This list brings some insight on the vape game for both the pros and new vapers alike.
Yes, we realize this ubiquitous Genesis-style atomizer has been reviewed to death, but it’s almost a requirement, if you’re going to own gennies, that this one has to be in the collection. As far as bargain-basement Genesis atomizers go, it’s the de-facto standard.
The AGA-T version 2 is a stainless steel Genesis-type atomizer, meaning that it is intended to be used with a rolled, stainless steel mesh wick, at the top of which a wire coil is placed to vaporize the juice as it is drawn up from a tank below. This is considered by many to actually be the third major revision of the AGA-T line, though other than the glass tank, it is identical to the second, usually referred to as the AGA-T+.
Other than the borosilicate tank, other differences from the original AGA-T include a press-on cap that allows throat hit adjustment by positioning the air hole, and a somewhat cleaner look as the result of the elimination of knurling on the exterior parts. Both have been mostly regarded as major improvements to this atomizer.
Like other Genesis atomizers, how well the AGA-T2 performs is going to depend mostly on the wick and coil you set it up with. The atomizer does not come with a wick and coil pre-installed, though small pieces of stainless steel mesh and resistance wire are included in a tiny packet in the box. We chose not to use those, mostly because it was not apparent what materials were used, or the specification of the mesh and wire. We opted instead for known quantities, using our own mesh and kanthal wire for testing.
We tested the AGA-T2 with two builds: one using 400 mesh and 32-gauge kanthal, for a coil resistance of approximately 2.0Ω, and a second build using 28-gauge kanthal and 400 mesh, with a resistance of .9Ω. The AGA-T2 performed very well under both configurations. We ran into no issues with wicking or leaks, vapor production was copious, and taste was excellent. Granted, more credit for this performance probably belongs to our own skills at setting up a Genesis than to the AGA-T2 itself, but nothing about the AGA-T2 made it particularly difficult.
It should probably be noted that many have noted a problem with hot spots at the top of the coil on the AGA-T2. While most blame the distance from the coil to the top post, we find it far more likely to be the result of the way the top of the coil is connected between two very small nuts on the center post. If one is not careful, it is easy to pull the wire when tightening the top nuts. This may tighten the coil at the top of the wick, ands can easily lead to the wire cutting through any oxidation layer. Doing so may result in a short, and consequently, a hot spot. We did experience this with our 32-gauge setup, though it was not an issue with the thicker 28-gauge wire.
Other issues that have been mentioned include rough edges on the glass tanks. While these seemed to be quite common in early batches of the AGA-T2, they seem to be less common now. It seems likely that the manufacturer has responded to complaints about tank quality.
Another common complaint we’ve heard is that the tank fits loosely, causing leaks. In most cases, though, this has been caused by a misunderstanding of how to assemble the tank. When the tank is put in place, the AGA-T2 can be tightened down by simply twisting the top cap; it will then screw down tightly onto the tank. In most cases where leaks were reported, they were the result of having tried to use the nuts on the center post to tighten things down, and yes, if you only do this the AGA-T2 will leak. Don’t ask us how we know this; it’s a little embarrassing.
SmokTech’s new Drunker is an odd little rebuildable atomizer. Shaped like a beer bottle, it holds two wicks that pass into a 5ml tank through four wick holes. At the top of the unit, the wicks meet in a tiny ceramic cup where a rebuildable coil vaporizes the juice.
We didn’t expect much from it, frankly. The dangling strings and knurled design give it a bit of a retro look (retro being relative to vaping timelines, of course, and meaning that the Drunker looks like an atomizer from the long-ago days of, say, 2011 or early 2012). However, we’ve found the wick and coil design, even right out of the box with no fiddling, to be very effective. The included coil is approximately 2.4 ohms (ours measured 2.6 ohms). Vapor production has been very good, flavor is minimally muted, and we have experienced no leaks or dry hits, even under heavy use.
Rebuilding the Drunker is a relatively simple affair, the only really difficult parts being convincing the ends of the wicks to go through the small-diameter holes into the tank, and feeding the wires through the tiny holes in the cup. Adeline submitted an excellent post on ECF, “Inside the Drunker Tank,” illustrating how to rebuild the atomizer. We used this as our guide and found it to be relatively painless.
