There’s a video going around called “The Four Stages of Vaping”. One of the things it talks about is that new users often choose a cigarette-style device as their first PV. I personally started with a KGO and it will remain one of my go-to devices, but I was curious about how a smaller unit would perform for me.
First of all, if you’re a heavy vaper looking for a portable alternative, buy THREE batteries total, at least. Any of these devices will give you an acceptable to good vape — for as long as the battery lasts. Having a PCC (personal charging case) will help a ton, but it’s still possible for a heavy vaper to run battery #1 dry while #2 is still charging. (I only had this happen once, but it was still irritating.) If you don’t go with a PCC, you’ll want one battery to vape with, a second for a spare, and a third in your charger at home to swap out.
The first device I tried was the Mistic, available at Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, and Pilot truck stops (among other places). This KR808-ish device is rapidly becoming ubiquitous, which I think can only be good for vaping in general. I got mine at Sam’s Club for around $9, as a pack with one battery, a charger, and two prefilled menthol cartos.
The Mistic unit is the cheapest to start with, hands down. The unit looks the most like a cigarette of all the ones I’ve tested — white battery, red LED, white or orange cartos. Vapor production is OK to good, depending on the juice you use. The flavor of the Mistic prefilled menthols isn’t my favorite — it’s more reminiscent of toothpaste mint than what I prefer — but it’s a clean, powerful flavor at 18mg, so for me it’s satisfying enough. Battery life was 2-3 hours at a modest vape pace.
When the flavor started to flag I cracked one open to refill, not a trivial operation. You’ll need to remove the paper wrapping, then use something to pry out the hard plastic cap. You’ll likely have to crack it in half to get it out, meaning you’ll need a soft end-cap or a drip tip. I refilled with Menthol Meditation, and the flavor was reasonably clean. Unfortunately, the included cartos ended up tasting slightly of socks by the third refill or so. Most Volt cartos fit, with a small gap in the threading that’s unsightly but doesn’t affect use. One of my five Volt cartos simply would not thread at all, however.
I put the Mistic to the side after about three days of moderate use, but the battery’s still hanging out as a backup for my Volt. But if someone was interested in e-cigs and wasn’t willing to start with an online order, this is what I’d point them to.
Mistic Pros: Cheap initial cost, the closest I’ve seen to a quality “semi-disposable” unit.
Mistic Cons: Prefilled cartos are prohibitively expensive ($15 or so). Not every KR808 carto I fit to it actually threaded.
Next up is the Volt from smokelessimage.com. I’ve always heard good reviews of the Volt and had been curious for a while, so after trying the Mistic I ordered 1 battery, charger, and a 5-pack of empty cartos. I also picked up a few “Comfort Tips” (hard rubber drip tips). Total was about $25, but their basic starter kit retails for around $40 with the PCC-based kit in the $60s.
The Volt’s battery life at my vape pace is 3-4 hours, which was impressive from such a small device. Excellent vapor production. I filled several of the empty cartos using the condom method, and found flavor to be accurate. I’m used to Boge cartos, and these, other than the 808 threading, posed no surprises. One of the best surprises about the whole experience is how much I like their drip tip mouthpieces, which are only $2 for a set of 5. They’re hard rubber, so they’re quite comfortable between your teeth. These are the only drip tips I prefer to use for handsfree vaping.
Volt Pros: Best battery life, one-stop-shopping from smokeless image.com. Provides prefilled cartos ($10/5 pack) in a variety of flavors, which is excellent for a first-timer.
Volt Cons: None off the top of my head. It’s a solid device. I’d prefer it had 510 threading to match all my other devices, but that’s personal preference.
Finally, I’ve been using a Joye 510 setup for the weekend. I picked up a number of 510 batteries along with two different PCCs to compare.
(I’d previously played around with the Q510 disposable, but it’s strictly a novelty — battery life is very, very short. I kept the attys and tossed the rest. The one positive thing I can say about the Q510 is its ridiculously low price — $6 for one battery, charger, atty, and two cartridges — but it’s still not worth it. Vape time, for me, was less than 20 minutes on a fully charged battery.)
Having had a bad initial experience with cig-sized 510 batteries, I was wary. But the Joye units give me around 2 hours vape time at my pace, which is enough time for the second battery to charge to full. I charge the PCC at night, and I’m good. As I said above, I did run into one instance (while chain-vaping some new flavors) where neither battery was at full charge and I had to pull out a third one for a while. If you are someone who regularly runs an 1100mAh Ego battery dry daily, this could be an issue.
The 510′s vape quality, on Boge SR cartos, is practically indistinguishable from an Ego with the same carto fitted. (Of course, an Ego can use LR cartos, so you’re not getting the largest possible amount of vapor available on a 510-threaded device.) I’ve been fully satisfied using this setup for about 48 hours.
I picked up two PCCs to try out — the official Joye PCC, and the Revolver G2 PCC. Both have issues; the former only holds one battery and three cartos, while the latter is rather heavily labeled with some “tattoo-like” branding. (My wife said it looked like a leftover from a Harley-Davidson meetup.) Both function much the same, although the Revolver PCC holds 2-3 batteries as well as 4-5 cartos. The Revolver case is also about $10 more, but mostly it will come down to personal preference. So far I’ve gone with the Joye PCC in my pants pocket, and an assembled 510 in a shirt or jacket pocket.
510 Pros: 510 threading makes it compatible with nearly every accessory on the market. Relatively inexpensive. Very solid performance.
510 Cons: Middling battery life. (The PCC does cover this.)
It was an interesting experience to put my PVs of choice away for a while and try something new. Overall, I prefer the 510 setup. The KR808 performs well enough, but I have a comfort zone of the cartos and accessories I use, and the 510 handles every one of them. And there are higher capacity 510 batteries than the ones I’m using.
Based on my evaluation, I’ll be carrying prefilled cartos for both 808 and 510 threading. My personal preference is going to stay with the 510, but they’re both solid devices.