If you’ve done any charger shopping lately, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of chargers look very much alike, with similar cases, button configurations, and displays. One charger that definitely does not fall into the “just another charger” trap is Team Orion’s Advantage Touch Duo. The unit has a minimalist look, with its appliance-white glossy case, and a complete lack of physical buttons—they’re all represented virtually on the LCD touchscreen. The 4-inch, 480 x 274 color display is light years beyond the blocky two-line displays most chargers use, and because the software developers weren’t limited to four buttons, the Touch Duo is extremely easy and intuitive to operate. And it’s powerful—you can charge at up to 10 amps per port and discharge at 5 amps, and the charger is ready to juice up the latest high-voltage LiPos as well as any of the other battery types we use in RC.
Programming and Setup
Team Orion supplies two charge leads with EC3 plugs and a pair of “4-in-1” balancing boards with the Touch Duo. The boards accept XH, TP/FP, EH, and HP/PQ balance plugs, so they’ll work with whatever packs you’ve got. Charger prep is just a matter of plugging everything in, but I was stumped as to where the AC power cord goes. Duh—it was under a warning decal that explained that I needed to set the voltage switch to 110 or 240 depending on what was coming out of the wall. Once powered up, the Touch Duo invites you to choose a language and then tells you to read the manual. Good advice, but I just hit the “Next” button because I’m a rebel and I wanted to see how intuitive the interface was. The next screen tells you to choose the battery type, with six labeled choices front and center—no scrolling required. I tapped “LiPo HV.” Next screen, cell count. I hit the “+” button to punch up two cells, and the charger asked for battery capacity, which I tapped up to 5200mAh. The next screen gives you the option to charge, discharge, cycle, store, or balance the pack, and displays the settings you’ve selected. The Touch Duo automatically sets the charge rate at 1C (in this case, 5.2 amps for my 5200mAh pack), but you can change the charge amperage to whatever you like, even while charging is underway. Charge progress is displayed numerically and graphically, with data for capacity, charge time, charge current, voltage and peak voltage, and resistance. Add an optional sensor and you can also see battery temperature. The Touch Duo also offers “advanced” options if you really want to get into customizing the settings. You can change the end-voltage value for charging and discharging, alter the charging cutoff temperature, change the safety timer setting and cycling delay time, and alter the delta-peak value for the Ni-Cd and NiMH charge modes. Afraid you adjusted something you shouldn’t have? Just hit the “Factory Reset” button and all will be made right again.
As expected for any modern charger, the Touch Duo will charge batteries all day without breathing heavy. Switching settings for different batteries is much faster than scrolling and clicking with a four-button charger—if you bother to tap through the settings at all. Anytime I created a new setting, I saved it to the charger’s memory. Recalling the settings just takes three taps. For charging power and versatility, the Touch Duo does more than I could ever need it to, with plenty of data to help me sort my best packs from the alsorans. The only things I found myself wishing for were a USB port so that I could charge my phone (there is a mini-USB port, however) and slightly longer charge and balance leads. I could say the same for nearly every charger I’ve tried—longer is better.
The Team Orion Advantage Touch Duo is an excellent charger based on capability alone, but its ease of use is what puts it over the top. Touchscreen tech is the way to go. It simplifies programming, and the big screen allows more information to be displayed more clearly, including graphic formats. If you just want to get juice into batteries, you can spend less. But if you want to really know how your packs are performing, and you’re keeping up with the latest high-voltage LiPo tech, the Touch Duo deserves a spot on your bench.—Peter Vieira