Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sony BC-TRW Charger Review

This was something that I initially planned on getting because I didn't want to have to plug in a USB cord every time my Sony A7 was low on battery. Then I realized that the USB cable was pretty convenient because it gave me a one step solution that allowed me to charge the camera and off-load items from the memory card. This solution saved me about CAD$ 50 too.

I did that for about two months before getting tired of dealing with the USB port on the camera side. The port on mine was very tight and took more force than I was comfortable with to remove on a CAD$ 1500+ camera -- also, I was concerned about accidentally breaking the door while removing the cable. And finally, the port or cable gave me a bit of trouble while inserting once or twice with the cable not going in despite being oriented correctly. Oh, a charger would help when I finally get a second battery too.
Sony BCTRW Charger Packaging
So, it was time to pick that battery charger up. The choice was between the BCTRW or the BCQM1 for an extra CAD$ 10. What I took away from the product descriptions was that the BCTRW would only charge my A7's battery while the BCQM1 would do the A7's and a bunch of others. I got turned off by the large assortment of contacts on the face of the BCQM1's charger. It would have been a good option if I ever got another Sony camera, but looks matter? And I thought that more stuff meant more stuff to potentially go wrong.

Sony BCTRW Charger Opened
A Sony BC-TRW battery charger for the Sony Alpha 7's NP-FW50 battery pack.

Sony BC-TRW W Series Battery Charger

Paid: CAD$ ~50

Sony BC-TRW Battery Charger in Infrared

The package appeared to be a simple plastic front shell with a rear, cardboard slide-out backing initially. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the cardboard was locked in using a bunch of spots where the plastic was melted or fused together. Trying to rip apart the fused plastic didn't work, so I started to rip the plastic around those spots, and then I decided to rip the paper around them. My plan was to keep the box for a while in case a warranty claim was necessary, but I ended up just throwing the thing out since it was torn all over -- and I thought it was going to be easy. It wasn't that hard, it just wasn't very straightforward. Still way easier than those clamshell packages.

Inside the packaging were some pamphlets such as a warranty card and manual. And of course, there was the charger. No other accessories were provided.
Sony BCTRW: Charge Light On
General Usage
How did the charger work out? My camera still had a pretty full battery when the charger arrived. It took a few days before I ran the battery down doing stuff. I've so far used it once, which is a very small number of times. However, it'd take another few months before I used it a few more times due to how infrequently I've been using the camera lately. Also, it's a relatively basic battery charger and unless it breaks, I don't see major issues popping up -- I'll update if things do and I remember.

The first time I used the charger, I took the battery out of my Sony A7, put the charger on the power bar, and pushed the battery into the charger. I then unplugged the entire thing and reinserted the battery to make sure everything was secure because I had no experience with it prior. Neither action took much force, which was great.

Before removing the battery from the camera, the battery level was supposedly at 9%-ish according to the indicator. Only one LED shined orange in the bottom right under the "Charge" label when first charging. As it charged, one, two, and then three green LEDs lit up on the bottom left under the charger's battery level indicator label. The orange LED also turned off eventually -- didn't see if it happened when the third green LED turned on or not. Total charge time was about 2.5 hours to go from 9%-ish to 100%. This was with a relatively new NP-FW50 battery that came with a Sony Alpha 7 bought in late-2014, charged less than 10 times prior. Not sure when the battery was manufactured or how long it sat around in a warehouse.
Sony BCTRW: Charge Light Off
Not bad. There were no issues with the retractable plug and I liked the small profile of the charger. An easy to see, well lit battery indicator was also very nice to have. Charging with the USB cable usually meant contorting my body to see the small LED near the port and find out if charging was done or not.

Unfortunately, I never properly recorded the time it took to charge the battery using my computer and the USB cable.  How much faster was it? I'll try to check in the future and report back. The main appeal was getting rid of the USB cable though. This did the job nicely. I may also pick up a spare battery in the future, and this charger will definitely come in handy then.

The BC-TRW charger worked fine the one time I used it. I didn't have to plug a USB cable into the camera, and it opened the door for easier charging in case I bought a spare NP-FW50 battery. Timing how long it took to charge using the USB cable was never done, so I wasn't able to confirm if it was faster. However, the other features just mentioned, the charger's LED indicators, and ease of use were worth the CAD$ 50 for me. Having this charger included in the first place with the almost CAD$ 2000 camera would have been nice though -- my two more recent, sub-CAD$ 500 Canon cameras did just that.

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