The new model has a Lithium Iron (LiFe) battery that reduces the weight by over a kilo and increases the capacity from 160 to 200 flashes. Contrary to the fears raised in my Quadra review, the lithium batteries have been certified safe or air travel. The new pack also integrates Profoto's new Air system to allow for wireless triggering and power control. These improvements now make it a formidable competitor to the Quadras I reviewed earlier.
In a nice bit of design, the new LiFe batteries will work in the old AcuteB generators and the the old lead-acid batteries will work in the new AirS generators - so people with the older model can mix and match as they like. You can also use them while they are recharging (note - the Quadras may also do this, I'm not sure).
So to update my previous comparison between the Quadra and the AcuteB:
Profoto AcuteB Pros:
- Half a stop more power (600ws versus 400ws for the Quadra)
- More flashes (160 at full power versus 100) - now 200 flashes versus 100
- Faster recycling (1 sec versus 2 secs at 400ws)
- Takes all existing profoto modifiers without an adapter
Profoto Acute B Cons:
- Bulkier and heavier (nearly 8kg for a pack/cable/head versus 5kg) - now only 6.5kg
- No ability to adjust output wirelessly - now has ProAir integration
- More expensive
So while it is still heavier and bulkier, the gap has reduced considerably, and you get the advantages of 50% more power and twice the battery life. If you throw in a spare battery for the Quadra to make it able to equal the AcuteB's 200 flashes, then the weight and bulk of the two systems are essentially equal while you still get to enjoy the extra power of the Profoto.
I typically rent my gear, but if I was in the market for a battery flash system right now then I'm pretty sure these would be at the top of my shopping list. Read an FAQ about them here.
If you need more power
In a related note, Profoto has also upgraded the B2, the AcuteB's bigger brother, with a new 1200ws unit called the Profoto B3 1200 AirS. Featuring the same new LiFe battery technology and ProAir integration, this is certainly going to be a welcome upgrade from the old 7b and B2 for those who need the extra power. The Elinchrom Ranger Speed AS, the 1100ws top-of-the-range big brother to the Quadra, is looking a bit stale compared to this.