Gadgets 499

Published on August 8th, 2009 | by Greg


La Crosse Technology Keeps Batteries Charged and Weather Forecasted

Sometimes, we’ll mix it up to keep things interesting. This time, La Crosse has done it for us! They make a pretty wide range of products, including projection alarms and clocks, and a few weather-related items. We’ve been using two of their products for a bit, and one of them was well-regarded by testers, while the other was roundly panned.

The good first: the La Crosse BC-9009 Alpha Power Battery Charger is just about the best battery charger we’ve used. It’s an update to the popular BC-900, and works with all NiCd and NiMH (nickel cadmium and nickel metal hyrdride) rechargeable batteries. We tried it not only using the included 4 AAs and AAAs, but also some others we had, including the Sanyo Eneloops that we reviewed earlier this year. We also tested it against the Sanyo chargers (both the USB version and the default wall plug-in model), and the BC-9009 worked quite a bit better. Not only was it more informative, it allows you more control, including the ability to discharge batteries or even do a refresh on them, helping renew dying batteries. Of course, this will take some time, up to days (really). In fact, the charger isn’t speedy, but it seems you trade speed for quality, as batteries charged with it reported greater strength and lasted longer.

As with some other chargers, it can handle both AAs and AAAs at the same time, though only four at a time total. They can also be charged individually (some units require pairs). The box comes with a nice carrying case, and even 4 each of C and D adapters. Overheat detection and the automatic switch to trickle charge when charging is completed help ensure safety. And though the list price is a bit much at $80 and the official site shows their arrival date as TBA, Amazon appears to have them for about half of that cost and available now. The reviews on that site though continue to refer to the predecessor model, though little has apparently changed. In short, it’s hard to recommend the unit highly enough- it’s great for photographers, console gamers, those with toys or remotes or R/C vehicles- pretty much anyone who goes through batteries. Rechargeable battieries have gotten pretty good, and help the environment. This charger makes them slightly better.

The WD-3103 UT La Crosse 4 Day Internet Powered Wireless Forecaster has a few things in common with the unit above. For starters, the list price is $85, but Amazon has it listed at a surprising $31 or so. Unlike the charger though, the weather forecaster is a bit broken, and we ended up liking our previously reviewed Bushnell quite a bit better. This one works in over 60,000 locations, a vast improvement over the strictly limited Bushnell. The text message and email alerts are a great idea, if not implemented very well here. The wireless sensor helps give you an accurate temperature reading at your location. The battery life is quite long, up to two years they claim.

That’s the theoretically good. The bad is, unfortunately, much of the rest. The unit isn’t particularly stable, which is bad since you’ll need to touch it. You can’t wall mount it. The outdoor temperature that you’ll likely want to reference most commonly isn’t displayed constantly and readily, but scrolls instead. Forecasts and even current temperature information are often inaccurate. The build quality on everything feels a little cheap. Configuration isn’t too bad, but some initial setup is required and may prove a bit frustrating for those who just want their weather forecasts. It’s also too bad that they don’t include the rechargeable batteries instead of normal ones in their other products to help encourage their use (and sales of their superior batteries and chargers). We suggest skipping this one, and checking online or on TV for forecasts and weather- cheaper, simpler, and more accurate.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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