SMY 60w TC Mini Review

This is my review of the SMY 60w TC Mini hereafter referred to as simply the Mini.

I picked this up at a local Brick and Morter shop, Liberty Vapors for a great price. They are exceptional and always go out of their way to take care of customers, which is why they are my goto brick and mortar shop.

The Mini has a beautiful colorful screen and relatively easy menu system that really sets it apart from most other mods out there. The size is quite nice, slightly wider, taller and deeper than the IPV D2, and much more of a box shape with nicely bevelled edges that make it a pleasure to hold (unlike the Sigelei 75w). Like many mods, it comes in Black and Stainless. I prefer the stainless for this mod, I think it looks better, but all they had in the shop was the black … so I took it. The black matte finish looks really nice, but I’m not sure how well it will hold up. The back panel has a carbon fiber look and comes in three colors, Black, Red, and Blue. Mine came in blue and I’m really not a fan.

Initial Impressions: The Mini does not “feel” like a high quality mod. Despite the fact that the display is gorgeous, and there is a standard micro USB port on the bottom, there are quite a few issues that make it feel like a mass produced device with minimal quality control. SMY needs to pay attention to detail and this mod could be a much cleaner build. The blue carbon fiber sticker on the battery cover is crooked, and since the company logo is printed on it in silver, it really stands out that the applique was not properly aligned when cut. The sticker is slick and glossy, giving it a very fake appearance of carbon fiber. A textured sticker would have gone a long way here and added a high quality, tactile feel to it.

The screen is stunning! Compared to most mods, this screen is just huge and really stands out. In fair lighting you can see everything in full color, it is awesome, although in bright sunlight, it is a touch difficult to see and the colors tend to get washed out. I wish it had a brightness adjustment though, it is a little too bright at night, and not quite bright enough in full daylight. I do like that you can set the date and time and see them on the main screen.

The menu system is unique and simple to use. In fact, one of the options in the menu will bring up 6 pages of “help” topics on the different menu settings. This is a really nice feature for new vapers, however, it is lost on me. They might as well have just given you a pocket reference card to stick in your wallet. The simplicity of the menu is also one of it’s biggest downfalls (more on this later), but it seems to work okay. The layout could definitely be improved though. It takes 3 clicks of the fire button to access the menus. If you are used to mods with 5 clicks, then this one will really piss you off until you get used to it. If you click the fire button on the Mini 5 times, the first 3 clicks will access the menu system, the fourth click will access the shutdown menu, and the fifth click will initiate a total shutdown of the mod. I am still trying to get used to it, and several times a day find myself accidentally turning off the mod. Thankfully it powers up fairly quickly, but it is still annoying that the shutdown option is the FIRST thing on the list when you access the settings.

Operations: The Mini chipset is very simple, there are not a lot of options for people that really like to customize their vaping experience, but there are enough to make most people happy. Clicking the fire button 3 times takes you into the menu mode. Some settings have selections accessed via the +/- buttons, while others take immediate effect. Now lets talk about the menu options. for the settings, there are 4 selectable “icons” across the bottom of the screen and I will touch on them in left to right order:

  1. Power (Power switch icon)
  2. Device Lock (Padlock icon)
  3. System Settings (Gear icon)
  4. Help (Question mark icon)

Power: Does exactly what you expect. Unfortunately, given it’s default location, does it more frequently than you would expect too!

Device Lock: Again, does exactly what you would expect. There is a shortcut though, depress +/- buttons simultaneously and it will achieve the same effect, lock/unlock the device.

System Settings:

  1. Work Mode: This switches between power and temperature control (F/C) settings. Power is traditional variable wattage control for non temperature coils (Kanthal) ant TF/TC are the 2 different settings for temperature controlled coils (Ni200). There does not seem to be a dedicated Ti mode, so I suspect this was only designed for Nickel and not Titanium. A huge problem here is that when in TF/TC mode, you can adjust the temperature, but NOT the wattage as well. There is no opportunity here to set a higher wattage than necessary to get up to temperature quickly, like you can with most mods.
  2. Time Setting: This is where you adjust the automatic cutoff time for your “puff”, the time the display stays on, and the automatic shut off (power down) time for the Mini.
  3. Vapor Mode: Manual or Automatic. Manual is the traditional style, push the button as long as you are firing the device, release it when finished. Automatic mode is a little foreign to me, push and release the fire button and the mod fires by itself until you push and release the button a second time.
  4. Date and Time: Self explanatory, shows up on the display and is actually a lot more useful than I originally gave credit for!
  5. Puffs Info: This mode counts every press of the fire button (when not in rapid succession) as a “puff”. The overall count is displayed on the main display and here in the menu. As a nice touch for a mostly useless feature, they also give you the total cumulative time of all puffs, and an easy way to reset the statistics.
  6. Stealth Mode: Puts the mod into stealth mode and takes it out of it. Unlike some other mods, this is a TRUE stealth mode, there is no sign of life when vaping in this mode. There is not so much as a hint of flicker like many mods have. Adjusting up/down will bring up the display for visibility, but will dim immediately once the +/- buttons are no longer being used.
  7. Exit: Exits the menu system and returns you to vaping mode.

Question Mark: Brings up the 6 pages of information and help using the device. I really think this is unnecessary, but if you need it, its there.

Fit and finish: I touched on this a bit in my initial impressions above, so I will try to go a little more in depth here. The mini feels pretty solid with some exceptions.

