High capacity batteries review

Finding the best way to keep your digital gadgets going.
 
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  • Updated:14 Jun 2008
 

01 .Introduction

Batteries

Test results for 19 high-capacity batteries (rechargeable and non-rechargeable)

We've scored them for

  • Performance in a standard test simulating a digital camera.
  • Their value for money.

You may also be interested in our article on rechargable AA batteries.

Please note: this information was current as of June 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market. For more recent information, see our Digital photo frame review 2010.


The number of portable, high-tech gadgets that run on batteries has increased dramatically over the past few years. In response to all these power-hungry devices, battery manufacturers have come up with a number of high-capacity options to keep your gadgets going. 

The most popular are:

  • Rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries: Clearly the cheapest if you use a lot of batteries. Manufacturers claim that some can be recharged up to 1000 times, but while this may be true, we found in the past that for some models, how long the charge lasts decreases with use. To make the most of rechargeable batteries you need to make sure you use a charger designed for the type and capacity of battery you’re using.
  • Lithium batteries: These last the longest in high- drain devices like digital cameras and DVD players. If you want to use rechargeables but keep lithiums for emergencies, they should last OK, manufacturers say they have a shelf-life of around 10 years.
  • Other options: Other kinds of battery are marketed as being designed for devices such as digital cameras. The most common of these is high-capacity or premium alkalines. They’re cheaper to buy than lithiums but don’t last as long.

Findings

  • Rechargeable batteries are the most economical option if you frequently use appliances that consume a lot of power, such as a digital camera.
  • Lithium batteries lasted the longest in our test and are a good option if you’ll be in a situation where you can’t recharge.

Brands tested

  • DICK SMITH ELECTRONICS
  • DURACELL
  • ENERGIZER
  • EVEREADY
  • FUJIFILM
  • # GP
  • INCA
  • KODAK
  • # MEMOREX
  • PANASONIC
  • SONY
  • # VARTA

# Discontinued.

 
 

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What to buy

Rechargeable (price for four)

  • DURACELL Rechargeable 2650mAh - $20
  • ENERGIZER Rechargeable 2500 mAh - $23
  • KODAK Rechargeable Digital Camera 2500mAh - $20
  • FUJIFILM Rechargeable 2500 mAh - $20
  • DSE NiMH 2200mAh - $24

Non-rechargeable (price for two)

  • ENERGIZER e2 Lithium - $10

Results table

  Performance Specifications Costs
Brand / model
(in rank order)
Overall score1
(%)
Performance score2
(%)
Value score3 (%) Number of shots4 Sets of 2 per 10,000 shots5 Type Manufacturer/
distributor
Origin Price6
($, set of two / four)
Cost7 for 10,000 shots ($)
ENERGIZER e2 Lithium 87 92 81 620 16 Lithium Energizer USA 10 160
ENERGIZER Rechargeable 2500 mAh 85 77 92 480 2 NiMH (A) Energizer Japan 23 70
DURACELL Rechargeable 2650 mAh 84 76 92 470 2 NiMH (A) Gillette Japan 20 70
KODAK Rechargeable Digital Camera 2500 mAh 84 76 92 470 2 NiMH (A) Network Communications Japan 20 70
DSE NiMH 2200 mAh 83 73 92 450 2 NiMH (A) DSE China 24 70
FUJIFILM Rechargeable 2500 mAh 83 74 92 460 2 NiMH (A) Fujifilm Japan 20 70
# VARTA 15 minute Charge&Go 2000 mAh 73 54 92 270 2 NiMH (A) Remington China 20 70
INCA AA Lithium 72 80 63 510 20 Lithium Adeal China 15 300
# GP Digi 1 64 40 87 140 71 Nickel zinc Powercell China 1.5 110
PANASONIC Oxyride 61 46 76 200 50 Oxy alkaline Panasonic Japan 4 200
DURACELL Pix Power 59 47 71 210 48 Nickel oxy hydride Gillette Japan 5 240
KODAK Digital Camera 58 45 71 190 53 Oxy alkaline Network Communications Japan 4.5 240
# MEMOREX Energy 49 32 65 70 143 Alkaline International Media Corporation China 2 280
EVEREADY Gold 48 35 60 100 100 Alkaline Energizer China 3.2 320
ENERGIZER e2 Advanced 46 37 53 120 83 Alkaline Energizer Singapore 4.6 380
DURACELL Ultra 45 37 53 110 91 Alkaline Gillette China 4.2 380
SONY Stamina Platinum 43 34 51 90 111 Alkaline Sony Indonesia 3.5 390
DSE Exxtra Alkaline 39 31 47 60 167 Alkaline DSE China 2.5 420
PANASONIC Alkaline 29 31 27 60 167 Alkaline Panasonic Thailand 3.5 580
 

