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MAC Group introduces Xtreme Power external camera, laptop batteries  
Thursday, June 10, 2004 | by Eamon Hickey

U.S. photo products distributor the MAC Group (which also distributes Mamiya and PocketWizard products) has announced the Xtreme Power 20 and the Xtreme Power 10, two new external lithium-ion rechargeable batteries for powering cameras, flashes, laptops, cell phones, printers, external hard drives, and many other electronic devices.

The Xtreme Power 20 is compatible with nearly every digital SLR made by Canon, Nikon, and Kodak, as well as a wide variety of other digital cameras, Windows laptops, cell phones, and other electronic gear. The Xtreme Power 10 can run a similar list of electronic devices but is not compatible with cameras and flashes.

Both batteries have a capacity of 66.6 watt-hours, which gives them from 70-120% greater lasting power than competing external batteries, according to the MAC Group's Lorenzo Gasperini. In one test that the company conducted, the Xtreme Power 20 powered a Canon EOS 10D for almost 16,000 shots under best case conditions, and Gasperini says the battery will run a typical Windows laptop for six to eight hours.

In what is sure to be a disappointment for some, the Xtreme Power 20 is not officially compatible with Apple laptops, which require a voltage that the battery cannot supply (24 volts), and it can power flashes only through a low-voltage connector apparatus that inserts into the battery compartment, rather than directly into the high-voltage port found on certain portable flash units. This latter limitation translates into slower recycling times than provided by competing products, including the Digital Camera Battery.

Gasperini is aware of these limitations, and counters that their efforts to support - with readily available cables - a broad range of other electronic gizmos makes up for the Xtreme Power's flash and Mac laptop shortcomings.

As with most such products, you purchase an optional modular cable for each device you need to power. Both models feature dual power outlets, allowing them to run two devices simultaneously -- a digital SLR and a flash, for example, or a laptop and an external DVD burner. You can also use them to recharge cell phone, PDA, and MP3 player batteries. An optional female car cigarette lighter adapter is also available, allowing you to plug in any device with a male cigarette lighter power cable.

Both Xtreme Power units weigh 1.3 pounds, recharge in about four hours, and ship with a worldwide 120/220-volt AC adapter, as well as shoulder and belt straps.

Originally developed in Japan and available there under the Nexus brand name for several years, the batteries are now in stock in the MAC Group's U.S. warehouse. Gasperini says that about a dozen well-known pro-oriented U.S. dealers have already placed orders, and he expects to sign up many more U.S. dealers over the next couple of months.

Estimated street price for the Xtreme Power 20 in the U.S. is US$549.00 (the Xtreme Power 10 will sell for US$499.00).

A wide variety of camera and laptop cables are already available and more are planned (including versions for several external photo storage devices such as the Nikon Coolwalker). Cables range from 3 to 6 feet in length, are available in straight or coiled versions, and will sell for approximately US$45-55 (for cameras), US$35-50 (for laptops), US$35 (for cell phones), and US$55 (for flashes).

Gasperini says that the Xtreme Power web site will soon have a form for ordering custom cables, which the company will make for any device that doesn't exceed the unit's 19 volt DC upper limit.

The Xtreme Power products are not yet available in Canada or Europe.

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