The first huge exception is the battery door. When I first put in a battery, the door rocked back and forth, corner to corner. I thought it was rocking on the curve of the battery, but in fact, upon closer inspection, it was misshapen. I had to remove the battery door and try and straighten it out just to get it to fit properly. The  door is held on by magnets, but not very tightly like the Sigelei 75w doors. I suspect that these are cheap magnets that will wear over time and need to be replaced.

My next concern is with the finish itself. The matte black color is awesome, but it doesn’t feel like it will hold up well. 18 hours in, and there are already wear marks on the bottom, just from picking it up and putting it down on a flat table. As I mentioned above, the carbon fiber look is just cheap. It has a holographic style to it and is slick and slippery feeling plastic that really feels out of place with the fairly solid feeling metal of the mod’s body. As if that were not enough, mine was die cut poorly and is off kilter. The edges line up perfectly with the door, it was just cut wrong so that once applied it looks crooked. If you have a little OCD, it’s enough to drive you crazy, and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

The buttons are chromed, and look good on the Stainless version, but they should be black on the black version as the chrome looks out of place. With an atty mounted on it, nothing else on the mod that you can see is chrome. The do feel okay, and give nice positive feedback when pushed, but they are loud and click like a cheap button. The fire button on mine seems to be slightly off, if you don’t push it from the proper angle, it will “feel and sound” like it clicked, but not actually do anything. Thankfully all the buttons seem to be well mounted, there is no button rattle when you shake the mod. We will see how they hold up over time.

The 510 connector sticks up ever so slightly, leaving a gap between the tank and the top of the mod. I don’t know if this was an intentional design decision or if it’s just my mod, but the tank should sit flush with the body of the mod. The connector is also the only other thing on the mod that is chrome, and it has a spring loaded center pin that seems to work with all of my tanks and attys so far.

Overall Impression: The quality of the Mini just doesn’t feel like it is very well built. For the money ~$70 it isn’t horrible, but I think there are better options available like the IPV D2 and possibly the Joyetech VTC Mini (will let you know soon, once I get mine). I am very underwhelmed by the little things that COULD make this an exceptional mod. The poor design choices in the menu layout, the off kilter, holographic carbon fiber sticker, the chrome buttons, etc. all tell a story of the little mod that might have been great. If SMY took the time to quality control the product, and pay attention to these little details, I would probably have a much different opinion of it. It seems to do well on a single battery, and since I rarely go above 24 watts, the top end being “only” 60 watts doesn’t affect me. I know that there are many that need more, but I’m not one of them.  The physical size isn’t too bad, slightly larger than the IPV D2, slightly smaller than the IPV Mini 2, and not too heavy. The bevelled edges of the mod actually feel good in the hand, not nearly as “sharp” feeling as the Sigelei 75w. The bottom line is this, as it is, this mod is just okay. It has a lot of things going for it, but also a lot of things going against it. If you can find it for around $50-$60, and can overlook the little details, it does seem to perform pretty well and could be a good workhorse. This is NOT the mod for everyone. The chipset provides enough  features for most vapers (including power users), but is too simple for many advanced vapers that really like to tweak their vaping experience.

Do I LOVE this mod? I have to say no. Do I LIKE it? I definitely do, but wish I had paid just a little less for it. Would I buy another? Not at the moment, but I would not rule it out. Despite my issues and complaints, it does seem to do it’s job fairly well. It’s not at the top of my list, but more importantly, it’s not at the bottom either.

 

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IPV D2 Review

This is my review of the Pioneer4You IPV D2, hereafter referred to as simply the D2.

I bought this from Ashley over at Wake and Vape, and I have to say I am truly impressed with how fast it got to the east coast from California.

As for the D2, my first impression is that this is the mod the IPV Mini 2 *should* have been!

Initial Impressions: The D2 is using the Yihi SX-130H chipset at 75 watts with temperature control up to 50 joules. It is TINY, but has a mostly (I’ll get into that later) solid feel to it. The display is bright enough to read in full sunlight *when holding the firing button*, but the standby brightness is too low for my liking. The buttons feel very nice and provide a good positive feedback when pushed. Unlike most of the newer mods, you can’t change the display for left/right handed vapers, so it is backwards for me. The other thing with the display is that it is inset to the device, meaning that it won’t be quite as subject to scratches as the Mini 2 was. The charge port is NOT a traditional micro USB port, it is a small “barrel” design, like cell phone chargers of 10 years ago. The cable is about 8″ long with a USB on one end and the barrel connector on the other. This means you have yet another cable to keep track of if you use the USB charge option. I don’t know why they deviated from the standard micro USB, but they did.

Operations: The SX-130H chipset is very simple, there are not a lot of options for people that really like to customize their vaping experience, but there are enough to make most people happy. Clicking the fire button 5 times takes you into the menu mode, where you can select from System Off, Power/Joules, Unit F/C, Temp, Coil NI/TI, and Exit . Some settings have selections accessed via the +/- buttons, while others take immediate effect. If this isn’t enough for you, then I would recommend you upgrade to a higher end mod with the DNA 200, SX-330 or SX-350. Now lets talk a little bit about each of these different settings.

System Off: This does what it says, and shuts down the D2 completely. When you enter the menu, this is the first option you see. Selecting either the + or – button will immediately execute a system shutdown, if you like turning off your mod, this is the option to choose. I do wish it was the last, and not the first option though, but that is a personal preference.

Power/Joules: This allows you to switch between wattage (Power) and temperature control (Joules) modes. I am in the temperature control camp, and have not even tried this in Power mode yet. Joules is a completely different beast to what I am used to. My other temp control mods are set by temp/wattage, not joules, so I am still playing around to find the optimum settings for me.

Temp F/C: Sets the temperature display to Fahrenheit or Celsius. I run mine in Fahrenheit. Not much more to say here.

