Hähnel proCUBE2
$80 | Hähnel

Intro

The Hanhel ProCube 2 is a twin-battery charger that offers user-swappable plates to accommodate batteries from different camera systems. Several models are available for popular options – Canon, Nikon, Panasonic / Olympus and Sony. The only difference between them is the color of the unit and the set of plates it comes with. It is possible to swap plates between models and purchase additional ones for around $12 each, if you change camera systems.

I tested the ProCube 2 with batteries for the Sony A7 III (which does not ship with a charger). At $80, it is cheaper than Sony's own BCQZ-1 charger (which retails for $98). Additionally you’re getting the ability to charge two batteries at the same time along with some other handy features not found in the BCQZ-1.

Key features

  • Ability to charge two batteries simultaneously
  • Can accommodate a wide range of batteries via interchangeable plates
  • Includes AA battery charging option
  • 12V Car lead in the box
  • Can act as a 2.4A USB power source

Hähnel claims that the ProCube 2 can charge two Sony NP-FZ100 batteries from empty to full in three hours and a single battery in two hours, something that we’ll be testing later.

The ProCube 2 is by no means the cheapest twin-charger on the market, but it does offer a unique combination of features, from an established brand. Let's see how it performs.

What's in the box?

Most of the popular Sony batteries can be charged with the included plates.

The Sony version that we tested includes the plates to charge Sony NP-FZ100, NP-FW50 and NP-BX1 batteries – you can only charge one type of battery at a time. Also included in the box is a plate that accepts four AA batteries which attaches magnetically to the top of the charger, with no requirement to take out the existing plate. You will have to install all four AAs though, due to the way the plate connects – and you can’t charge camera batteries and AAs at the same time.

The box also includes a 12v car adapter for charging on-the-go and various plug adapters for different countries.

Design

A simple pin and pad connection system makes plate swapping easy

As its name implies, the ProCube 2 is a small cube. It’s a solid unit finished in orange anodized aluminum. The internal battery contacts themselves are via spring loaded pins and connecting pads, so there is no need for fiddly cables . The plate ejection procedure is a little awkward as you need to use a supplied tool or other small-tipped device to release the locking mechanism. Some care is also required when changing a plate as there is only one correct orientation.

The front-mounted LCD shows you the current charge status, via a simple 5-segment capacity gauge of each battery. It also shows percentage readout for each and how much energy it has added since the start of the charge in milliamp hours – though it can’t show the actual capacity of the batteries unless you are charging from 0%.

Charging current is stated as up to 1700 mA for a single battery and 850 mA each when charging two.

The plate swap system could be simplified with a small button

When two batteries are installed The ProCube 2 charges both at the same time and it will adjust charging current individually depending on the state of charge of each battery.

The supplied eject tool is easily lost; it would have been a good idea not to have required one at all, a small button on the back would have been ideal

One thing struck me before I started testing, the supplied ejection tool is easily lost; it would have been a good idea to have a way of storing it in the base of the charger. It would have been an even better idea not to have required one at all - a small button on the back would have been ideal.

The LCD panel displays battery charge levels in %

Performance

I tested the charge time of a single battery from completely exhausted to fully charged and did it again with two exhausted batteries. The batteries I used were newish original Sony NP-FZ100s and the figures were averaged over three cycles.

Note: Sometimes, 100% on the charger doesn't mean 100% in the camera. If the battery is removed immediately that the ProCube 2 indicates 100% charge, I noticed my camera would indicate anywhere from 95-100%. After leaving the battery charging for another five to six minutes, I've found that my camera will reliably report 100% charge.

Here are the results...

Time to 100% as indicated on charger

Time to fully-charge as indicated by the camera Time to fully charge with in-box USB charger
Single Battery 1 hr 49 mins 1 hr 54 mins 4 hrs 3 mins
Dual Batteries 2 hrs 57 mins 3 hrs 3 mins

Hähnel claims that a quick 15 minute charge will provide enough power for 150 shots. This actually seems like a conservative figure from my testing, although it is very dependent on how the camera was being used. I managed to consistently get around 250-260 shots when using the LCD screen and manual focus (1 shot every 10 seconds). By comparison, a 15 minute charge via Sony's USB charger provided enough juice for 126 -130 shots, given the same conditions.

Even your AA batteries can be accommodated

I also tested the ProCube 2 in a car with the supplied 12v lead. As the charger is designed to use 12 volts from the wall there was no change to charge times or functionality in the vehicle. This is provided the socket can provide 1.5 amps, which is usually well below the fused output on most vehicles.

It doesn't take any longer to charge batteries in a vehicle with the ProCube 2 than it does connected to a wall socket.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that when charging batteries this unit is both much more convenient and quicker than charging up the battery in my Sony a7 III in-camera via USB.

If you’re planning a trip it’s small enough not to take up too much space in your camera bag and means that you don’t have to take a separate AA or USB chargers as well. It's even possible to charge three batteries overnight if you connect your camera to the USB output. It will charge the batteries in the charger first, and then switch on USB power to charge the third.

The ProCube 2 also gives flexibility if you decide to change cameras and hence battery systems or if you have more than one battery type in your gear collection.

If you're interested in the ProCube 2, are other options out there that are also worth considering. The Watson Duo gives the same sort of functionality at the same price although it's a bit larger, and the Nitecore USN4 offers dual charging at a lower cost – although it lacks some of the features of the Hähnel.

Overall, the ProCube 2 provides a quick way of charging either single or dual batteries.

What we like

  • Works with multiple battery types
  • Quick charging
  • Sequential charge and USB power option
  • Ability to charge in a vehicle

What we don’t like

  • LCD panel percentage display sometimes disagrees with camera's estimate
  • Tool or pen tip required for plate swap
  • No sequential AA charging feature