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EFOS E1 Review

EFOS E1

A few weeks ago we looked at the iBuddy i1, a new Heat not Burn device from China that uses the same Heets as Philip Morris’s iQOS. At the time I thought this was a sensible decision for iBuddy, as it saved them having to develop and distribute their own stick design. I also didn’t think PMI would mind too much; they might miss out on a few iQOS sales, but everyone who buys an iBuddy will need to get Heets for it, and PMI are the only people who sell them.

More recently I was sent another Chinese device that’s also designed to work with Heets; this is the EFOS E1, and I’ve spent the last week running several packs of Heets through it. How did it compare to the iBuddy and iQOS? That’s what I wanted to find out – and now I know.

 

Unboxing

The EFOS is, as I’ve come to expect, nicely packaged. The box has an outer sleeve, and once that’s been slid off the top flap hinges open to reveal the device sitting in the usual moulded plastic tray. That lifts out to reveal an instruction manual and, under it, another tray containing a USB cable and a cloth carrying bag for the device. It’s all nicely presented and gives the feel of a quality product.

The quality of the device itself isn’t bad either. The body is plastic, lozenge-shaped and fits nicely in the hand. On each long edge is a black plastic insert; one has four LEDs to show the charge status, and the other is helpfully printed with some basic information about the E1, including its battery capacity – 2,000mAh, in case you’re interested.

At the top you’ll find the only controls – a large button with an illuminated surround, and a sliding cover that can be pushed up to reveal the heating chamber. The heating chamber is interesting; instead of the iQOS’s blade, or the spike of the iBuddy, this is simply a metal chamber with perforated walls and base. It’s also set at an angle. When a Heet is inserted it’s sticking up about 30 degrees off the vertical, which looks a little surprising at first.

Overall the EFOS feels well put together for the $60 price. It is mostly plastic, but it seems robust enough and I didn’t manage to break anything while getting through four packs of Heets. The supplied accessories are good quality too, but it’s a pity no cleaning equipment was supplied – to keep it running properly, it’s probably a good idea to clean the heating chamber at least once in every pack of Heets.

 

Trying it out

My EFOS arrived with the battery about half charged, so the first thing I did was plug it in and top it up. This took a pleasantly short amount of time – just over an hour passed before all four LEDs were glowing steadily. Once that was done I opened a pack of Heets, loaded one into the chamber and then, after some initial embarrassment, flicked through the instruction leaflet to figure out how it works.

The other HnB devices I’ve tried so far are switched on by holding the button until it buzzes or flashes at you. The EFOS is slightly different; it takes three rapid presses to activate it. Once you’ve done that it will buzz and vibrate slightly, and the green LED surround of the button begins flashing. Then all you have to do is wait for it to heat up.

Waiting is never my favourite pastime, and I have to admit I was getting a little impatient by the time 30 seconds had passed. It vibrated again not long after that, though, and I took that as a signal that it was ready to use (which it was). So I took a puff, and it was a bit of a surprise.

Firstly I should say that the angled heating chamber is a great idea; it puts the Heet’s filter in a very natural position to vape. Next, the first puff I took was the best I’ve had from any HnB device I’ve tried so far. It was almost exactly like smoking a cigarette, with plenty of warm, well-flavoured vapour. It continued well for about the next eight or nine puffs, and then both flavour and vapour started to fall off sharply. The device will let you take up to 20 puffs from each Heet, vibrating again to warn you after the 18th; if you’re puffing slowly it will vibrate after five and a half minutes, and shut down in just under six. Personally, I think it would be better to limit it to ten or twelve puffs; 20 is just too much for a Heet.

This is just a minor issue, though. A bigger problem might be that the EFOS itself is too much for a Heet. When I took the first one out the chamber and looked at the end I was startled at how black the filling was. On closer examination this didn’t extend all the way up through the rolled tobacco sheet, but the tip of it – where it’s in contact with the heated base of the chamber – was pretty charred. I got a definite impression that the EFOS was great at the “Heat” part, but falling down slightly on the “not Burn” bit.