Degrees: Sets the desired temperature. The range is 212-572 Fahrenheit or 100-300 Celsius. I tend to run mine between 440-460 F, depending on the juice.

Coil Ni/Ti: This is where you select the type of temperature controlled coil that you are using. The only options are Nickel (Ni) or Titanium (Ti). This may be a limitation as future coil materials are explored for temp control (like Stainless Steel).

Exit On: Much like System Off, this activates immediately when you select either of the +/- buttons. When selected it simply puts the D2 back into normal operating mode, ready to vape.

Fit and finish: It seems to be fairly solid and well constructed with a couple of exceptions.

The big exception for me is the battery door, it does not seem to be of high quality. Out of the box, it shifts around and feels cheap on the mod, although given the U shaped design, a little squeezing and it can be adjusted to fit perfectly. The story should end here, BUT after vaping for a day and a half, the battery door loosened up again and needed to be “readjusted”. I don’t know if this is because I change batteries several times a day, or the way I hold the device. Either way, it is a huge annoyance and speaks to the quality of the materials selected for the door. I can see this as a potential long term issue with the D2. I am going to try using the USB charge option exclusively for a week and see if that has any impact. If the door continues to loosen, then I will know it is from the way I hold the mod, not just from changing batteries.

The second big issue is the charging port/cable. I really wish this had the standard micro USB port that EVERYONE else is using. I don’t want to have to keep track of yet another proprietary cable, especially one as small as this one is. I will need to find and purchase some spare cables now, one for work, one for the car, and one for home/travel, so that I have them readily available. There is nothing worse than getting somewhere and not having the cable you need, or being able to borrow one from someone else. The D2 can be used for “Pass Through” vaping, so you can use it while charging, making the micro USB port ideal, everyone has many of these cables just lying around. It would also be nice if they had put the port on the side or the back instead of the bottom, so that you could leave the device upright while charging.

The third issue for me is the paint, the color is awesome and I really like the “matte black” over the glossy black of the IPV Mini 2. That said, it does look like it may suffer from the same problems that the Mini 2 does, easy to scratch. The paint where the battery door slides on and off was showing signs of wear when I did my first battery change, and it seems to be getting worse, although this is to be expected whenever two parts rub together. I don’t see any signs of flaking though, but if it does start it will very likely start here. Again this is an impression, only time will really tell for sure.

The fourth issue is the spring loaded 510 connector. It does it’s job and seems to do it well. Unlike the Mini 2, it is perfectly straight, so that my tanks sit completely flush on the D2. Here is where I have a minor issue with it, I do wish there was a 22mm metal base around it, so that I don’t cut “rings” into the finish with the bottom of my tanks, but again, that is a personal thing, I will just have to be careful installing tanks to keep from scratching up the top of the mod.

The buttons feel exceptional, I have no issue here. They provide good positive feedback when pushed. The buttons are solid and have a good quality feel to them. If you shake the mod, there is ZERO button rattle, which I really like. I hate listening to my buttons rattle on some of my other mods. There is absolutely no question when you depress any of the buttons that you hit actually hit the button. If you push the button and don’t get the desired effect, at least you know it isn’t the button’s fault. If I had to say anything negative about them, then they could have spaced the +/- buttons just a little farther apart (I have big fingers), but that really isn’t anything more than a nit picking annoyance.

The size of the D2 is exceptional. It is small (almost too small), and as a result fits very nicely in a pocket. I absolutely love pocket size mods, as I carry everything I own in mine (okay maybe just everything I use daily). My Vapor Flask (which I love) consumes an entire pocket, where the D2 and 2 Unicorn bottles take up just about as much space. The rounded edges of the mod fit nicely into the palm of my hand, and it is small enough that I can maintain a grip with just my thumb if need be.

Overall Impression: Despite my issues/annoyances with the D2, I really like it a LOT. At about $60 (including shipping) for the Wake and Vape kit, it is really the most cost effective mod I have gotten yet. No device (at least for me) is perfect, but this little mod has quickly become my go-to vape. I love the pocket friendly size, the feel of the buttons, and the fact that it has temperature control. The inset display will really help keep the screen from scratching, and it is inset deep enough to help shade the screen for easy viewing in bright light. Battery life so far has been exceptional with this mod, it came with a brand new Samsung 25R and I can run a full day (~10ml juice) of vaping at ~30 joules without needing to change/charge it. The kit I bought came with a carbon fiber wrap that should help with any scratches, and it really makes the D2 look SEXY! Do I love this mod? No, not yet, but it is growing on me more and more every day. If it holds up over a couple more weeks, then I will likely buy another, because it is that good for my vaping style and needs.

Like I said earlier though, this is NOT the mod for everyone. The chipset provides enough  features for most vapers (including power users), but is too simple for many advanced vapers that really like to tweak their vaping experience.

 

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IPV Mini 2 70 Watt by Pioneer 4U

Disclaimer, I bought this used, from a seller that claimed it was lightly used and nearly new.

When I received this, it was packed in the original box with the instructions and a USB charging cable. I opened the box and examined the mod, and the first thing I noticed were the tiny silver specks where the finish had chipped away in a few spots, presumably from normal usage. I took the mod out of the box and noticed a “rub” on the back and some flakes of black paint in the general vicinity of the rub. Already I am starting to lose confidence and I haven’t even put in a battery yet. A quick google search revealed that the paint is a problem, so I am either going to wrap it or strip it, haven’t decided which yet, maybe both! A closer examination revealed that the screen was covered in micro-scratches I took the battery cap off, and inserted a Samsung 25R battery, hit the button 5 times to turn it on, and we were off to the races.

