Lenmar Mach Speed Charger MSC815

The MSC is a 15-minute NiMH charger that can charge AA and AAA cells individually. It can charge a pair of Lenmar's high-current Pro-H AA cells in as little as 8 minutes. It includes two, but you don't have to use them if you don't want to.

The beauty of such a fast charger (as opposed to units that take 1-14 hours) is that it really minimizes the downside of ordinary NiMHs, which is their high self-discharge. It used to be that if you needed charged cells for a short trip or something, you would have to remember it the night before, which is pretty difficult for most people. Pop a few cells in this thing, however, and you'll have juiced-up cells in 10-15 minutes. It supposedly won't be a 100% charge (more like 90-95%); if you let the cells sit in the charger after the rapid charge is done, it'll switch to a trickle charge to finish up the cells. However, when I ZTS cells that have just finished a quick charge, they register at the 100% mark, so I figure they're pretty full.

As you can see in the photo below, it comes with both AC and DC cables. The AC one has a long cable with a converter brick in the middle. Also note how each adapter is actually LABELED by the manufacturer: the AC brick clearly says "LENMAR" and the DC plug says "MSC8-DC," which means the Mach Speed Charger 8-minute DC adapter. If you have a mountain of adapters jumbled together and you haven't yet had the idea to label each of them ("no problem, I'll just remember which goes where" - that doesn't fool anyone), that clear lettering is a beautiful thing to see.

As mentioned above, this charger has four individual AA/AAA NiMH charging channels. There's an LED below each channel to indicate that the channel is in quick charge mode. It'll turn off when the charger detects a reasonably full cell, at which point it'll trickle-charge that cell. It is important to be aware that charging begins a few seconds after you plug the unit in; this is normal. Load the cells, plug a cable to a power source, then connect the cable to the port on top of the unit. A few seconds later, the LEDs will light up and the fan will spin. If you can, it's probably a good idea (as always) to direct an additional fan at the unit so that the cells are cooler and happier.

You can faintly see the unit's fan blades behind the grey plastic grill. It's not exactly whisper-quiet, but it's about 10dB at 1', which is around 3dB at 1m.

All in all, this is a great charger that'll help you realize the full potential of all those NiMHs you have sitting around. At $30 for the charger, AC and DC cords, and a pair of high-current Pro-H AA cells, it's a bargain. Please note, however, that I have tried neither Energizer nor Duracell's 15-minute chargers. I don't know what they come with or how they perform, but chances are they'll be just as good, so pick one and enjoy.