Some more flicking through the instruction manual revealed that it actually has two temperature modes, and I was running it in the (recommended) high temperature one. I changed to low temperature for a few Heets, by holding the button for three seconds while I waited for it to heat up, but found that performance fell off quite a lot. I did get more puffs from each Heet, but they much less satisfying.

 

Conclusion

The EFOS E1 is a very interesting device, and on high temperature mode it gives a great tobacco vape. Battery life is reasonable but not great; you’ll probably need to top it up after about ten Heets, and unlike iQOS it doesn’t come with a personal charger. The iBuddy i1, despite having a smaller battery capacity (1,800mAh) kept going for much longer between charges.

My real concern with the EFOS, however, is that I have a nasty suspicion the high temperature mode is burning some of the tobacco. That would certainly explain the great flavour, but it might defeat the purpose of using it in the first place. I still doubt it’s anywhere near as harmful as a lit cigarette, but if health is your top priority you might be tempted to go for an iQOS instead.

The end of this Heet looks suspiciously blackened…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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XMAX Vital- Cheapest gateway to HnB

Xmax Vital

XMAX VITAL

One of the best and one of the cheapest.

Even though we specialize in and sell the Philip Morris iQOS we are essentially a global heat not burn resource so we will also review other heat not burn products too, so on to the review.

When you buy a loose leaf vapouriser it’s very easy to fall into the trap marked ‘PAY MORE, GET MORE’. Though you often discover the rule that scientists have known for years. It’s called the law of diminishing returns.

Explained in simple terms, let us assume that you need a wristwatch. Well, you can go to Poundland and buy a perfectly functional watch for £1.00, or you can go to Geneva and buy a Hublot Big Bang Ayrton Senna Foudroyante for £25,000.00.

The point is that both watches will tell the time. Beyond that, it’s all downhill for the Hublot. The law of diminishing returns kicks in the minute you bore the arse off everyone by demonstrating how the Hublot can calculate F1 lap times to 100th of a second.

Anyway, I digress. So let’s get back to the review of the XMAX VITAL. This is an old piece of kit, first released in 2015. I bought mine in January 2017 for 35 euros. My usual HnB kits are the IQOS and a PAX2. I didn’t get around to opening the XMAX until January this year.

The XMAX comes in a metallic grey box. When you open the box you get your first view of the vapouriser. Below that is another section of the box which contains

  • The instruction manual
  • Replacement metal mesh screens
  • O ring seals
  • A cleaning brush
  • A micro USB cable and a pair of tweezers

Like a true man, I immediately threw the instruction manual in the bin and set about fetching the thing apart. This was easy. The whole of the insides are held together with 4 Philips head screws. And here’s where it got interesting.

First thing I noticed was the battery. A standard 18650 rated at 3.7V 2600mah battery is more than enough for almost 2 hours solid vaping at full charge and at 240˚C/464˚ F. Impressive for its time.

The Second thing is the size of the ceramic bowl. 1.6cm deep and 1.1cm wide. That’s a hefty load of tobacco. The air feed is from shark gill openings on each side of the vaporiser and then fed into the bottom of the bowl. All of the electronics are in a separate compartment. I will explain why this is so important at the end of this article.

Heat is via a heating element built into the ceramic bowl. This arrangement practically rules out the possibility of electronic shorts ruining your new toy. Very clever.

To start heating, you hold down the power button for 3 seconds and the OLED screen says ‘WELCOME’. It then starts to heat the bowl to the desired temperature.

Temperature control is in Centigrade or Fahrenheit, so it’s BREXIT ready. The temperature is simply selected, after you switch on the power, using the + or - button. The range of temperatures is from 100˚ C to 240˚C which is 212˚ F to 464˚F. You can also increase or decrease the temperature whilst the unit is functioning. You can also choose between a 5 minute and 10 minute heat session.