Initial Impressions: It is strangely reminiscent of my ZNAs, and felt very comfortable in my hand. Side by side with the ZNA, it’s clear that the IPV Mini 2 was inspired by the ZNA style. It is slightly taller, wider, and deeper, but not so much that it was uncomfortable. Given that it holds an 18650 battery and the ZNA only holds an 18490, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the size. I had anticipated it would be a LOT larger than it actually is. It only has one display mode, it cannot be set to “right” mode or stealth mode. So if this is important to you, then look elsewhere. One feature that immediately grabbed my attention is that the mod calculates the battery voltage output for the coil as soon as you change the wattage in real time, unlike the Evolve DNA30 which only calculates the voltage as you press the fire button.

Operating it seemed a little foreign at first, after using ZNAs for so long. I managed to completely screw up all the presets within 5 minutes. Once I actually figured out what I was doing, the presets grew on me. One thing that stands out is the display, mine (being used) is covered in micro scratches which make it very hard to see the screen in certain lighting conditions. The troubling part of all the scratches on the screen is indicative of an inherent problem with the quality of the plastic used to make the screen cover. It is very low quality, and obviously not very hard or scratch resistant. The black smoke plastic is nice from a “stealth” perspective, and add to the overall look, but really is pretty bad from a usability standpoint. between the micro scratches and black plastic, I am NOT a fan. I think a lighter “smoke” color would have done well, and still worked much better. The other problem with the display is that it does not have a “left” or “right” operating mode. Unfortunately for me, what this means is, since I cannot change the display orientation, the display is actually upside down with regards to the way I hold the mod. Every other regulated mod that I use can be oriented to the way I hold and use the device, I’m not sure why they did not include this in the feature set.

Fit and finish: It seems to be fairly solid and well constructed with the exception of the paint job. The gloss black paint, as mentioned earlier, is highly problematic. In addition to the flaking problem, mine (after only 2 days use) has developed a flat colored “rub” where my thumb sits while holding it. This is not a scrape or flaking problem, it appears more like the paint is just wearing through from normal use. Overall though, The IPV Mini 2 has clean lines and rounded edges, no sharp corners to cut into your skin. It’s not as heavy as my ZNAs, but it does have a weighty feel to it. The 510 connector on mine works perfectly, but is ever so slightly crooked (another common problem), but you really have to look to see it. I do have a small gripe about the buttons, but it is a personal thing, not a problem. These are very soft buttons, so soft in fact that I have fired it by accident a couple of times because I can’t always tell when they are depressed. I know some folks like soft buttons, but I prefer mine to give me at least a little feedback that I have pushed it. The battery threads are okay, but thin, it almost wants to cross thread itself when installing the battery cap. The battery cap does the job, but it just feels cheap and tacky compared to the rest of the mod. The fact that it’s chromed doesn’t help either. It’s a thin chrome plating that appears to scratch easily. I hope it holds up over time.

Overall Impression: Even with the cheap quality of some of the components, especially the horrible paint and finish problem (I highly recommend putting a wrap on it right away to protect it), this looks like a good value for the money, a mod that will go to 70 watts at a sub $100 price (new around $70 or less) is awesome, provided it lasts more than a couple months. Despite the inability to adjust the display orientation, I do actually like and use this mod a lot. The real question is will it hold up over time? I walked into a local vape shop tonight, and there must have been  a dozen people all with this mod. Every single one of the black ones had paint chipping or flaking off, but all of them were working, and everyone I asked loved theirs. A couple of them had really canted 510 connections, but the owners were happy enough with performance for the cost of the mod.

Ultimately, this is not mod for folks that want nice looking, collectible vapes. It is, however the right mod for anyone that just wants a powerful and capable device for low price. Given the huge bang for the buck with the IPV Mini 2, it is an exceptional value if you can live with it’s flaws and it withstands the test of time.

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ComCig ZNA 30 Clone

I have been looking for a 1:1 copy of my House of Hybrids ZNA 30 since I got it. I absolutely love the HoH ZNA, but it is a premium product and I want a clone to use out and away from home so that I don’t risk losing or damaging my pricey ZNA. I have been scouring the net and reading every review I can find, and finally I settled on purchasing the Robbot Technology ZNA clone. This is where things got a little confusing. For starters, there are multiple reviews that claim the ComCig ZNA is from Robbot Tech, and Zen himself (from HoH) states in his blog that they will be servicing the ComCig ZNA. Add the 2 together, and you get the conclusion that the Robbot Tech ZNA is sold through ComCig AND is a 1:1 clone. However, THIS IS NOT COMPLETELY RIGHT! ComCig used no less than three different companies as their own branded ZNA.

Since cost is an issue, I was looking for the best pricing possible, and I found the ComCig ZNA, bundled with the Link RDA (Z2 threaded to match the HoH Zenesis line) on the Steam Monkey website. At the listed price I could afford to buy 2 of these for the cost of 1 authentic HoH ZNA, so I did. Lance (the owner) of Steam Monkey LLC is phenomenal. He answered all of my emails promptly and shipped out the product almost as soon as I ordered it. I can’t speak highly enough of him, and as this review progresses you will understand why.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

  1. Fully Z2 compatible threading
  2. Solid, like my authentic HoH ZNA (feels identical in my hand, shape and weight)
  3. Felt nice, solid steel
  4. Good button feel, “Clickey” positive reinforcement in buttons
  5. Smooth lines (mostly)
  6. Nice looking (SS tube, top/bottom caps; Brushed finish main body matches Russians)

