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USB cell are rechargeable AA batteries that can be charged from any USB port – I’ve had them for a day or so and they work as expected, exactly like a rechargeable AA, I just don’t need the charger, only my computer – Link.

I use a wireless mouse that needs an AA and also always have a USB charger for my phone, music player, etc. So, I’m pretty happy with the USB cell in the first round of testing. I’ll use them a lot over the next week and report back more.

Here are the specs:

  • Rechargeable AA NiMH Battery 1.2v 1300mah
  • Built in Intelligent Charger
  • Charge by powered USB
  • NiMH – Nickel Metal Hyrdride
  • 90%+ Charged after 5 Hours by powered USB
  • Also rechargeable by approved NiMH charger at 250ma for 7 Hours

$20 USD

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As I was posting this one of our makers from the Flickr pool asked if you could use the USB cells to power a USB charger like the one we sell in the MAKE store – sure can. It’s a little recursive, USB charger batteries for a USB charger… but it works as expected.

If you have any questions about these, please post up in the comments.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. mechanisma22 says:

    I saw this a while ago and I vote this the most ingenious product of 2006. It’s interesting that USB is becoming more common as a low voltage power supply than for data.

  2. JoshPDX says:

    I wonder if one could just skip mintyboost entirely and power with the usb itself. Will the battery put power out the usb connection as well as in?

  3. philliptorrone says:

    it’s a little less than 1.5v so it won’t work and usb doesnt really travel back like…

  4. kryten007 says:

    I was SURE these were vaporware when i first saw them a few months ago–so glad they’re not!

    They’re the perfect compliment to those Sandisk Ultra II+ SD cards.

  5. Oracle1729 says:

    It’s a cute idea, but that’s a huge it on capacity at only 1300mAh. It could be good in some applications.

  6. mpayson says:

    Cute, but they are $10 each, they have less then half the capacity of modern AA NiMH cells, and, depending on the layout of your USB ports, you will only be able to charge one cell at a time. There’s a charger on Amazon isn’t much bigger then two AA cells, charges two AA or AAA at a time, and only costs $12. I haven’t used it, but assuming it’s not complete garbage, I’d happily trade the slightly larger charger for double the runtime between charges. Factor in the money saved and it seems like a no-brainer.

  7. screaminscott says:

    As with most things, people will pay extra and get less in exchange for convenience. I would think that the price and the reduced capacity are offset by someone who values the ease of use and convenience.

    True, standard Nimh cells hold more charge, but you have to carry around the charger. Less runtime per charge might be worth it since you can recharge on your readily available PC at any time.

    As for USB ports, I have 2 on my laptop, 2 on my docking station, and 2 on my desktop LCD. Sure others might have fewer ports but they are readily available, so just charge one at a time as you spend all that time surfing the Makezine webpage :)

  8. mpayson says:

    Sure you have two USB ports, but how are they arranged? Every computer I’ve owned had them arranged like || rather then like –. If they are configured in the first format, then you will only be able to charge one battery at a time. Of course, you could always carry a hub, but then you might as well just carry the charger. And of course remember that if your laptop only has two USB ports, even if they are arranged appropriately, don’t expect to use them for a mouse or anything else while you are charging your batteries, they’re all used up. As for having two ports on your docking station and on your desktop monitor, I think you have completely missed the point– if you are at your desktop when you want to recharge your batteries, why not just use a plug-in charger?

    You’re correct, convenience is a factor when you make a purchase. The question is whether this is actually convenient, or just appears to be convenient. When for slightly more then half the price of a pair of these batteries, I can buy a charger that is also powered from USB; charges both AA and AAA cells, including high capacity cells; weighs about the same as just the two batteries; and only takes a single USB port regardless of whether you are charging one battery or two, I tend to think that the charger on Amazon is a bit more convenient.

  9. screaminscott says:

    I don’t want to get in a running argument here, but let me clarify a few things.

    The convenience comes from being able to charge the battery when you don’t have the charger around. It’s just another option. If your charger is at home (like mine is right now) and you need to recharge these AA’s at work, then you can just plug them in. If your charger is in the office and you are at ANOTHER office, you can just plug them in. If you are at your friend’s house, you can plug them in HIS computer. If your charger is in your checked baggage, but your laptop is in your carryon, plug them in there! USB ports are so ubiquitous; it just gives you more options to charge the batteries.

    It just depends on what you value. Myself, I HATE having to keep track of another USB cable and device. I’ve already got my MP3 player cable, cell phone cable, Bluetooth headset cable, and general USB extension cable. I would put up with a blocked USB port and charging only one battery at a time, just so I have an option to recharge someplace where my charger ain’t.

    Granted, this will work better for some laptops than others. I realized I actually have 3 USB ports on mine; 1 on the side, and 2 in the back. And yes, if I used any USB devices, the batteries would block the ports. But like I said, I would just like having the option.

  10. daniel says:

    this is cool.