Heat up time from 15˚C to 180˚ C/356˚ F with a full bowl of tobacco is about 20 seconds. The unit then happily ticks away for 5 or 10 minutes, dependent on the duration you have pre selected.

The heat spread is consistent throughout the bowl, meaning there are no cold spots. I measured a 4˚C difference at 240˚C between the bowl wall and bowl centre. Again this is most impressive. My PAX 2 is far less accurate than the XMAX and has considerable variations in bowl temperature, sometimes in excess of 7˚C.

Getting the most from your Xmax

There are 4 main factors which you need to take into account here. They are as applicable to the Xmax as to other HnB loose leaf vaporisers. So we´ll look at each in some detail.

 

1.Choice of tobacco

The PH level of tobacco smoke is a determining factor in its acute toxicity. Cigarette tobaccos all vary, but a rise above 6.2 results in increased levels of Tobacco Specific Nitrosamines, Benzene, Cadmium and all of the other nasties contained in tobacco smoke.

Bright, Flue Cured and Virginia tobaccos produce a lower PH value of between 5.2 and 6.00. However, these levels increase as the cigarette is smoked. In any case, and apart from the carcinogens present in tobacco smoke, the main culprit is carbon monoxide. Any combustion of a carbon based substance will produce carbon monoxide.

Pipe tobacco on the other hand with both high and lower sugar content is less acidic than cigarette tobacco, and becomes progressively more alkaline during the course of smoking. This reduces the quantity of ´nasties` produced In the burn process. Apart, that is, from carbon monoxide.

As every smoker knows, pipe tobaccos are simply too irritating to be inhaled when burned. This is mainly due to the high alkaline content of the smoke. It also probably explains why pipe and cigar smokers suffer lower levels of lung cancer than cigarette smokers.

HnB circumvents almost all of these issues because the tobacco isn´t burned. There is no carbon monoxide and the levels of all known carcinogens are reduced either to practically zero or a figure so low that it is insignificant. As an example PMI have published open data science which concludes that their IQOS reduces toxic and carcinogenic produce by 90% to 95% when compared with the CR34 standard test cigarette. Those figures are about the same as e cigs.

So, you load up your XMAX with some Marlboro Red or Aromatic pipe tobacco, switch on your heating chamber and start to inhale. The first two or three puffs are OK, but suddenly the quantity of vape is reduced to a whisp and the flavour disappears.

 

2. In order to use any watch you need to be able to tell the time

Your first reaction to the above scenario is to turn up the heat. The XMAX in this regard is like some early Magnox Nuclear Reactor. So you crank up the heat to 464˚ F/ 240˚C and normal service is restored. Success? No. Why? Because tobacco combusts at 451˚F/232˚C.

You have to remember that temperature is the average energy of molecules in a system. If you need to know more about this have a look at the Maxwell Boltzmann Distribution Theory. Or get a life.

On the other hand, all that you really need to know is that even at 430˚ F/ 221˚C some tobacco will start to combust and you do not want that to happen, because once combustion starts you will be inhaling all of the same carcinogens found in a regular cigarette.

So stay away from high temperatures.

 

3. This is too complicated for me….

Bring on the Propylene Glycol PG. If you you use an ecig, or HEETS you are inhaling PG. It’s safe.

Most Vape shops sell PG and 500ml is less than a fiver. PG is used in ecigs and HEETS to replicate the “throat hit” you get when you smoke a normal cigarette.

Vape grade PG is about 80%PG and 20% water. It has a boiling point of about 250˚F or 121˚C .

If you like clouds of vapour, then bring on the Vegetable Glycerin VG which has the same boiling point as PG. Most good vape shops will sell this too, for about the same price as PG.

The only drawback to to VG is that it is used as a sweetener, so I recommend using more PG than VG. If you can’t get your PG / VG from your vape shop, then go to a chemist and get the Pharma grade stuff. Just remember to dilute it with water. Distilled is best.