The Drunker’s diameter is approximately 20mm, making it ideal for slant-top mods. If you happen to have a Kamry KTS x6 like the one we recently reviewed, the Drunker is a particularly excellent aesthetic choice, as the fit is flush and the knurling of the Drunker matches the knurling on the KTS quite well. As one of our squad members pointed out, the two look like they were made for each other.
While it is quite possible to use the Drunker without a drip tip due to the long neck, standard 510 tips will fit, and may be more comfortable to use.
Vaping is definitely a global thing. Take the Deus Mods Prism, for example. The Prism is a collaboration between mod makers in the Philippines and Korea, and to make things even more global, we heard about it through the Canadian distributor, Apothecar•E. We were impressed enough from the description to order one sent to our HQ in Texas, which gave our Prism quadruple citizenship before it had ever had an atomizer attached to it.
The Deus Mods Prism is a mechanical mod, built to accommodate batteries ranging from an 18350 up to an 18650. Adjustments are made simple by a dual-telescoping design (the bottom and top tubes both extend from inside a hexagonal center tube), much like the Grand Vapor Private we’ve reviewed here previously. It’s an elegantly simple design that allows easy battery size adjustments by extending or retracting either or both of the end tubes, meaning neither has to move very far, so switching to different sized batteries is quick and easy.
We have to admit we were very impressed with the mod right out of the box. The Deus Mods Prism is built from weighty SUS 304 food grade stainless steel, and has all the hallmarks of a very well-built mod. In addition to the 4.6-ounce heft of the mod without a battery inserted, the we’ve found the threads everywhere to be about as buttery smooth as we’ve seen. One of the selling points of the Prism is that it is manufactured in an ISO 9001:2008-compliant facility, and while we at first brushed that off as marketing-speak, once we got the mod in our hands the attention to manufacturing details and quality control was very apparent. We’re not exaggerating by saying this really looks and feels like one of the best-built mods we’ve had our hands on.
There’s a lot to like about the Deus Mods Prism, not the least of which is its very unique look. In a market increasingly filled with knockoffs, copies and imitations, the Prism stands out. The hexagonal center tube we mentioned above plays a large part in that; the play of light on the surface makes the Prism recognizable even from a pretty large distance, and has the added benefit of preventing the mod from rolling when it is laid on its side. The top and bottom caps also sport a unique diamond cut engraving that adds a bit more showiness to the mod. If you’re a stealth vaper who’d rather not have people notice that you’re vaping, the Prism is probably not your mod. It practically begs for attention.
In addition to the eye-grabbing design, the Prism also features laser engraving of a Deus Mods logo and a small serial number on the center tube, as well as a second logo on the button which is an amalgamation of the Korean flag’s yin-yang symbol imposed on the Philippine sun. The two symbols look great together and very effectively tell a story about how the mod was made.
The Prism’s not just about looks, though. It’s got all the features you’d expect in a high-quality mechanical mod, including things like silver-coated copper contacts and a floating positive pin, and grooves cut into the top cap to improve atomizer air flow. It’s got a reverse-threaded locking ring above the bottom-mounted button, and while we’ve found it difficult on other mods to lock the button without accidentally unscrewing it, we’ve had no such issues with the Prism. We’ve also found that the button has just the right amount of stiffness that it won’t fire if stood on end without engaging the lock, but not so much that the button is difficult to press.
Performance of the mod was quite good on our load tests, with an average voltage retention of approximately 95%, or a drop of around .2 volts from a battery charged to 4.2 volts. While we’ve some mods crank out more volts, we’ve seen very few which performed as consistently as the Deus Mods Prism, which gave us exactly the same voltage every time the button was pressed, varying only as the voltage within the battery dropped.
Considering the quality of hardware we’ve seen coming from Korea and the Philippines in the last year or so, we had high hopes for the Deus Mods Prism — and having used it for several days we now, we have to say that it’s lived up to them, by proving to a be an extremely well-built mod with consistently good performance, and more than enough style to look good in the hand. Priced at $215 from Deus Mods, this mod will put a bit of a dent in the bank account, but in the case of the Prism we think you get what you pay for.
