IDX IPL and iMicro Review

Ever since their announcement two years ago, I’ve been pestering IDX to send me their IPL batteries to try out. Late last year they were finally released and at about the same time, IDX announced a surprise new product, the Imicro batteries. I got my hands on both last week to test.

The IPL is the new flagship battery from IDX. Its main feature is their ability to stack - much like competitor PAG. This allows up to 4 batteries to piggyback off the other, enabling hot-swapping: the end battery is discharged first. With the VL-2000S charger, they can also charge stacked, with the top most battery given priority. With the exception of the Imicros, any other IDX batteries can also be put on the end of a stack too - on a camera or the charger.

Other features include 2 D-Taps, one of which can be used to charge through (a so-called ‘Advanced’ D-Tap) a USB output and a torch. The IPL 150 (143Wh) has a 11.3A draw and the IPL 98 (95Wh) has a 10.5A draw individually or both will reach 14A when stacked.

IDX IPL 98 and 150 V-Lock batteries

Finally, the other noteworthy aspect to the IPL is its design. As I’ve said before - batteries are hardly a sexy topic, but these really do look cool. Their height follows the form factor of modern cinema cameras like the Alexa Mini, Sony Venice or any of RED’s cameras giving a sleek, streamlined look. What’s more, both the IPL 98 and 150 are available in ’T’ variants - featuring a translucent case that, for a certain demographic (myself included) conjures nostalgic memories of a certain handheld games console from the 90s. Whilst regular black versions are available, the 98T and 150T are being produced in more limited quantities and are therefore slightly more costly.

Gameboy-color
Does the IDX IPL remind you of anything?

With the trend of cameras and now batteries getting smaller and smaller, Hawk-Woods and Bebob have both seen huge successes with their mini V-locks. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise to see IDX throw their hat into the ring when they announced the Imicros. Fortunately, I’ve not needed to wait 2 years to try them.

Both the Imicro 98 (97Wh) and Imicro 150 (145Wh) feature two D-Taps, one of which can be used to charge with like the IPLs. Compared to the other mini v-locks, the trade off is that it forgoes a USB port in favour of this second D-Tap. That said, IDX do have their own mini V-lock plate (P-VMicro) and a hot-swap plate (A-VMicro2), both of which have a USB-C and two more D-Taps. No word on whether these outputs will be swappable with a ‘regular’ USB-A, Lemo or Hirose. Let’s hope so. I also hope that IDX produce a ‘half size’ Imicro 50, but apparently I’m the only person to have asked them for one! Hawk-Woods and Bebob seem to be doing alright with them…

Other than their size and weight which, as detailed in previous battery test posts, I’ve highlighted as a major advantage, the Imicro has one more trick up its sleeve. Not only does the 150 have a 14A draw, but so too does the 98! This makes the Imicro 98 the only flight safe V-lock available with this whopping spec - mini or not. Mighty impressive!

The IPL and Imicro batteries were tested under identical conditions to all of the others, permitting a fair and even comparison. In short, they were brand new batteries, fully charged and then drained on an Arri Amira. Read more about the full methodology in the original post here. I did not test the IPLs stacked - only individually.

Let’s take a look at the results. You can see how they fare against all of the other manufacturers here.

Wh Runtime (m) Runtime (m/Wh) Charge duration (m) Charge duration (Wh/m)
IDX IPL 98 96 89 0.93 163 0.59
IDX IPL 150 143 137 0.96 208 0.69
IDX Imicro 98 97 95 0.98 162 0.60
IDX Imicro 150 145 143 0.99 206 0.70

 

The IPL 98 did reasonably well at 0.93 minutes per Watt hour, but the 150 reaches a higher efficiency of 0.96m/Wh. This makes it the best performing large capacity battery of all… until I tested the Imicros!

Wow! What a surprise! The Imicro 98 not only runs for an additional seven minutes (that’s 8% longer) than its mini rivals, it also jumps right onto the podium narrowly behind Anton Bauer and CoreSWX in the flight-safe category. The Imicro 150 however smashes all of the large capacity batteries and takes the top spot, beating out even its bigger brother, the IPL.

In terms of charging, the Imicros just squeeze ahead of the IPLs, and the 150s from both sets are slightly more efficient than their smaller siblings. Both sets sit somewhere in the middle of the pack, not the slowest but certainly not the fastest either. Fortunately, both sets charge faster than the IDX Duo-C batteries tested previously which were particularly slow. Charging was done on a VL-2000S charger, the same as used with the Duo-Cs.

Whilst I have not been using the metric of price when it comes to comparing batteries, I think it’s worth pointing out that the IPLs are the most expensive V-lock batteries currently available. That, and that they’re the new flagship battery from one of the premier battery brands, I was hoping that they would absolutely dominate the leaderboard. Whilst the IPL 98 did perform well, there are several other batteries that do better in the flight safe category - including IDX’s own Duo-C98.

IDX IPL 150 and the Arri Amira
IDX IPL 150 testing on the Arri Amira

So what do you get for your money? Well, the ability to stack is certainly a big selling point. Their rugged build also suggests that they’ll be much tougher than the Imicros and indeed many other batteries. As explained in my original battery test, along with things like drop-testing and extreme temperature, I cannot test for a battery’s lifespan. Given that the Imicros have such a high output current, I suspect they won’t last as long as the IPLs. The flame that burns twice as bright…

That said, the Imicros are, at the time of writing, the cheapest of the mini V-locks, and are around half the price of the IPLs. Even if they don’t quite attain the same lifespan as the IPLs, or they get dropped and crack in their thinner shell, it’s just as cheap to replace it than to have bought an IPL to begin with.

Along with the inherent advantages of their size - I can mount two Imicros on a hot-swap plate with the same volume and weight as one ‘regular’ battery and double my runtime - and the fact that they perform as well as they do, they certainly make for a compelling purchase.

No doubt the IPLs or indeed any of the other batteries I’ve tested over the past two years will be more suitable for different users for different reasons, but for me, I think I’ve finally reached the end of my testing and have found the ‘best battery’.

IDX iMicro batteries
IDX Imicro 98 and 150 V-Lock batteries

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