4. Important.

Pharma grade PG and VG have a boiling point of 290˚C/554˚F. Such heat will burn all of your tobacco, your vaporiser, your house, you and the entire neighbourhood. And in the present political climate, should you have the misfortune to survive, you can expect to spend the rest of your days at GTMO in Cuba, learning advanced Arabic. So add 20% water.

You might want to increase the nicotine yield in your HnB aerosol. If so, splash out on a bottle of 50%VG 50% nicotine solution.

Oh, finally you will need a pipette or a syringe used for refilling ink cartridges. You can carefully discard the blunt needle.

None of this stuff is expensive and you are only going to be using small quantities anyway.

The Recipe

  1. Open your 30g pouch of tobacco.
  2. Extract 30ml of PG using your pipette or syringe.
  3. Layer the PG evenly across the top of your tobacco.
  4. Extract 20ml of VG using your pipette or syringe.
  5. Layer the VG evenly across the top of your tobacco.
  6. Wait 5 minutes, then finger mix the tobacco, PG and VG together for about 2 minutes.
  7. If adding nicotine do so in 5ml stages. Wait 5mins then finger mix.
  8. Wash your hands.

The first thing you will notice is that your tobacco pouch will be bulging at the seams. You are now ready to go. Half fill your bowl with the mixture. Switch on your XMAX, set your temperature and inhale.

The quantity of aerosol is more than adequate. The flavour of the tobacco is pronounced and well satisfying. Oh, the shark gills.Yes I nearly forgot. Any crud that has fallen out of the bottom of the bowl can be cleaned out by just blowing through the shark gills.

And this is where the XMAX scores. It scores because:

  • It is cheap, really cheap.
  • Whilst it doesn’t produce the same volume of aerosol as a PAX 2, its enough.
  • There is no connection between the electronic gizzards and the airflow.
  • Any excess moisture or dribble will not touch the delicate electronics.
  • It is easy and simple to use.
  • It produces better results than loose leaf vapourisers costing 10 times more than the XMAX

 

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PAX3 – A better life through science

Pax3

PAX3 IT IS GOOD, BUT CAN YOU MAKE IT BETTER?

Los cojones del perro

When I bought my PAX3 I really didn’t know what to expect. Every review I’d read rated it as the best thing since, since……anything ever invented by man since the wheel.

I have always tried to dismissed hype. After all, advertising is just propaganda by another name. There are good advertisements and rubbish advertisements. There is great propaganda and bloody awful propaganda.

So, I eyed the contents of my PAX3 box with a great deal of scepticism. Is this really going to better than my PAX2? After all, 250 quid is a lot to spend on a vapouriser.

Ah well, in for a penny….And when I did open the box and emptied its contents over my table I was totally puzzled. I have never seen so many bits and pieces all together on one box. This is what I found.

  • The battery and heating unit.
  • Two mouthpieces (one raised and one flat).
  • A base plate (to seal the heating bowl)
  • A base plate combined with a half bowl space
  • A wax oven which fits on the base plate
  • A case
  • A magnetic charger
  • A manual

First of all I should explain that the PAX3 comes in two versions. I bought the most expensive one, and so far as I know, you don’t get all of the accessories with the base model which costs about £200.

 

RTFM

As most of my readers know, I usually throw the manual in the bin and immediately start to disassemble the kit inside the box. However, I didn’t do this on this occasion. Two reasons. First, my bin isn’t big enough to hold the manual. Secondly, the contents of the manual were written in plain and simple English. How many times have you bought something made in China and opened the manual to read something like this….

 

BENCH DRILL

OPERATE INSTRUCTION

PRODUCT INFORMATIC

It is of novel design. Small and exquisite bulk, handy carry. It adopts single phase series motor with high rotable speed. The cent of the product has no class to adjust soon with single kind soon two kinds. The operation please before the manual read……….and so on.

Well, you know how it is. So I was well pleased to be able to make sense of the manual. What´s more, you really should read the PAX3 manual, because to get the best out of a PAX3 you have to make some effort. If you are already the owner of a PAX3, then read on. If you want to read a full review then click here to read Fergus’s review. Then come back later.

