The Powerchimp 4A is an AA and AAA battery charger rolled into one. You can charge the device off several power sources and you can charge devices with it. The excuse "my batteries ran out of power" when your significant other calls you on your iPhone to ask when you'll be home, won't do — ever again.
Powertraveller has been at the forefront of eco-friendly power devices for many years and the company keeps inventing new products that are both innovative and nice to look at. The Powerchimp 4A shows what out-of-the-box thinking and design really is: re-invent existing technology and improve it, making it more planet-friendly in the process.
The Powerchimp 4A is a rubberised box the size of a small mobile phone. It has a micro USB port at one side, and a small compartment at the other. The unit slides open. When it's open, you can't access the micro USB port so you can't accidentally power the unit when that wouldn't be very wise.
In the compartment you'll find a battery converter — basically a plastic bar with four brass contact ports. The converter slides inside the unit at the battery-positive side and when it's inserted, you can fill the unit with four AAA batteries.
In the box, the Powerchimp A4 battery charger comes with four Powertraveller AA batteries, a micro USB to USB charging cable, and a micro USB to female USB cable for using the unit as a charging device. Also included are two plastic AA-to-AAA adapter tubes.
On top of the Powerchimp A4 there are five LEDs. Four LEDs indicate batteries charging, the other one is to indicate the unit is charging a device. These are the features you'll probably find in other high-quality chargers as well. However, the Powerchimp A4 goes further. Except for the ability to use the Powerchimp A4 as a charger itself, it has various features that make it unique.
First of all, you can charge one, two, or three batteries. The unit will lighten up the corresponding LEDs and charge. No need for even numbers or all four slots to be filled. Secondly, the ability to charge AA and AAA batteries simultaneously is quite unique for such a small charger.
But the nicest feature of the Powerchimp A4 is that you can charge it with various devices. I tested it with a wall-to-USB power adapter. This guarantees the quickest charge at approx. six hours. Another way of charging the battery charger is through your computer's USB port. This can make charging take a little longer.
A third way is by hooking up the Powerchimp A4 to either the Powermonkey Extreme solar panel or the Solargorilla panel. Charging time will go up to anywhere between 12 and 24 hours, depending on available sunlight. Finally, you can use the Powermonkey Extreme (reviewed here), Powergorilla, or Minigorilla. Charging time will be around 10 hours.
In short, the Powerchimp A4 is an eco-friendly charging device that can also do double duty as a charger itself. You can charge AA and AAA batteries simultaneously, in whatever configuration you like — one AA, three AAAs, two by two, etc. Charging time isn't as fast as some chargers, but that's mainly because the Powerchimp A4 doesn't force-charge, which is better for your batteries.
Speaking of which, the Powertraveller AA batteries that are included are rated at 1800mAh. I tested these with my Magic Trackpad and they performed exactly on par with Apple's 1900mAh rechargeable AA batteries. In addition, and much like Apple's, the Powertravellers are rated to retain 75% of their charge after six months.