There may not be anything magical or revolutionary about AA batteries, but we need them to run a variety of electronic gizmos, including wireless mice and keyboards, as well as dozens of analog devices such as flashlights, wall clocks, and portable cassette recorders. Now Apple is entering the rechargeable battery business, and it's bringing its penchant for innovation to an industry that often seems to advance technologically at a glacial pace.
The new Apple Battery Charger holds up to six AA NiMH batteries, which are included with the US$29 device. Apple being Apple, of course, the charger has a few clever enhancements not found in most competing products.
Its most compelling feature is its lower vampire draw--the energy that chargers use even after batteries are fully charged--versus other products on the market. Once a battery charge cycle is complete, the Apple Battery Charger automatically slashes its power consumption to 30 milliwatts, which is 10 times better than the industry average, the company claims. Apple's rechargeable batteries have up to a 10-year lifespan.
Sure, a battery charger seems pretty ho hum when stacked against Apple innovations like the iPad, iPhone, and new Magic TrackPad. And it lacks the gee-whiz cleverness of Brother's recent announcement of a battery that can be recharged by shaking. (Then again, Brother has no immediate plans to bring its shaky battery to market, a good indication that the technology isn't quite ready.)
Apple's new $29 charger is priced competitively with similar devices on the market, albeit with a slight premium. The Sony Power Battery Charger, for instance, costs $20 at Amazon, but it comes with four Ni-MH rechargeable AA batteries versus Apple's six.
Considering how often the AAs in my power-hungry wireless mouse need replacing, a low-draw charger with batteries that last up to a decade sounds very appealing.