 

A BETTER LIFE THROUGH SCIENCE

You have probably forgotten the difference between conduction and convection heating. There is no reason why you should have had to remember it after leaving school. But, to get the best out of your PAX 3 we are going to take you back in time. Way back. You are a 14 year old kid. Last two periods on a Friday afternoon. You are looking forward to getting home and watching the tele. Trouble is, there`s this old fart banging on about convection and conduction and you can hardly keep your eyes open.

Conduction and convection describe heat transfer. Conduction is motionless, like a hot dry iron. Convection needs liquid or gas to move the energy, like a steam iron, or a steam train.

All I´m going to say about this is that the PAX3 is a conduction vapouriser. That is to say, it heats your tobacco with radiant heat from the hot oven walls. Other Vapourisers heat your tobacco with super heated air and that is convection heating.

Both methods have their plus and minus points, but so far as we are concerned there are only 2 issues that matter.

  • Heat up time
  • Even temperature throughout the oven.

The heat up time with the PAX3 is fast for a conduction vapouriser, so that’s not a problem.

The variations in temperature inside the oven are miniscule. The PAX3 is outstanding in this regard. The older PAX2 was not so good. Temperature variations were above 5C, meaning you were forever having to stir your tobacco to get a decent vape. It also meant that there were hotspots inside the oven causing some of the tobacco to start combusting, whilst some remained “cold”. The PAX3 has sorted this out. This makes the PAX3 ideal for what follows.

 

A veces el remedio es peor que la dolencia 

However, sometimes the remedy is worse than the ailment. And in the case of the PAX3 the only problem is the size of the oven. It holds 0.3g which is not very much, and although the quantity is small it does produce a good vape, for a short while. So, how can we make it better?

If we could slow down the vapourising process, without affecting the flavour that would be perfect and it can be done. Here´s how.

PG and VG

Bring on the Propylene Glycol PG. If you you use an ecig, or HEETS you are inhaling PG. It’s safe.

Most Vape shops sell PG and 500ml is less than a fiver. PG is used in ecigs and HEETS to replicate the “throat hit” you get when you smoke a normal cigarette.

Vape grade PG is about 80%PG and 20% water. It has a boiling point of about 250˚F or 121˚C .

If you like clouds of vapour, then bring on the Vegetable Glycerin VG which has the same boiling point as PG. Most good vape shops will sell this too, for about the same price as PG.

The only drawback to to VG is that it is used as a sweetener, so I recommend using more PG than VG. If you can’t get your PG / VG from your vape shop, then go to a chemist and get the Pharma grade stuff. Just remember to dilute it with water. Distilled is best.

 

Important.

Pharma grade PG and VG have a boiling point of 290˚C/554˚F. Such heat will burn all of your tobacco, your vaporiser, your house, you and the entire neighbourhood. And in the present political climate, should you have the misfortune to survive, you can expect to spend the rest of your days at GITMO in Cuba, learning advanced Arabic. So add 20% water.

You might want to increase the nicotine yield in your HnB aerosol. If so, splash out on a bottle of 50%VG 50% nicotine solution.

Oh, finally you will need a pipette or a syringe used for refilling ink cartridges. You can carefully discard the blunt needle.

None of this stuff is expensive and you are only going to be using small quantities anyway.

The Recipe

  1. Open your 30g pouch of tobacco.
  2. Extract 30ml of PG using your pipette or syringe.
  3. Layer the PG evenly across the top of your tobacco.
  4. Extract 20ml of VG using your pipette or syringe.
  5. Layer the VG evenly across the top of your tobacco.
  6. Wait 5 minutes, then finger mix the tobacco, PG and VG together for about 2 minutes.
  7. If adding nicotine do so in 5ml stages. Wait 5mins then finger mix.
  8. Wash your hands.

The first thing you will notice is that your tobacco pouch will be bulging at the seams. You are now ready to go. Half fill your bowl with the mixture. Switch on your PAX3, set your temperature and inhale.

