long time does the charger use to charger, does it match with the current rating (i.e. a 2000mAh NiMH with 1A charge is supposed to take around 2 hours).
  • Is the charge time the same for 1 and for 4 batteries?
  • Does the charger get warm/hot when working with a full set of batteries at highest charge current.
  • This charger can cycle batteries, how long time does it take to cycle a cell and how many can it do at a time (Can I do a four pack in less than 24 hours)?
  • Does the usb output work, will it charge my phone and does the phone charge at full speed or slow?

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

lowks
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Ah, HKJ those I do know… I will update my review. Thanks for the pointers Smile

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