Earlier this year I spent five whole days watching batteries drain and then recharge. It was so thrilling that I've decided to do it again; this time with industry favourites PAG and IDX. If you haven't read the original article, I recommend doing so as it details the methodology of my testing in addition to discussing a variety of factors that I did or did not take into account and also what you should consider when buying a battery - which isn't limited to simply which lasts the longest.

PAG are best known for their stackable battery system. By mounting a battery onto the back of another, you can double your runtime and increase the maximum draw to 12 amps. They can also be charged simultaneously too - charging up to 16 batteries on a two channel charger in two stacks of 8. I'll be testing their classic PL96T and PL150T along with the PL16 charger. Also available are the PL96e and PL150e batteries - identical save for the fuel gauge at the top; the 'T' model has a 7 segment numeric display whereas the 'e' model has more basic LED ring indicator. All of their batteries are in the same size case, and PAG claim the PL150 models are "the smallest and lightest 150Wh V-Mount Li-Ion battery brought to market, with the highest energy density". This was true, until the introduction of the new mini Hawk-Woods and Bebob batteries.

IDX are a common sight in both broadcast and studio environments, with a long history and broad range of V-mount batteries. Next year, IDX will be releasing their hotly anticipated IPL batteries: these are stackable much like the PAGs and so I'm keen to see just how well they stack up (if you'll excuse the pun!) This year however, they released the newest iteration of their traditional batteries, the Endura Duo-C98 and Endura Duo-C198. The 'C' denotes compact - the Duo-Cs are noticeably thinner than those they're replacing. There is a Duo-C150 available from about now, however I did not test this particular battery. The 150 and 198s both feature the same case - and so are the same size, with the 150 being only marginally lighter. Therefore the 198 is superior in terms of capacity versus mass and volume.

My testing methodology is exactly the same as my previous tests. Here are the results, and below that are some of my additional notes and thoughts. A full list of all tested batteries for comparison can be found here.

Wh Runtime (m) Runtime (m/Wh) Charge duration (m) Charge duration (Wh/m)
IDX Duo-C98 96 92 0.96 181 0.53
IDX Duo-C198 191 181 0.95 294 0.65
PAG PL96T 96 89 0.93 177 0.54
PAG PL150T 150 138 0.92 249 0.60

 

The IDX batteries performed extremely well in regards to runtime, second only to Anton Bauer and Core-SWX. Conveniently, they feature two D-Taps (one of which can be charged through), a USB and an LED torch. The torch is turned on by double pressing the fuel gauge button, however the USB needs to be manually turned on too - by holding the button for a few seconds. It isn't particularly clear that this is the case - I've been on productions where experienced ACs were under the impression the USB didn't work. Back to the test results, and the charging durations were the slowest of any battery tested. I was provided with a VL-2000S charger which, according to IDX's own suggested charging times, is their second fastest charger. Incidentally, the manufacturers guide reads that the C98 should take 170 minutes (11 minutes faster than my testing) and the C198 should take 270 minutes (24 minutes faster). It is worth noting that both of these figures are not far off my 'real-world' testing and so I don't think that they're un-representative of actual performance. Even with IDX's own 'optimistic' figures, they're still slow compared to much of the competition, but at least they're being open and honest about it! Both IDX batteries and chargers are fairly advanced compared to some of the competition and this may be the cause of the extended charge times. The last few percent of a battery's capacity takes an exponentially longer time (and significantly more energy) to charge, and the IDX chargers take that extra time to condition the batteries in the safest and most efficient manner. However, that said, the VL-2000S charger has a 'life plus' mode which reduces charge times by only charging the batteries to 90-95%. I did not use this mode in my testing, though IDX claim that it greatly extends the lifespan of the battery and also significantly reduces electricity consumption.

The PAG batteries also performed well as you would expect from a reputable brand. Charge times were not so great, though were faster than IDX. PAG's suggested charge time for a PL96 to take approximately 2.5 hours and the PL150 to take about 50% longer. This equates to 27 minutes faster than my testing for the PL96 and 24 minutes faster for the PL150. Like IDX, it seems PAG have taken a more conservative approach to charging as opposed to just blasting the batteries with voltage. Almost every battery I've tested (not just the PAGs) read 'full' before the charger did. The PAGs all displayed '100' on the batteries 40 minutes prior to the charger reading 'Done'. A comment from PAG - when the batteries change from '95' to '100', they're at 96%. Just goes to show how much extra effort and time is required for that last 4%! All of my results list the charge time as when the charger says it is complete. When speaking with PAG prior to testing, I was intrigued to learn that their Gold mount flight safe batteries use different cells than the V-mount counterparts and therefore may perform differently. The V-mount is 96Wh with an 8A draw; the Gold mount is 94Wh with a 10A draw. (The Gold mount PL150 uses the same cells as the V-mount PL150.) To satisfy my curiosity, PAG kindly provided some Gold mount batteries and a charger for me to test too. (Keen eyed readers will notice the batteries in the photo at the top are the Gold mounts.) All of the testing so far has been V-mount only and so these results won't be included on the battery page, but are presented here as a bonus:

Wh Runtime (m) Runtime (m/Wh) Charge duration (m) Charge duration (Wh/m)
PAG PL94T (GM) 94 89 0.95 161 0.58
PAG PL96T (VM) 96 89 0.93 177 0.54

 

It runs for the same duration despite the lower capacity - and charges faster too!

Next year IDX are releasing their stackable IPL batteries, and in September this year, PAG unveiled a new line of batteries (presumably to compete with the likes of Hawk-Woods and Bebob) the Mini PAGlink system. With any luck they'll be made available next year too and I look forward to giving them a try. As exciting as battery testing is, I cannot hope to test every battery possible. This year there were a number of cool new products from various manufacturers that meant it was a good time as any to do this sort of investigation. I was keen on testing PAG and IDX and am glad I've had the opportunity to now do so, however I think I've decided that after the IPLs and Mini PAGs, unless anyone reveals something completely radical, I'll be hanging up my battery testing hat!

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