Sanyo Eneloop Pedal Juice battery pack preview

It's Christmas Day, which probably means that at least one toy that you received (or gave) won't be fully functional until Monday. Why? Batteries. It's an age-old problem, that "batteries not included" thing, and it's one of the reasons we've fell so in love with Sanyo's Eneloop line. Without question, the Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries are amongst the best and most reliable that money can buy, so whenever another Eneloop product pops out, it obviously catches our eye. Sanyo's branching out pretty severely with its latest device, and being that at least 3.5 members of the Engadget staff have strummed a six-string once or twice, we had to take a closer look at the Pedal Juice when given the chance. For those that missed last month's introduction, this pedal-sized block of energy is designed to provide 9V power to six or seven effects pedals, miniature amplifiers or electric drum pads (amongst other musical doodads). So, does this thing live up to the Eneloop reputation? Find out after the break.

For starters, the Pedal Juice is surprisingly light. Sanyo claims it's about the size of an average effects pedal, and that's pretty much right on the mark. It'll fit easily into a single slot in your pedal case, and it includes a pair of direct outputs beside a single AC input. It'll fully charge in just 3.5 hours, and it's capable of powering a single analog effects pedal for up to 50 hours. More practically, it'll power a half-dozen pedals for 8 to 15 hours. We tested this ourselves with our local garage band and found that latter figure to be accurate. We didn't bother hooking up more than seven pedals (Guitar Center and Sam Ash were closed today -- go figure), but that setup lasted approximately ten hours before petering out.

We also appreciated the signal LED; there's just a single light atop the box, which can flash at different intervals and emit three different colors to let you know at a glance how much energy is left. Better still, it'll power your pedals while also being charged. In our estimation, there's only two real downsides to this: first off, no daisy chain cabling is included. You'll get two power cables -- enough to power a pair of pedals -- along with a single cable for reversing polarity. But the real beauty of this thing is its ability to power five, six, seven or more pedals; if you want to do so, however, you'll need to make a run to Radio Shack and blow $20 to $30 more on splitters. And that runs right into our second qualm: the price. At $149.99, you'll need to burn through an awful lot of 9V batteries to make this worthwhile.

The reality is that most guitarists will have access to a power strip, and since you're responsible for buying the daisy chain cabling with or without the Pedal Juice, there's a pretty small market that would actually be interested in this. We'd love for this to serve a somewhat broader purpose -- if you've got eight effects pedals going into an amplifier, you've got a power outlet within arm's reach. And if you're hoping to use this as a sort of power backup to ensure your pedals keep humming in case of a power failure, well... you best hope your amp is also connected to a generator. It's a brilliant concept, and it most certainly works as advertised, but the asking price does indeed seem a bit steep given the limited functionality.