Let us know what you think.

 

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IQOS – The view of a vaper

iQOS logo

Back in 2015, I had the opportunity to try an early iteration of a heat-not-burn device. It wasn’t particularly good, but the technology intrigued me. Being a vaper, I wasn’t sure how I would view the product itself, but I know that vaping isn’t for everyone so having another alternative can only be a good thing, right?

Nifty box

I’m not entirely sure if PMI chose the name (IQOS) out of deference to Apple but, they did make sure that the presentation was good.

The IQOS all snug inside its box

What’s in the Box?

All the handy bits and pieces

Tucked under the product tray containing the IQOS pocket charger and the holder are the accessories. Mains adaptor for the USB charging cable, a cleaning device and a bunch of cleaning sticks. Oh, and a manual; which isn’t particularly clear on certain points which I’ll come back to.

Out of the box the pocket charger has approximately 50% charge which means you can get cracking immediately – if, like me, you’re the impatient sort.

Unfortunately, my very first try wasn’t all that successful. Partly because I’m impatient, but mostly because I was an idiot bloke that didn’t read the manual. You see I popped the HEET stick into the holder, pressed the button and waited for it to be ready. I took a few puffs and accidentally hit the button again essentially turning the device off.

This caused a minor problem as the device wouldn’t turn on again. I then didn’t take the HEET out correctly which left the plug of tobacco impaled on the heating blade. I later learned – through ‘reading’ the manual – that removal of a HEET requires the upper part of the holder to be pulled up, thereby lifting the entire HEET (tobacco plug included) off the heating blade.

The sleek IQOS holder and a HEET

The HEETS are, essentially, mini cigarettes. Unlike cigarettes, they don’t contain a lot of tobacco, which is, in fact, entirely the point. Unlike a cigarette, HEETS aren’t meant to be set on fire. The whole idea is that the special tobacco plug is heated to a specific temperature to give the user the taste and sensation of smoking, but without all the other stuff that comes from setting tobacco on fire.

IQOS in all its glory. Covered with grubby fingerprints too.

Using the device felt a little strange at first as I was inclined to try and hold it like a traditional cigarette; which you can’t. Not quite anyway.

Is it any good?

IQOS HEETS, Amber and Turquoise

I was lucky enough to be able to sample two of the HEETS ‘flavours’ – Yellow (roughly equivalent to Marlboro Light) and Turquoise (Menthol) and both tasted as I expected. The Yellow HEETS were smooth and full flavoured, while the Turquoise HEETS weren’t overpoweringly menthol (like some traditional cigarettes can be).

Both offered a warm tobacco taste which left a mild ‘just smoked’ aftertaste which wasn’t unpleasant.

During use, there is a mild tobacco scent which I found to be rather agreeable. However, I did notice a one thing missing. When smoking, there is a faintly audible cue when taking a puff, this isn’t present when using the IQOS. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is just something I noticed. After all, IQOS isn’t meant to be an exact like-for-like to smoking, it is an alternative to smoking.

Final Thoughts

A few points to make here. During use, the flavour of the HEET does diminish after half a dozen puffs (give or take), and in some cases, it did taste slightly odd towards the end of the 6 minute (or 14 puff) cycle. This sensation seemed to become more prevalent the more HEET sticks used from a single pack of 20. With a freshly cleaned (or brand new) device, the taste lasts a lot longer.

With smoking, there is a necessity to set aside time to smoke a whole cigarette. The time taken does, of course, vary between individuals. With the IQOS, there’s a set limit of 6 minutes (or 14 puffs whichever comes first). Some smokers take longer than 6 minutes; especially when smoking roll-your-own tobacco which, when left unattended in the ashtray, goes out after a while – unlike a pre-made cigarette which just burns down to the filter.

The battery life of the pocket charger is very good. I managed to get three days of continual use from mine before I had to put it on charge. Sadly, a full charge for the pocket charger takes about 90 minutes. But that is offset by the fact that a full charge can last a few days – dependant on the use pattern.

