Cons: Does not work at all.
I've been driving a loaner car which is my uncle's 1995 Ford Escort for over a month now, and I've noticed that the warning buzzer is barely audible. I've locked myself out once because I did not hear the warning that I left my keys in the ignition. Not only that, but I've had on several occasion left the headlights on.
Why Buy One?
I drive to work at around 6:30am, which is pretty dark during the winter season. The headlights need to be used during this time. By the time I get to work, it's around 7:30am, and the sun is out. I would forget the headlights are on after I park because there would be daylight. You can only hear the buzzer if the car was in the garage and it's dead silent. This condition rarely present itself any other time.
It's hard to get someone to help jump start my car, so finally, I decided to get a portable jump-start device. I remember there were a few that plugs into the cigarette lighter and provide extra juice to get things going. However, I've always been skeptical because starting the car requires a lot of current, and the fuse to the cigarette lighter would trip if I were to try to jump start the car from it. What's even more perplexing was that on most cars, when you crank the starter, power to the cigarette lighter is disabled (there is no connectivity between the socket and the battery when you crank the starter).
But still, these things exist for a reason, so I figure I can buy on and if it turns out that it didn't work, I can always return it.
The Black & Decker Simple Start Battery Booster Model: BB7B
After looking around at Walmart by my work place, I found many battery chargers that plug into an outlet to charge up a car battery. I finally found one that had a built-in battery to jump-start a car. It was the Black & Decker "Simple Start" Battery Booster. I bought it, and decided to charge it up at work.
The model I bought was the BB7B. It is about the size of two bricks stuck together and feels just as heavy. An AC adapter came with the unit, which you can use to charge the internal lead-acid battery. You can also charge it via the cigarette lighter socket.
It also comes with a LED spot light that isn't really that bright. I guess it's better than nothing if you are stuck in the dark somewhere.
I call this section "My Experience" instead of my usual "In Use" because I never really got to use this thing. Read on to find out why.
When I first got it, I wanted to charge it up. I read the manual, and the process of charging was pretty strange. Once you plug it in to the wall outlet, you have to first turn on the device. It'll beep once, then you hit the "recharge battery" button. Why doesn't it just charge after you plug it in?
However, as soon as I pushed the "recharge battery" button, the BB7B started to beep like a smoke detector! It's just as loud as one, too! Startled, I pulled the plug. I was in an environment where everyone works in cubicals, so it caused a few to wonder what was going on. According to the manual, it was only suppose to beep once when I hit the button to charge, and the "charging" light was suppose to blink. Instead, I get this smoke alarm sounding off while the charging light stays solid.
I unplugged it and decided to see if I can charge it in the car on the ride home. Now, according to the manual, I am to plug it up and turn it on (just like using the AC adapter to charge). Then, of course, I am suppose to hit the same "recharge battery" button. Guess what happens next? Yup, it started to ring out loudly, but this time, the charge light was blinking. I was going to deal with the racket to see if the BB7B actually worked, but I couldn't stand the beeping, so I disconnected after a full minute.
When I got home, I decided I could try to charge this noisy battery in the basement so it would not disturb everyone in the house. However, just like a smoke detector, you can still hear it throughout the house! I could still hear it on the 2nd floor! It wasn't as annoying so I left it.
The next morning, I went back to the basement to unplug the beeping monster. And SURPRISE! The battery was still not charged!
The only thing that worked was the LED spotlight, which you can turn on when you plug in the AC Adapter or car adapter and turn the unit on without hitting the "recharge" button. But you see, the light is actually using the power from the outlet, not the internal battery. Once you unplug it from the power source, the LED spotlight goes out. So even then, the LED spotlight is useless.
The next day, I went back to Walmart to exchange the BB7B, since I figured some customer must've dropped it or opened it and broke it. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe it's just a defect on that particular unit.
My experience with the second BB7B was exactly the same as the first unit! Three time's a charm, right? Well, the third BB7B did the same thing. I decided to get my $47 back and vowed not to get another BB7B again.
Other People's Experiences
I figured that with 2 units "bad", I may be using it wrong. I mean, Black & Decker is a respected company, and I have never seen an entire model line be bad but still sold on store shelves around the country! So I went on the internet and did a Google search. Surprisingly, that was the case. While I read a few user reviews that said it worked, there are many more who experienced the same issues I've encountered.
For those who said it worked, they say you had to put your ignition in the ACC position, hit the "booster" button on the BB7B, and then wait 10-20 minutes to let it charge the car's battery. So THATS how this device works! It doesn't really jump-start your car. It is suppose to slowly charge your car's own battery up to a point where it can start your car! Because of this, the painful wait to do this makes it less of a jump-start and more of a portable emergency battery charger.
I probably would have returned it anyways even if it worked when I find that out later.
The Black & Decker Simple Start Battery Booster Model BB7B (what a long name!) is simply a defective product no matter what. After going through 3 BB7Bs, there was no way that it was simply a bad unit. Black & Decker really should look into why this product just doesn't work.
Most things I buy and review just simply work. I may have a few complaints, but most do their job. Sure they can be done better, and my ratings reflect it. The BB7B is the first product I've used that just didn't work at all. I rarely give products 1-star, but I am sad to say this is an occasion where I would have to.
So what do I do now? I guess I'd just have to remember to turn off my headlights!