DETAILED REVIEW:

After receiving the package from Steam Monkey, I opened the first ZNA box and started testing it out. What I discovered is that the ComCig ZNA is in fact Z2 threaded (as expected), but it is NOT a 1:1 clone, in fact not even a high quality device. The Z2 threaded 510 adapter has very poorly machined 510 threads. The first tank I tried to install was an authentic Russian 3.1, and the threads only went in about halfway. I did not want to force it as I did not wish to damage my tank. When I tried to remove it, I discovered that it was “stuck”, so I took the entire adapter off the top of the ZNA. It was at this point that I realized the Z2 threads were also poorly machined, and are essentially razor sharp, as I sliced open my hand trying to un-thread my Russian. Along the way I discovered that the 510 positive pin and insulator in the adapter are very cheap, the pin is not adjustable, and in fact is only pushed in finger tight, using the insulator as a pressure fitting, as it is not threaded, nor does it take much pressure to install or remove it (it even slipped out of it’s own accord a couple times).  Finally, I removed the Russian and installed a Kayfun 3.1 clone, which threaded just fine.

Within an hour of using it I started to discover some issues with it. These issues are in no particular order, simply presented as is. The first problem I encountered is the left adjust button, the one that is supposed to be used for adjusting the variable wattage downwards. It does work to adjust the wattage, however not quite as expected. The button sticks, and once depressed it goes all the way down to the minimal setting of 7 watts. While this is bad, it is not nearly as bad as the fact that it ALSO doubles as a Firing button. Wow, the ZNA SHOULD NOT fire while adjusting the voltage downwards. When the settings are “locked” the left button still behaves as if it is depressed, and because the settings are locked, it displays the following message “Power Locked Hold Up Down”, and simultaneously keeps the device from entering sleep mode, and therefore drastically uses battery power. Conversely, the Firing button also acts as a wattage downwards adjustment button, e.g. left adjuster button. If you hold the ZNA at the right angle, while vaping you can actually see the variable wattage setting change and drop lower and lower until it reaches the minimum wattage (7 watts). Finally, setting it down hard, or bumping it against something, causes it to reset (power off and then back on again). While this is not much more than a minor annoyance, a stiffer spring might prevent this.

At this point I am starting to get concerned, but after all the GREAT Robbot Tech ZNA reviews, I’m still not too worried about it. With all the good reviews, I was thinking that the problems were just an isolated issue (e.g. a bad device), I decided to try the 2nd ZNA clone. Believing that things could only get better was the wrong way to look at it. Initially the 2nd one seemed to be a much better version. The fit and finish seemed as good as the first, no new observations in this department. The buttons had a nice positive click to them, everything seemed pretty good. However, as I used it, I started to experience more and more problems with it. Ultimately, in the end, it was actually even worse than the 1st clone as it turned out to be completely UNSAFE to vape with.

After I started testing this 2nd clone, the 1st problem I noticed with it was that the Fire button also triggered the downward adjustment of the variable wattage, while vaping. It was not nearly as severe as the first version, so I could potentially live with it as is. The 2nd issue I found was that the downward adjustment also caused the device to sporadically fire while adjusting it. Again, not nearly as bad as with the 1st clone. I then realized the 510 adapter was not screwed all the way down, so I tightened it, which in turn caused the unit to short electrically, and the screen went blank. Thankfully this was only a temporary short, as soon as I loosened the top cap back up, it started working again. Much like the first unit, bumping or jarring it caused it to reset, and the 510 threads were inconsistently machined. None of these issues seemed to be show stoppers though, so I thought if I handled it somewhat gingerly, I could at least use it. As I continued to use it though, it started behaving very strangely. The screen started randomly flickering, disappearing, and then coming back on, which I thought might be a battery issue, so I changed the battery for a freshly charged BRAND NEW one. This fixed the problem for about the first 10-15 minutes of vaping, then it returned. The next thing I noticed was that the wattage was adjusted to 16.6 watts which is in my normal range, but not what I thought I had set, so I adjusted it down to my normal 14.4 watts. I vaped a couple more times, and the screen flashed and the wattage went back to 16.6 watts. I adjusted it back down to 14.4 watts, then locked the settings at 14.4 watts. I proceeded to vape a couple times and it reset itself to 16.6 watts, with the settings still LOCKED! Then it displayed the message “Too Hot” and shut itself off. At this point the solid steel body felt quite warm, so I removed the battery and let it sit. After about an hour, I put the battery back in, vaped a couple times, and then watched it go through the Too Hot dance again. The more I tried to use it, the more frequent that message appeared.

Some additional points I noticed with both of them are that the wattage setting drops by .1 watt periodically (just like my original Hana clone) even when the settings are locked. Sometimes the built in ohm meter appears to be accurate, and sometimes it seems to be off +/- .1 to .3 watts, and when vaping it even occasionally CHANGES as the firing button is depressed. Most of my tanks don’t mount flush, and since there is no adjustable center pin, it can’t be changed/fixed.

Ultimately, these problems and issues led me to contact Robbot Tech on their FaceBook page. I also decided to send Lance an email and describe the problems I was having to him. Since Robbot Tech is in China, I decided that posting on their FB page and waiting to see if I got any response might be the best way to reach them. While awaiting a response from Robbot, I drafted an email to Lance at Steam Monkey, and pointed out all the problems I was having and asked him if this was normal (in his experience) with these clones. He did say that he had a few customer complaints, but they usually developed over time, not over the course of less than 24 hours. He asked if he could send me a couple of “personally tested and working” ZNA clone replacements. I told him that was fine, I just wanted 2 that worked. The next afternoon I got an email from Lance that he had personally tested 2 ZNA clones and was sending them to me. I have not yet received them, but I am waiting to see if they hold up any better than these first 2 did. In the meantime, I have spent a couple of evenings researching these clones even further, and have discovered that these are in fact the 1st version Robbotech produced, and as such, they have a LOT of problems. While HoH will support this version, Robbotech will not. This depressed me quite a bit as I am now out a LOT of money on these clones, and they aren’t usable. The only saving grace is that the Link RDAs are AWESOME (a separate review will follow for these RDAs), so it is not a complete loss.