Table notes

# Discontinued.
(A) Rechargeable.

1 Overall score
This is made up of:

  • Performance score: 50%
  • Value score: 50%

2 Performance score
We tested 10 samples of each battery using an international standard test that simulates the power used when taking a photo with a digital camera. We counted the number of photos each set of two sample batteries could take, and converted it to a score out of 100. While this is a good comparative test, in reality you’re unlikely to get that many photos from each battery set because other things, such as zooming and leaving the display on, also use up the battery power but aren’t taken into account in this test.
3 Value score
This is the cost for 10,000 shots (see Table note 7) converted to a score our of 100.
4 Number of shots per set of two
This is the average number of shots we counted that were taken in the standard test.
5 Sets of two per 10,000 shots
The number of sets of two batteries required to take 10,000 shots with a digital camera, based on our results.
6 Price (set of two/four)
This is the price for two non-rechargeables or four rechargeables, rounded to the nearest five cents. Some brands of non-rechargeable batteries only come in a packet of four, so the price is only indicative. We’ve listed the price for four rechargeable batteries so you can use one set while recharging the other.
7 Cost for 10,000 shots
For the non-rechargeables this is the number of sets of two batteries required to take 10,000 shots multiplied by the price for two batteries, as provided by the manufacturer.
For the rechargeables we based the cost on two sets of two batteries (so you can use one while the other is recharging) and a $50 charger. In fact you’re likely to get a lot more than 10,000 shots from rechargeable batteries as you can charge them several hundred times, so this figure is something of a bad-case scenario. Prices are rounded to the nearest $10.

03.Do you need them?

 

How much do you use your high-tech devices?

  • If you use your appliances a lot, rechargeable batteries are your best bet. Although they may be more expensive to purchase initially, they’re cheaper in the long run, perform very well and are better for the environment than non-rechargeables because you’re not constantly throwing them away. Manufacturers are also continually bringing out new models with higher capacity (which means longer time in use).
  • Of course, one problem with these batteries is remembering to charge them. VARTA has come up with a 15-minute Charge&Go battery that allows a quick charge. However, it has a slightly lower capacity than the other rechargeables in the test and didn’t last as long per charge as the top performers. The VARTA took an average of 270 photos before running out of power, while the best rechargeables took 470 or 480.
  • A normal charger for high-capacity NiMH batteries takes around 12–15 hours, but some also have a one-hour ‘fast charge’ option. We haven’t tested whether fast charging has any effect on a battery’s durability.
  • If you’re likely to forget to recharge or will be trekking through the rainforest on your next holiday and unable to recharge your batteries after a day of heavy snapping on your digital camera, you’re better opting for a lithium battery. The ENERGIZER e2 Lithium was by far the top performer in our test, taking an average of 620 photos before running out of power.
  • Lithium batteries work out more expensive than rechargeables when used over time, but they’re more economical than most of the alkaline batteries, which have to be replaced more often. For example, in our test scenario the lowest-scoring alkaline batteries — the DSE Exxtra and PANASONIC — would require 167 sets of two batteries to take 10,000 photos. In comparison the ENERGIZER e2 Lithium would need only 16 sets of two batteries to complete the same task. So, for example, the PANASONIC alkaline batteries would cost you $580 for 10,000 digital photos, compared to $160 for the ENERGIZER e2 Lithium.
  • Lithium batteries are also a good bet if you don’t use your battery-operated devices very often and don’t want to bother recharging batteries.
  • Another option is to keep your eyes open for the GP Digi 1 nickel zinc battery. It’s the cheapest non-rechargeable battery we tested (both for a set of two and per 10,000 photos taken) but unfortunately it’s not widely available.

High-capacity or regular?

All devices that need AA batteries can use any of the batteries we tested. But:

  • Rechargeable batteries lose their charge over time even if they’re not used. So it’s not a good idea to have them in devices you don’t use often, like an emergency torch.
  • Batteries designed for high-drain appliances (such as lithium and other high-capacity batteries) don’t provide any advantage that would justify their higher price in devices that don’t use much power, such as a remote control. It’s probably more economical to use regular alkaline or zinc carbon batteries in these low-drain devices.