Cleaning the IQOS holder is a bit of a faff. There are two options – the cleaning brush or the cleaning solution soaked q-tip. I found that using the brush followed by a q-tip rather than one or the other, gave me a better experience post-clean. It is recommended that the holder is cleaned after 20 HEETS are used, and there is a notification LED on the pocket charger to remind you to clean it.

The IQOS does a very good job of mimicking smoking in more ways than one. The slight smell during use, the taste and the sensation all contribute to a solid experience. Some may find cleaning the holder a pain, but it is, unfortunately, necessary to maintain the experience.

A surprisingly good experience at that.

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iBuddy i1 Review – Heat not Burn UK Exclusive!

iBuddy heat not burn

Reviewing new Heat not Burn products isn’t exactly a high-pressure job. It’s not like e-cigs, where there are dozens of new devices and liquids every week. In fact there are only a handful of mainstream HnB systems right now, although the number is slowly growing as the technology becomes more popular. Still, it’s an exciting event when something new appears, so I was pleasantly surprised when an iBuddy i1 turned up in my mail last week.

The iBuddy is a stick-type device, the same concept as iQOS and Glo. Maybe more importantly, it’s also a sign that Chinese companies are taking an interest in HnB. Most of the products we’ve looked at so far are made by the tobacco industry or companies who’ve been making loose leaf vaporisers for a long time, but this one isn’t. iBuddy is a Chinese company based in Shenzhen, the province that’s home to most of the big vaping manufacturers, and so far they’ve mostly made e-cigs. Now they’ve branched out into heated tobacco products.

Earlier iBuddy products look like clones of popular e-cig models, but that’s not the case with the i1. This is an original design, and while the concept is familiar the device is totally new. It doesn’t look anything like either Glo or iQOS, although it has a lot in common with them. Because it’s an independent product it also hasn’t gone through the usual years-long evaluation and test market process that its rivals have; you can simply order one from China and it’ll turn up in the post.

The other interesting thing about this device is the tobacco sticks it uses.  iBuddy have, sensibly, decided not to develop their own sticks. That would cost money, and setting up a distribution network would cost even more. Instead they’ve designed the i1 to use PMI’s Heets, which are already available in many countries. PMI probably won’t be too upset by that, either; if someone buys an iBuddy they’re not buying an iQOS, but they will be buying Heets.

Would anyone actually buy an iBuddy instead of the PMI device, though? Good question! Let’s have a look at it.

The Review

The iBuddy is nicely presented, in a solid box with two plastic trays inside. The top one contains the device itself. This is a bit longer than an 18650 battery and fits neatly in the hand. It’s very light, and seems to be mostly plastic, but it feels fairly solid. The front and back have a rubberised anti-slip finish that gives the device more of a quality feel. It’s quite simple, too. There’s a metal button on one side, and a plastic slide at the other. A row of three small LEDs on the front show battery charge and heating status, there’s a hole at the top to take a Heet, and a micro-USB charging port at the bottom. According to iBuddy the built-in battery has a 1,800mAh capacity, and its performance suggests it certainly isn’t any lower than that.

Under the device is a comprehensive instruction booklet, and below that is another tray that contains a USB cable, cleaning brush and some alcohol-soaked cotton buds. That’s it for the package contents, but then apart from a box of Heets it’s all you need.

Plugging it in lit up all three LEDs, showing that the battery was already fully charged or close to it. I left it for a while just to top it off, then opened a fresh pack of Amber Heets and started playing.

The first difference I noticed is the way the device is loaded. With both iQOS and Glo – and apparently KT&G’s new Lil, although we haven’t been able to get our hands on one yet – the stick is loaded straight into a fixed chamber. The iBuddy has a removable holder that can be ejected by pushing up the slide on the side of the device. You don’t have to take it out to load or remove a stick, but I’ll come back to that. I found that the easiest way to load a Heet is to leave the holder in place and insert the stick. They go in easily, with just a little resistance for the last half inch.