We’ll be looking forward to what comes out of this multi-national collaboration in the future, and until then, we’ll be getting a lot of use out of our Prism.
If you’re into looking for the bright side of things, one of the fun parts about moving is having forwarded packages show up long after you’d forgotten they were on the way. One of those recent arrivals was a couple of Innokin iTaste VV’s that we’d been planning to try out, but had taken so long making their way through the post office, twice, that having them show up in the mailbox was a bit like finding a $20 bill in the pocket of some old jeans.
The Innokin iTaste VV is sort of a cross between an eGo Twist and an MVP 2.0, with the small form factor of an eGo, and the sort of flexible, easy-to-use functionality familiar to users of other Innokin products. At 15mm wide and under 110mm long, it’s the smallest variable wattage device we’ve reviewed so far.
The iTaste VV is a bit unusual in appearance for an eGo-sized PV. Innokin, who has been taking some design risks lately and shunning the traditional cigarette-like shape and size of other vendors, chose to make the VV square. Near the bottom is a small LCD panel and two buttons: a configuration that will be very familiar to users of Innokin’s iTaste MVP, and the VV works very similarly to the MVP.
Where the controls diverge from those of the MVP are mostly in the functions that control variable wattage, which is only just being added to the 2.0 version of the MVP that is just now starting to ship from vendors. With the + and – buttons, wattage can be adjusted from 6 to 11 watts, in .5 watt increments. If desired, variable voltage can also be used, and the iTaste VV supports a range of 3.3 to 5 volts in that mode. In both modes, we found the devices’ output to be very accurate.
The iTaste VV also includes atomizer resistance detection and short-circuit and overcharge protection, in addition to its MVP-like battery voltage detection, which will illuminate the button green , yellow or red to indicate the charge level of the battery.
Speaking of the battery — it’s one of the areas where we find the iTaste VV to be a bit lacking. All of the circuitry of the VV takes up space inside the unit, leaving less room for the battery. Presumably in order to keep the device small, Innokin has placed an 800 mAh battery in it, which is roughly equivalent to some of the lower-capacity eGos on the market. The iTaste VV won’t hold a charge for very long, but fortunately a few features make this less of a problem than it might be with other PVs. For starters, at the bottom of the unit is a Micro USB port that makes hooking the iTaste VV to a charger simple, and the device can be used as a passthrough device, meaning you can keep vaping while it’s charging. The VV comes with a wall charger and a handy retractable USB cable that fits easily in a pocket.
Our iTaste VVs arrived in two models: one that came with a box of five iClear 16 clearomizers, and another which came with a box of five iClear 10s clearos. There are differences between the two models on the battery end as well: the iClear 16 version uses a standard 510 connector, making it usable with any 510-based atomizer, and has beveled edges that give the VV a clean, finished look, even with a rounded atomizer on top.
The 10S version of the iTaste VV is a bit more specialized. It’s also got a 510 connection, but it’s completely squared off to better match the looks of the square 10S atomizer, and also includes a pen-cap-like atomizer cover that fits snugly over an iClear 10S. The unit looks very clean and is practically leak-proof when fully assembled, resembling a high-tech, squared off fountain pen. However, we’ve had a bit of trouble with the iClear 10S atomizers staying connected. The threads are a bit shallow, and don’t grip well, so we’ve experienced a bit of frustration in finding the point where we’ve screwed the atomizer on tight enough that it will function, but not so tight that it comes back off the threads. The 10S is also a very low-capacity atomizer, so unless you’re a very light vaper you’ll probably need to refill quite often. For these reasons, we’d recommend going with the iClear 16 version over the 10S model.
Both models of the iTaste VV 3.0 are selling for just under $50 at most retailers. Considering that this price includes five atomizers, the price seems very reasonable, and the iTaste VV would certainly be an excellent choice for those just starting out with vaping, or those who want a small, portable device, particularly if their needs for battery life are fairly light or they don’t mind being tethered to a charging cable.
Our latest acquisition from the Philippines is the Grand Vapor Private V2, makers of the Sentinel, which we reviewed pretty favorably back in May.