I will follow up later with any further information after I get the tested replacements from Steam Monkey.

SYNOPSIS:

ZNA Clone #1 Issues – TOTALLY UNUSABLE:

1. Left adjust button sticks and always drops to 7w, unless settings are locked.
2. Left adjust button also randomly triggers fire button.
3. When settings are locked, downward adjustment sticks and keeps unit from entering sleep mode, sometimes causing non-stop firing.
4. Fire button also triggers left adjustment while vaping.
5. Bumping the unit causes a recycle/reset. This I believe may just be a spring related issue with the battery

ZNA Clone #2 Issues – TOTALLY UNSAFE:
1. 510 topcap sometimes causes a short and the unit reads too hot, or the screen goes completely blank.
2. 510 connector threads not right, some tanks won’t screw in and others will, with both authentics and clones.
3. Fire button also triggers downward adjustment while vaping, only occasionally, and does not stick like unit 1.
4. Screen randomly blinks and resets while vaping regardless of battery charge status, full or not.
5. Bumping the unit causes a recycle/reset. This I believe may just be a spring related issue with the battery caps.
6. It is currently “stuck” at 16.6w, but the settings are not locked. I can adjust it up or down, but as soon as I try to use it, it jumps back to 16.6w.
7. It has also started flashing repeatedly and sometimes giving the error “too hot” even after it has been sitting for a long time. It seems to have a short circuit.

ZNA Clone Issues – COMMON TO BOTH

1. The wattage setting drops .1 watts randomly, even when the settings are “locked”.
2. Sometimes the built in ohm meters read accurately, sometimes they don’t.
3. Coil readings fluctuate between .1 and .3 watt variances, sometimes up, and sometimes down, there is no consistency.
4. The firing pin in the 510 connector in both units is in a cheap plastic insulator and sometimes slips out with no effort when you take the top cap off the ZNA.
5. The 510 threads are not even and some devices only screw in part way and no further, but others screw in all the way.
6. The center pin is not adjustable.
On my authentic ZNA, none of these things happens, and the positive pin is mo

BOTTOM LINE:

If you want to save a few bucks over the cost of a HoH ZNA Lite (which is aluminum, not steel, and will scratch/damage easily), you can buy this ComCig ZNA from Steam Monkey, it comes with the Link RDA, and then you send it to HoH for upgrading. $99 for an authentic Evolv DNA chip, $15  for the adjustable center pin, and you are done, everything else is already Z2 compatible. Grand total for the entire setup and upgrades will run you $255 (or less). So for $25 less than just the HoH ZNA Lite, you will get the ComCig ZNA, the Link RDA, the Evolv DNA  upgrade, and the adjustable center pin. Otherwise, unless you really just want the Link RDA from the Steam Monkey package, DON’T BUY THIS CLONE!!!

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Link RDA by Steam Monkey LLC

The Link RDA is an absolutely gorgeous piece of craftsmanship that rivals the quality of authentic House of Hybrids equipment. I recently purchased some ZNA clone packages that were bundled with the Link RDA and an extra 2 hole topcap for use with dual coil builds (or just for better airflow). While the clones are craptastic (my clone review should be out in a couple of days), the Link RDAs are exactly the opposite. It is a crying shame that Steam Monkey LLC is getting out of the Z2 market, because these little beauties are gems. I built out the Link with a 28ga, 4/5 wrap, around a loop of 2mm Ekowool (but it can also be built with cotton), which meters at exactly 1 ohm using the ZNA built in ohmmeter. This thing vapes like a beast and it works like a charm. Flavor is outstanding (I prefer the flavor from Ekowool over cotton).

It is Z2 threaded, and connected flawlessly to every HoH tube and device that I own. It looks beautiful on top of the ZNA clone, it’s a crying shame that the clone doesn’t actually work. It looks almost as good on my authentic HoH ZNA LDE, however it is a shiny silver that doesn’t work quite as well with the rose gold and gunmetal color scheme of the LDE. I am trying to find one of the newer gunmetal colored HoH topcaps, in the hopes that it will fit on the Link RDA and then it will look a lot better on the ZNA LDE.

If you want one of these things, then contact Steam Monkey right now, they are being closed out and will never return. The owner of Steam Monkey LLC told me that the costs to produce quality Z2 threaded gear is cost prohibitive and that is why he is getting out of making stuff for the Z2 standard. Steam Monkey LLC is being reconstructed around the newer and cheaper commodity devices, and the current stock of Z2 stuff is currently on closeout to make room for the new inventory. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

As a final note, the only way to get the Link RDA from Steam Monkey is to purchase the ZNA clone package. Just be aware that you may end up with a dead or defective ZNA clone, but on the other hand, the whole package is selling now at the same price the Link was selling for a couple months ago. The package would have been a steal if the clones worked, but as it is, the value of the Link RDA makes it worth it in the end.

