As a long time innovative leader in the radio world, Spektrum and Horizon Hobbies is now setting out to become a force in the LiPo battery and charger world. New from Spektrum is a full line of SMART Technology batteries, chargers, and accessories. While we have been using several of their new SMART units, this week we are doing a write-up on the S1200 DC SMART Charger. The S1200 uses Spektrum’s new SMART Technology to make charging easier, as well as safer, than ever before. How easy is it to use? Does it work well while out bashing? How well do battery packs charged on the S1200 perform when used for real world driving? Read on to find out those answers and more.
Review By: Iron Mikeeeeee
AC/DC Input – DC only
Integrated Balancing – Yes
Output Connector – IC3
Display – Color LCD with back-lighting
Input – 7-32 volts DC
Max Cell Count – 6S LiPo/LiHV/LiFe/Li-Ion, 15 cells NiMH/NiCd, 12S Pb
Max Charge Rate – 8 amps
Cooling Fan – Yes
Length – 3.1″
Width – 3.1″
Height – 1.3″
What’s In the Box: Inside the box you’ll find the charger, instruction manual, plus the DC input side wiring.
Build Quality: Whoa, that S1200 looks sharp in person. Our test crew could find no fault with the way it was assembled or packaged.
Set-up Notes: We used the S1200 in a wide variety of different conditions. Typically would we use it out in the field while using a 12 volt DC car battery for power, but we also used it off AC power via a Spektrum SMART 30 amp power supply. When we used the charger outside, we added a pair of alligator style clamps to the input wires to make them easy to clip onto a 12 volt lead acid battery terminal. Also of note, we only used the charger with a variety of Spektrum IC3 equipped battery packs.
Ease of Use: One of the biggest reasons to go to a SMART style charger is for ease of use. From the ground up, the folks at Spektrum designed the S1200 to be one of the easiest chargers on the market to use. This is where the Spektrum SMART Technology really comes in handy. Each Spektrum SMART battery has a chip that talks to the Spektrum SMART Charger. That way, the charger knows exactly the capacity, cell count, and all the other pertinent information, that it needs to know for a safe, and perfect, charge. The S1200 has an IC3 battery connector and its menu system is quick, and easy, to learn. Each one of our testers took just minutes to learn the majority of the ins and outs of the charger, and none of them had to look for further instruction before using the charger. To charge, you simply plug a Spektrum SMART pack into the charger, click a couple buttons, and it starts safely charging away.
The SMART IC3 connectors even allow for the monitoring of temperature at the pack, which is a very important safety feature. You see, there is a certain temperature, that once past on a LiPo battery, there is no return. That point of “thermal runaway” is just north of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and once past that, the pack will keep burning until the fuel has been exhausted. The integrated microchip lets the charger know just how hot a pack is, and shut down the charge in case of overheating.
The combination of the SMART IC3 connectors, SMART LiPo packs with the Smart microchip, and Smart S1200 worked well for us. If you are into the “tech” side of things, the integrated microchip stores information like cycle count, unhealthy activities like the overcharge and discharge of the pack, battery temperature, and “C” rating. This info can come in very handy for those that are hardcore about their electronics, and allow you to autosave your preferred charging parameters for quick and safe re-charging.
Overall, just how easy it is to use? Well, the S1200 just might be the best combination of safety, along with ease of use, that we’ve had the chance to review. If you are a roughly a “normal” person, you’ll spend the typical 5 minutes getting used to the menu system and be good to go after that.
Power: While the S1200 is incredibly small, it certainly packs a punch. We found that the tiny unit had no problem doing an 8 amp charge on our 2S SMART packs, impressive, especially for a charger under a $70 price point. We definitely feel that the S1200 provides a lot of power for the money, as well as its size.
On the Track: After charging a few packs on the Spektrum S1200 and comparing them to the same packs charged on an iCharger 308, we found out a few things. All of the packs seemed strong, regardless of which charger they had been charged on, so we could not tell any noticeable difference in charge quality between the two chargers. The iCharger is known as one of the best on the market and the Spektrum S1200 seemed right on pace with it.
Misc Notes From The Test Crew:
The S1200 has a high-tech look. Also, its screen is FAR better than most on the market and pretty amazing for the price point.
Our wacky crew of testers found the S1200 super easy to use. We pride ourselves on trying to have “average hobbyists” on our team and none of them were put off by the menu system.
Of great importance to more and more users, the S1200 is one the safest chargers on the market. If safety is a very high priority to you, the Spektrum SMART chargers should be at the top of your list.
Our test crew loved just how small the charger was. The S1200 fits in almost anyone’s pit bag, which tend to keep getting smaller and smaller during this scale off-road era.
An 8 amp charger with the high-end SMART system for $69? You are getting some high-end technology at a very affordable price point with the S1200.
Final Verdict: The Spektrum SMART S1200 battery charger is a sweet looking unit that is small enough to fit in nearly anyone’s pit bag. It has a high-end screen that is super easy to read, but the technology inside the unit is the big news here. When used along with Spektrum SMART LiPo batteries, the S1200 is ridiculously easy to use. Perhaps more importantly, it is also one of the safest chargers that you can buy, at any price point. We’ve had great success using the Spektrum SMART Technology S1200 and SMART batteries, if you are looking for the latest and greatest, which can also give you a great deal of peace of mind thanks to its extra safety aspects, then you need to pick one up now!