Like the Sentinel, the Private V2 is a mechanical mod with a bottom-mounted button, and it shares a lot in common with the Sentinel, from a telescoping body capable of fitting batteries from an 18350 up to an 18650, to the angular styling of the top and bottom caps. In many ways, it resembles a Sentinel turned inside-out, with a large, easy to grip midsection flanked by thinner upper and lower tubes.
Styling is also somewhat simpler on the Grand Vapor Private V2 then the Sentinel. Whereas the Sentinel is something of a mishmash of knurling, ribs and other textures, the Private V2 has a more smooth, refined look, with subdued ribbing in the center tubes and a lightly brushed finish on the outer tubes. However, while the look is clean, it manages to not look plain. There are plenty of angles to reflect light, and the use of multiple materials — stainless steel on the center and end caps, brass for the top and bottom tubes, and a bit of copper at the bottom, add accents that make the Private V2 eye-catching, without looking busy. Many who aren’t fans of the Sentinel’s eclectic styling may want to take another look at Grand Vapor with the Private II.
Functionally, the Grand Vapor Private 2 has a lot of the features we appreciated from our Sentinel, including a bottom button with adjustable throw, a floating center pin at the top, and copper contacts — which, in the Private V2, are silver-plated.
Our mod is extremely well-constructed. Threading is exceptionally smooth and squeak-free, and the use of stainless steel at the caps provides a degree of durability. While many are leery of aluminum caps like those used on the Sentinel, where the use of soft metal can sometimes lead to threading issues, the stainless used in the Private 2 may make the mod somewhat heavier, but it is much less prone to such problems.
We did have one issue which may be worth noting: Our 18xxx batteries fit pretty tightly in the Private V2, with no rattle whatsoever. However, this tight fit has also led to one issue we haven’t really run into before: if a battery’s insulation layer doesn’t completely cover the sides of the battery, it can cause the mod to fire without pressing the button. This hasn’t been a problem with new batteries, but we have seen it with some older ones — particularly batteries like our older gray Panasonics where some of the insulation has worn away at the negative end. With some of our batteries, the edges on the bottom of the battery would rub against the side of the mod, and the atomizer would fire. Just something to watch out for.
As we’ve almost started taking for granted with Grand Vapor’s mods, it performed excellently in our load testing. On average, the Private V2 retained over 96% of battery voltage under load, or a voltage drop of about .15 volts from a battery charged to 4.2 volts. It should also probably be noted that few mods we’ve tested have performed as consistently as the Grand Vapor Private V2: while some mods show a large amount of voltage fluctuation between firings, the Private V2 displayed almost none, with each use showing the same voltage as the last, only changing as battery voltage decreased. Looking back at previous test results, few mods have been as consistent as our Private V2, and very few have performed better.
We got our Private V2 for $148.50 via a Facebook-based group buy. While that’s a good-sized chunk of change, it’s a lot less than we’ve seen it going from some American retailers, where we’ve seen people pay prices as high as $380. The Private V2 was a limited run (we’ve heard only 600 would be made), so it may be difficult to find at the price we paid, but if you can get it, we’d say go for it.
The Bagga is a brass mod from top to bottom. The body and contacts are all solid brass, though we had the option of a gold-plated center pin, which we used in our test runs. This gives it an exceptional level of conductivity — the Bagga, in fact, has shown to have less voltage drop in our load tests than any mod we’ve tested so far, and it’s less by quite a respectable margin.
The brass doesn’t just add connectivity; it also really makes the Bagga stand out in a crowd. Ours arrived with a shiny mirror polish, though we don’t expect that to last long, given brass’s tendency to tarnish quickly. We look forward to seeing how the Bagga looks once it’s had some time to build up a little patina. The tubes are engraved with Wu Tang’s logo, a serial number, and “Philippine Pride,” written in the ancient baybayin script used in the Philippine islands since possibly as far back as the 13th century.
[Editor’s Note: At least we think that’s baybayin. If any of our readers would like to confirm that, or let us know we got it wrong, feel free.]
It comes with two tubes: one for an 18650 battery, and a second tube for use with an 18350. While we were somewhat disappointed that there is no 18500 tube available, Wu Tang has stated that there will be one for his next mod, which he has said will be named “El Capitan.”