 

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Cloupor T5 Review

DISCLAIMER:  Cloupor sent me the T5 for review purposes. While this will not sway my opinion of it, I will be as unbiased as possible in this review, but I wanted to ensure everyone was aware of the circumstances of this review.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, lets get down to business. I have been using this mod for about 2 weeks to get a feel for it and compare it against my other mods fairly. For the purposes of this review I added the T5 to my daily carry of mods, my House of Hybrids ZNA30, and my Cloupor Cana Modz Hana Clone. Each of these has a Russian/Kayfun 3.1 on it, dedicated to a single juice flavor. The builds are all 1w using double strand twisted 30 guage kanthal and an ekowool figure 8 wick. All 3 mods are set at 15.4w which is the sweet spot for my 3 favorite juices (Vape Dojo’s Blueberry Vanilla Tobacco, Black Menthol, and Ruby Red Grapefruit).

For starters, the T5 is HUGE. It is too large and too heavy to comfortably carry in a pocket. It’s made of a single piece of billet aluminum (as far as I can tell anyway), which should be light, but it is almost as heavy as my ZNA which is made of solid steel! The finish was pretty nice at first, but has proven easy to damage, it is not very scratch resistant. Cloupor states they designed this mod from the ground up, including the 50w chip. As I have found no evidence to the contrary I would have to agree that they did. It does however function like most 30w mods, 5 click on/off (actually off though, not standby like a DNA30), 2 buttons for adjusting up and down, a button combo to put it in stealth mode, all in all, not much different functionally than what people are used to.

The built in ohmmeter appears to be spot on with my DNA30 mod, and my Cana Modz clone is only off by .1 (which is consistent with my expectations). The temperature sensor displays in Celsius, and can’t be changed, which (to me) is obnoxious. The reality is that it is only tied to overheating protection so it doesn’t really matter, but it would be nice to have it in Fahrenheit. I hope I never find out if it actually works. 😀 The buttons are plastic, but seem to be quite functional. They do feel kind of nice compared to the buttons on the Cana Modz (small, metal, dig into your fingers), and are easy to push, although stiff enough to not self adjust if you bump them.

The charger port is a standard micro USB port, however, the design is not the best, as it is inset in the base of the mod. The problem is that because of this design, you cannot use a standard micro USB cable, it is not long enough to actually connect, meaning that you MUST use the proprietary (cheap) cable provided by Cloupor. The other issue here is that since it is in the base, you MUST lay it down to charge it, you can’t just plug it in and leave it standing on a counter. If the cable breaks, then you either need to contact Cloupor for a replacement cable, or modify a standard micro USB cable by shaving away at the plastic until it is thin enough to fit in the opening on the mod, you need about 1/8-1/4 of an inch to make this work (depending on the length you have to start with). The charging subsystem is also not the best, I have only once gotten the charge to 99%, most of the time it is at 96% or 97%, and if you leave it on the charger too long, it will actually drop instead of rise, I left it on the charger for about 18 hours and it went down to 87% when I took it off the charger … something is amiss here. A final nail in the coffin on the charging subsystem is that you CANNOT use it as a pass thru device, it will NOT work at all while it is plugged in (I suspect that is a safety feature, but not positive).

Battery life could be MUCH better. I suspect that whatever the problem is with the charging system, it also plagues the battery life. I have identical brand new eFest batteries in both the T5 and the Cana Modz, and the T5 does not come close to lasting anywhere near as long as the Cana. In fact, it is more comparable to the 18490 in my ZNA, which is not a good thing. I did charge it up to 97%, then let it sit, unplugged and turned off, for 24 hours. When I turned it on, it was at 73%. I would have expected, if it were truly off, that it would still be in the 96%-97% range, instead it was fully 24% lower, that is a drop of 1% per hour that it just sat. Since then I have kept a close eye on it just to ensure that there are no signs of it shorting itself out. While I have not seen signs of a short, it has randomly turned itself off while I was vaping. I have not figured out why it does this, but it is mostly infrequent, so we will see how this holds up in long term usage.

The T5 has an adjustable center pin, so that most every standard 510 atomizer will work on it. It has a pretty substantial adjustment range, and all of my Russians, Kayfuns, and drippers worked just fine once the center pin was properly adjusted. The real problem here is that it takes a small Philips head screwdriver to adjust it, and the screw is so loose that it self adjusts itself out of alignment frequently, so you need to carry a screwdriver around to readjust it when it stops working (check atomizer message). The screwdriver they provide is cheap and does not have a hole to put it on a keyring, so I recommend finding one that does, that way you will always have one with you.

Pros (in no particular order):

  1. 50 Watts!
  2. Designed from the ground up
  3. Standard 18650 Battery
  4. Turns OFF (not just a standby lock)
  5. Powers on quickly
  6. Adjustable Center Pin
  7. Solid construction
  8. Large display, lots of useful info
  9. Temperature sensor
  10. Micro USB charger
  11. Buttons, nice feel (although plastic)
  12. Settings lock
  13. Firmware upgradeable (great if they ever release more firmware)
  14. MSRP sub $80 US

Cons (in no particular order):

  1. Size/weight, it’s huge, not pocket friendly! Kayfun on top looks TINY.
  2. Randomly shuts off
  3. Adjustable center pin adjusts itself downward, needs frequent adjusting.
  4. Display too dim, hard to see in most lighting
  5. Resistance/Voltage line on display too small
  6. Puff counter (can’t reset it, too large)
  7. Temperature sensor only Celsius
  8. Micro USB charger is proprietary length. Port is too far inset into base, MUST use cheap cable that is shipped with mod (or carefully modify a standard cable to fit).
  9. NO PASS THRU Vaping
  10. Charging subsystem Voltage leak. Will not charge to 100% best so far is 99% normal overnight charge usually 96%. When fully charged and turned off, will discharge ~24% in 24 hours by itself.
  11. Micro USB port on bottom, not on side, must lay it down to charge, cannot stand upright with cable attached. Don’t try this with a full Genesis atty on it!
  12. Finish mars easily

