On May 24th Panasonic held a publicity stunt for their Evolta alkaline batteries involving a toy robot powered by two AA Evoltas climbing a 530 meter rope hung off a cliff at the Grand Canyon. Since it took 6 hours and 45 minutes, I don’t think robot rope climbing is going to become a spectator sport anytime soon, but it made me curious as to what Evolta batteries really are good for.
Looking at the specs from when Evoltas were announced in January, one claim is that they store more power than prior batteries which was apparently the point of the robot rope climbing.
The new battery cell has a discharge performance almost 1.3-2 times higher than that of the company’s existing alkaline battery cell. When compared, based on the discharge modes set by JIS and ANSI, it is the longest-lasting AA battery cell in the world, the company said.
In a comparative test conducted by the company using two AA cells, EVOLTA could flash a strobe light 277 times, while the existing alkaline and oxyride battery cells could set off 203 and 255 flashes, respectively.
Oxyride batteries are a variant of alkaline also from Panasonic designed for high-drain digital devices. However, even compared to ordinary alkalines, the numbers are closer to 1.3 than 2 in discharge performance although as always your mileage may vary. As for cost:
There is no manufacturer’s suggested retail price, but the expected market price for both a pack of four AA cells and a pack of four AAA cells will be about ¥590 (US$5.57). A pack of two D cells and a pack of two C cells are expected to be about ¥570 and ¥420, respectively. The prices will be approximately 15% higher compared with the existing alkaline battery cells, the company said.
So nominally you would be getting somewhat more power for your buck from Evoltas. Still, I find that these days a much more economical alternative to alkaline batteries for most of my gadgets is Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeables. You have to recharge them yourself, of course, and you have to rotate your spares since the shelf life isn’t great (although they are working on that problem), but you more than make up for their initially higher cost with the repeated reuse.
However, the real advantage to Evoltas may well be in shelf life:
The recommended use period for all models of EVOLTA was prolonged from 5 to 10 years because the battery life was extended.
I recently had a number of Ray-O-Vac alkalines that I bought cheaply at a local store start to leak after about 3 years on my shelf. If Evoltas really do last approximately 10 years, then they would be perfect for stashing away for emergencies or whatever, and that sounds like the best argument for paying extra. For frequently replaced batteries, I would still recommend rechargeable NiMH.