The Bagga has a bottom-mounted button that is quite similar in appearance to the style of button used on the newer iHybrid models. The cutouts around the button, however, are more decorative than functional, as they’re really too small to fit a finger through. However, the cutouts do allow the Bagga to stand on end without the button being pressed, which we find a lot more practical than the locking ring used on many other mods: it’s definitely nice not to have to keep locking and unlocking the button just to be able to put the mod down.
The Bagga was extremely well-received by the members of our group buy, who almost universally praised it for its workmanship and performance, though there were some complaints that the black etching on the mod rubs off too easily.
Few mods have the sort of following, or the level of hype, of the iHybrid. The limited editions of the Genesis hybrid, which are released every couple of months or so, fetch high prices on the second-hand market — prices so high that many have complained that the supplies are kept low to artificially inflate the price of used iHybrids. Perhaps to counter these claims, Faceless of iHybrid Mods recently introduces the Pure: a low-cost, widely available version of the iHybrid intended for the mass market. Built continuously, rather than in small batches like the limited editions, and sporting a reasonable $99 price tag, the iHybrid Pure is intended to be an iHybrid that can be obtained by anyone, not just a lucky handful with either a lot of money, good timing or inside connections.
The iHybrid Pure is an aluminum hybrid mod, currently available in a black anodized version, though stainless steel and titanium versions are planned as well. Built for an 18490/18500 battery, it’s a relatively small mod, measuring about 123mm in length, and 22mm in width. It’s not quite as small as some other aluminum hybrids like, for example, the Vapor Craze Noble 1, but the 18500 form factor allows the use of a Kick or Crown with an 18350, if desired, which may make the Pure more attractive to those who prefer a regulated vape to a mechanical one.
We had some issues getting the iHybrid Pure ready to test. The cap fits very snugly on the two O-rings that hold it in place: so snugly, in fact, that we had a hell of a time getting the cap off. It took at least a couple of hours of twisting, pulling and swearing before we finally got ours open, an effort made even more painful by sharp edges on the window cut into the tank cover. If you have the same sort of issues we did, we highly recommend using very thick gloves, or risk some really nasty gashes in your hands before you’re done. In addition to a little bleeding, our Pure also suffered some fairly deep scratches when we started to get frustrated and attempted to jimmy it open with a small screwdriver.
Eventually we got the cap off, and we’re hoping now that we’ve lubed up those O-rings a bit, that it won’t be a problem in the future. Under the hood is a fairly typical deck for a Genesis hybrid, though the inclusion of a screw next to a second hole could allow the use of dual wicks, if one were willing to forego a fill hole. The wick holes are around 1mm, sufficiently generous for a decent-sized mesh wick. The screws are all Phillips-slotted, with the positive screw being sufficiently large that finding a screwdriver to work with it should be very easy, though a smaller one will be needed for the negative screws on the deck.
We had a few issues with hotspots when setting up the iHybrid Pure, though that’s just as likely to be the luck of the draw as anything related to the Pure. We wrestled a bit with hot spots at both the top and bottom of the coil, but that sort of thing is to be expected from almost any Genesis.
Voltage drop on the iHybrid Pure was, as expected for a hybrid, quite low — though even for a hybrid, the Pure performed remarkably well. While the inability to attach atomizers meant we were unable to perform the exact same tests we would on a conventional mod, voltage drop in our more limited load testing was extremely low: less than 3% of battery voltage, or about .12 volts from a battery charged to 4.2 volts. Frankly, we were pleasantly surprised. As owners of the now-discontinued but much more expensive iHybrid Standard, we find the Pure outperforms it by a fairly wide margin.
The Pure’s dual-spring, bottom-mounted button will be familiar to those who have previously used a recently made iHybrid. It is responsive and fired reliably, and a screw on the inside of the switch allows a small amount of throw adjustment. While the Pure has no locking ring, the button is inset into the base, but cut-outs in the ring surrounding the button make it relatively easy to press the button without having to hold the hand in an awkward position.