Bottom Line: If you are on a budget, need a 50w mod, and can find it for the $80 MSRP or lower, then this is the mod to get, you won’t find another one with so many good features in the price range. Otherwise, I would pass on it, mostly because for an additional $20 there are other good mods at the $100 price point that don’t have as many issues. The T5, despite it’s shortcomings, performs admirably with regards to actual usage. It will go as high as 50w (which is pretty much overkill for me) if you need it. It is very large and heavy so it doesn’t fit into pockets very well, something to consider if you carry your gear in your pockets like I do. There are some, in my opinion, design shortcomings, but other than the battery life, nothing that can’t be overcome. I have been using it daily and it has grown on me, to the point that I will continue to use it daily.

As for the comparison with my other mods, it vapes just as well up to the 30w limit on my ZNA and Cana. If you are on a budget and don’t need 50w, then I would recommend a Cloupor Cana Modz box mod for about $70 MSRP, it performs well and I suspect it will last longer and is much easier to carry around. If money is no object, then I can’t say enough good things about the HoH ZNA30, just buy one. I am hoping someday to get the Cloupor ZNA clone so that I can do a direct comparison and see if the clone is as good as the original. If it is, then my recommendations just might change a little … In the end though, I now have 2 Cloupor mods, and they are quality products, all things considered. I will continue to watch Cloupor’s product line and likely do a few more reviews as new products become available.

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Cana Modz by Cloupor (Hana Clone)

I picked up this mod on a pre-order from Elev8vape.com. Originally I ordered it in Silver, but after discovering that I could change my color to Black and get the mod sooner, I switched colors. I will probably purchase the Silver one later, once the bugs are all worked out (yes, there are a couple of small bugs with mine, see below). Despite early concerns and bugs, if you are looking for a 30 watt capable mod, I can personally recommend the Cana Modz clone!

Pros:

This thing vapes like a champ. I have put it head to head with my ZNA from House of Hybrids (HoH), and it holds up very well. The cloned DNA30 chip does not function exactly like the Evolv DNA30-D, but it is VERY close. When the Cana Modz goes to sleep, it needs 2 button presses before you can vape with it, 1 to wake it up, then 1 to fire it. This takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it works really well. Other than this, all button features work exactly like my ZNA, and has all the features of the Evolv DNA30-D chip.

This is a 1:1 clone of the Hana 30 watt mod, and while I have never owned a Hana, I understand that this is cleaner and does not suffer the issues that the Hana does. Many people complain that the $240 Hana is not well quality controlled and can suffer from crooked 510 connectors and displays. The display and the 510 connector on my mod are perfectly straight and seem very well built.

The buttons are firm and hard to accidentally push, unlike my ZNA. With the ZNA I have to be careful because the buttons can “auto-adjust” my wattage up/down when I forget to lock it and then put it in my pocket. The Cana buttons are both recessed and stiff enough to resist accidental changes by other objects in my pockets.

On board USB port for charging and pass through functions. While I have heard people say that you should not use this in pass through mode, it is not written anywhere in the instructions. I have not had any problems with the USB port, it charges well, and works well for pass through vaping, my ZNA can’t even do that!

Cons:

Periodically self adjusts downwards by .1 watts, even when the settings are “locked”. For example, if I set it for 14.8 watts, then lock the settings, it will eventually (at some random interval) adjust itself to 14.7. The most I have seen it self adjust over the course of about 5 days is .3 watts, then it held steady.

Sleep mode is not consistent. Sometimes it will go to sleep while I am actually vaping on it, in between hits. Other times, I can set it down for the night, pick it back up in the morning and it is not “asleep”. The requirement for 2 “fire button” presses to vape, after it goes to sleep, can get annoying, but hopefully a firmware fix can address that.

The buttons are small and firm to depress. While this is a good thing for the up/down buttons, it is not such a good thing for the firing button. The real problem is that when vaping for extended periods, the small firing button digs into my finger and it becomes quite uncomfortable (this is a subjective point). Not all people will find this to be problematic like I do.

Overall:

I highly recommend this mod! This is an excellent value for the money. There are a few inconsistencies with it, but the price point and features make it well worth putting up with the minor concerns. The simple fact is that I can own 3 of these for the price of 1 Hana, that makes quite a substantial savings in the long run that can be spent on more mods, juice, or other supplies.

UPDATE:

I had a big problem with this mod shortly after writing the review above. My mod (which had been working perfectly) started smoking from the USB port. Of note, I was NOT using it in pass through mode (I only do that when I forget to charge my batteries).

I immediately contacted Elev8vape AND Cloupor directly about this issue. Elev8vape asked me to send it back to them and they would replace it with a new unit. Surprisingly, I also heard back from Cloupor, stating that they would make sure it was taken care of. I responded back to Cloupor with my other concerns, and they were very responsive to my observations. Fanny with Cloupor did tell me that the self adjusting .1 watt issue was a result of “noise” or “interference”, and would be fixed in a future version with a noise filter. She also told me that some of my other concerns had already been fixed in a firmware update (2 button press issue specifically). The other fix was to add epoxy to the unit to keep the chip from loosening up and shorting out (which is what happened to mine).

Fanny and I have exchanged email several times over the last few weeks, and I am very impressed with the responsiveness of the Cloupor staff.

 

 

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