We’ll come right out and say it: we never liked our iHybrid Standard. The finish was wildly inconsistent, and the performance, while good, was nothing to write home about. The Pure has changed our minds a little about iHybrid Mods: it’s a clean, well-built little mod, with some of the best performance we’ve seen from any mod to date. With its sub-$100 price tag, the Pure should be a no-brainer for anyone who’s ever wanted to find out for themselves what all the iHybrid hype was about.
Super-T Manufacturing seems to be known primarily for two things: building great mods, and consistently missing estimated ship dates. Fortunately for Super-T, if you keep doing the first, people are willing to overlook the second.
We put in an order for an Precise ELA, Super-T’s first telescoping mod, back in early January. At the time, as now, the estimated ship date was six to eight weeks. A few days shy of June, today’s vape mail finally included our ELA. The reasons for the delay were many and varied, but on the bright side, those of us waiting for our ELA’s had a shorter wait than for Super-T’s previous project, the Shockwave. That one took about a year between the time pre-orders started and when they shipped.
So, why do people keep coming back to Super-T? That’s a good question. As the Precise ELA was our first of their mods, we were a bit curious why people would be willing to wait up to a year from one of Super-T’s mods. On paper, the ELA sounded great: corrosion-resistant gold and rhodium-plated brass contacts, a quick-release telescoping function that made changing batteries easy and fast, and of course, everyone we talked to who owned a Super-T mod raved about how well-built it was.
We have to admit, when we opened up the box containing our Precise ELA, the first impression was definitely good. We had ordered ours in a satin finish with brass accents, and everything you may have heard about the finish of super-T’s mods is true, if our ELA is any indication. The satin finish is just gorgeous. It’s very similar to that of our satin silver Provari, actually, with one major difference: this is not a painted finish, and won’t chip or wear down over time like that of the Provari. Even better, the finish, along with the rest of the ELA, is covered by a lifetime warranty.
Telescoping the mod to fit a range of batteries — from an 18350 all the way up to an 18650 with a Kick or Crown, with an optional extensional tube, is about as easy as it gets. While other mods may make you spin tubes for what feels like forever, the Precise ELA uses what Super-T calls a “positive locking mechanism.” A quarter-turn of a locking ring at one end of the bottom tube unlocks the telescoping section. Once unlocked, the telescoping tube can be adjusted to whatever length you want, and the ring turned again to lock it down. It is much faster, and ultimately easier on the finish of the center tube, than any other telescoping mod we’ve reviewed so far. It literally takes a second or two to release the telescoping tube, and maybe another second or two to lock it into its new position, and once locked in, there’s no need to crank it down extra-tight to get good battery contact and eliminate tube wobble, like on many other telescoping mods.
ELA switch unlocked (left) and locked (right)
Another thing that’s easier to do on the Precise ELA than on other mods is to lock the bottom-mounted button. Like with other Super-T mods, there’s no locking ring to extend — something that, on other mods, seems to lead to the bottom cap falling off about as often as it leads to locking the button. On the Precise ELA, locking the button is as simple as sliding a small tab in the center of the button. One little click, and the button will no longer fire when the mod is placed on end. However, one little thing about the button that should be mentioned: when placed on end, the Precise ELA rests only on that button; the bottom of the mod is somewhat tapered. While we’ve had no problem resting the mod on end, the surface area touching the table is quite small, and it’s not going to take much to knock the ELA over. As we’ve seen one person describe it, the ELA stands about as stable as a drunken frat boy. While it seems a simple enough matter to just lie it down, that’s not going to be a very viable option if the ELA is used with a Genesis atomizer that will leak if it doesn’t remain upright.
The center pin is adjustable, utilizing a rather easy-to-use screw-type adjustment. There’s quite a bit of adjustability in the pin, and we’ve had no trouble getting mods to sit flush with the top of the Precise ELA. The adjusting screw on the bottom of the cap is very generously-sized and easy to hand tighten for good contact with the atomizer’s center pin. The threading of the top cap is of the standard 510 variety. While there is no eGo threading, it’s not likely this will be an issue for many, as we suspect not many people buy a mechanical mod like the ELA intending to use something like a Kanger T3 on it. The standard 510 top cap handles things like Genesis atomizers very well, and ours is very smoothly threaded. Our Precise ELA also came with a second top cap with adjustable draw for use with atomizers and cartomizers that feed air through the bottom. This cap is relatively easy to install, though we did have to peek at the videos on Super-T’s website to make sure we were doing it right the first time. Once installed, a simple twist of this top cap adjusts airflow for a tighter or looser draw.
Precise ELA in 18500 mode
At $189.99 from Super-T Manufacturing, the Precise ELA is firmly in high-end mod territory. However, unlike many other builders of high-end mods, Super-T does most of the manufacturing in-house on their own machines, with a goal of cranking out ELA’s as needed to meet demand. While they’re obviously still ramping up the process, the Precise ELA is not going to be one of those super-rare mods that sells for insane prices on the second-hand market, as the wait to get one directly from Super-T should always be relatively short. This alone takes a bit of the sting out of the price tag, as it should eliminate much of the after-market price gouging that happens with other similarly-priced mods.
Performance of the mod on our tests was exceptional. The brass contacts, plated with gold, and then again with corrosion-free rhodium, allow the mod to retain a great amount of voltage under load. In our tests, the Precise ELA averaged around 95% voltage retention, or about a .2 volt drop on a battery charge to 4.2 volts. While this is quite good, the rhodium plating should ensure that, if we were to test it again a year from now, it would score roughly the same, which is not the case for mods with pure brass or other contacts which oxidize very quickly.
So, was the Precise ELA worth the six-month wait, and the wallet-draining price? We’d say yes, definitely. It is an extremely well-built mod, with looks, performance and a warranty to match. Having spent some time with our ELA, I think we finally understand now why people are willing to cut Super-T a little slack when they miss a shipping deadline. If slipping the date a few months leads to a mod that’s built as well as the Precise ELA, it’s definitely worth waiting for it.
Quite a few very good mods have come out of the Philippines in the last year, and as the year rolls swiftly to a close, we’ve got our hands on the Kaleido, the first mod from newcomer Standout Vapes.
The Standout Vapes Kaleido is a modular mechanical mod that can accommodate battery sizes from an 18350 up to an 18650, crafted from a two-toned combination of polished brass and stainless steel.
Designed and built in the Philippines, the Kaleido looks something like a cross between the Astro mod by Kato and the Metal Madness Vapors Poldiac. Mechanically, it resembles the former a bit more than the latter: like the Astro, the Kaleido is a bottom-firing mod; the brass disk which looks like a side-firing button is a purely decorative addition, though the intricate engraving does an excellent job of hiding the vent hole drilled into its center. A serial number is engraved into the button along with the “Standout Vapes” name: the unit we tested had serial number 084.
The Standout Vapes Kaleido feels quite substantial in the hand, in large part because there’s a lot of metal there, particularly in the top part of the mod where the stainless steel sleeve on the outside of the mod encloses a brass sleeve on the inside. This give the mod a weighty, solid feel, which combined with the excellent finish and construction of the mod really make the Kaleido look and feel like a top-quality device. Threading of the tubes, caps and reverse-threaded brass locking ring is also about as smooth as we’ve seen on any mod we’ve reviewed.
The combination of brass tubes with the Kaleido’s adjustable copper contact pins add up to a mod with a very high degree of conductivity, and the Standout Vapes Kaleido performed exceptionally well in our load tests. Performance was very consistent between firings, and the mod exhibited very little voltage drop. Voltage retention exceeded 97%, or a voltage drop of roughly .12 volts from a battery charged to 4.2 volts, placing the Kaleido at the very top of our performance scale for mechanical mods.
The Standout Vapes Kaleido’s button has quite a bit of stiffness to it; while it does have a locking ring, we’ve haven’t felt a need to use it. The amount of pushback from the spring is more than strong enough to prevent the mod from firing when placed on end. While this makes the button quite stiff, it’s also got a short enough throw that the mod is still fairly easy to fire, but some may want to replace the spring with one that makes the button a bit easier to press.
Overall, we’re very impressed with the Standout Vapes Kaleido. The build quality of the mod is top-notch, particularly for a debut from a new manufacturer. The looks of the mod are striking, and the performance is some of the best we’ve seen in a mechanical mod. At a suggested retail price of 4,700 Philippine Pesos (about US$107), the mod is also very reasonably priced compared to other high-end mods. Considering the impressive construction of the Kaleido, and the mod’s excellent performance, we can’t recommend the Kaleido highly enough. Standout Vapes has set the bar very high for their freshman offering, and we look forward to seeing what these modders in store for the future.
We’ve had the Poldiac on our “must have” list for some time, based purely on the glowing reports we’d heard of its performance. However, not only is it a rather expensive mod, with prices starting at €150.00 (that’s about USD$195 at today’s exchange rates), but it’s sold in small batches at erratic intervals. When we saw the “Full Satin Edition” stainless steel model go on sale at Greek-based Metal Madness Vapors a short time ago, we decided to go for it.
The wait was agonizing, but extremely short for an overseas order. We placed the order on March 25th, and there was a very short delay due to one of the parts we’d ordered being out of stock, a problem quickly solved via email shortly after the purchase. Our Poldiac was marked shipped on the 29th, and was handed off by the UPS guy on April 1st. Having grown accustomed to waiting a week or more for anything from another continent, receiving the Poldiac two days after it left Greece was a very pleasant surprise.
It may seem like a small thing, but we have to mention that the packing for our Poldiac and assorted other parts was the best we’ve seen from any vendor. Each tube, and the Poldiac itself, came surrounded by pressboard with grooves cut in it to hold the tubes inside, like a block of wood with a cylinder cut through it. The box could have been bumped, dropped, punted and probably thrown off a small building without any damage to anything inside it. We’re pretty careful with our mods here, but our Poldiac will probably never again be as protected as it was inside that shipping box.
Playing Dress-Up with the Poldiac
Poldiac with AC9 Genesis Atomizer
You may note from our photo that our Poldiac isn’t all satin-finished stainless steel like we mentioned at the beginning of the review. The Poldiac is very modular, and it’s very simple to change its appearance. While we’re still using the stainless satin “shirt” (the sleeve that goes around the head of the mod, with a hole cut in it for the button), body tube, and caps, we’ve replaced the stainless “pants” (a tube which slides down onto the body) with a satin-finished brass one, because we’re masochists and can’t help loving brass even though it will mean a lifetime of polishing to keep it looking shiny. All of these various parts, from the head and body to the shirt and pants, can be swapped out for different looks, and to accommodate various battery sizes. Some of them aren’t even necessary for the mod to function — it’ll work just fine without the shirt and pants, for example, if you happen to have nudist tendencies. It will, of course, look a little strange naked, but admit it, most of us do.
The Poldiac has a side-mounted magnetic button with a relatively short throw that’s very comfortable to use, and has reliably fired for us every time. Even without a spring, the button has a good amount of pushback to it, and having it flush with the head makes it difficult to accidentally press it. Even so, the shirt can be rotated to lock the button in place and prevent accidental firing, if desired. It’s also possible to configure the Poldiac so that the button is mounted at the bottom.
The silver-plated center pin is widely and easily adjustable, making it simple to allow atomizers to sit flush with the mod, using just a twist of a screw. One potential gripe here, though: the head of the Poldiac is completely flat, with no air grooves cut into it. While this gives it a very clean, uniform look when used with something like a Genesis-style atomizer, it could prove problematic for anything that needs to pull air in through the bottom. If this becomes enough of an issue, we may see the release of a different top cap style in the future, but an upside of the modularity of the Poldiac is that the addition of a new cap would be as simple as screwing off the old one and replacing it with a new one.
A downside to the modularity: The Poldiac is a complex beast. The first thing we did when we got ours was to take it apart to see how it ticked, and then we had to hit Google up for advice on how to put it all back together. There are a lot of parts involved, and while they all fit together very well, it’s not always obvious which parts go where, particularly a few minutes after the box has been opened. Piecing together our Poldiac was a lot like trying to build an Ikea desk without the instructions. It was possible, but there was a little frustration involved, and a few choice curse words. If you’re the type to disassemble new mods, we recommend paying attention while you’re doing it to save yourself some grief.