To use the iBuddy you just have to press the button to wake it from standby, then hold it down for three seconds to start the heating process. The right-hand LED starts blinking red to show that the heater is running; when it stops blinking and glows a steady red, it’s ready to vape. It heats up quickly – I timed several sticks, and they were all ready to go in under twenty seconds.

So, with the tobacco heated, it was time to take a puff. The iBuddy might be a lightweight device, but the heating element and airflow certainly seem to be up to scratch. With Amber Heets it delivered a satisfying amount of vapour; I would say it’s competitive with iQOS and Glo. The heater is controlled by a puff sensor that allows 16 puffs on a Heet, then shuts down; the LEDs blink as a warning that you have a few seconds left to snatch a last puff. Once the heater switches off the iBuddy will quickly go back into standby.

It was at this point that I found out why the iBuddy has a removable Heet holder. When I’d finished the first stick I just pulled it straight out, which works fine with similar devices. A while later I tried to load a new Heet, and it wouldn’t go in. This was a puzzle, but then I happened to notice something odd about the first one. Imagine my surprise when I realised I was holding a filter and empty paper tube. The contents were still in the holder; once I’d ejected it I was able to get the tobacco out by blowing through the hole at the bottom.

Examining the roll of tobacco, and then shining a light into the hole in the device, soon gave an explanation. The iQOS heats the tobacco with a blade that pierces the end of the roll; the iBuddy has a spike. It’s a fairly substantial spike, which probably helps the performance, but it also gets a good grip on the tobacco and doesn’t really want to let go. If you just grab a used Heet by the filter and pull it out, more often than not the tobacco will stay on the spike. Ejecting the holder helps, but it’s not infallible – the tobacco still stays in the holder at least once every five or six sticks. This isn’t a massive issue, but it is a bit annoying – especially when you blow a roll out of the holder and it disintegrates, spraying strands of tobacco all over your keyboard.

Despite this problem I was able to give the iBuddy an extensive trial, using it for several days – including one day when I didn’t use anything else – and it does the job. The vapour is satisfying, and battery life is good – better than iQOS, and similar to Glo. After using a full pack of twenty Heets on a single charge, one of the three LEDs was still lit, showing more than 25% charge remaining; I’d say that, unless you’re a very heavy user, you should be able to get a full day’s vaping out of a full battery.

The Verdict

Given the choice, would I personally take the iBuddy over an iQOS? No, probably not. That’s mainly down to the bother of having to clear tobacco out of it every few sticks. It does get irritating, and for me the superior battery life doesn’t quite compensate for that. It also feels a lot less robust overall; it’s so light that I’m pretty sure the whole body is made of plastic, and it just doesn’t have the solidity of its competitors. It’s by no means a bad device though, and it does have another advantage – price.

Officially the iBuddy i1 sells for $69.99, but you can find it online for $45.99 – a bit under £35. An iQOS is going to cost around twice that. If you’re on a tight budget, or want to try Heat not Burn without investing in an iQOS just yet, the iBuddy could be what you’re looking for.

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PAX 3 Review – Does it match the hype?

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the next device we looked at on Heat not Burn UK would be the PAX 3 from Pax Labs. That’s sparked some excitement from just about everyone I know who’s ever used a loose-leaf vaporiser to inhale anything, which didn’t really come as a surprise. After all, if there’s a device that every other vaporiser on the market ends up being measured against, the PAX 3 is it.

This gadget is the follow-on to the already legendary PAX 2, and it follows the same basic principles. There are some significant upgrades, though, including improved battery life and better software. It also adds the ability to use wax concentrates, but that isn’t something we’ll be looking at – our only interest in the device is how good it is for vaping tobacco.

Last month we reviewed the Vapour 2 Pro Series 7, which works on the same principle as the PAX 3; it has an internal chamber that you can load up with tobacco, and when you power it up the contents of the chamber get heated enough to release a vapour that you can inhale. It doesn’t get heated enough to actually burn the tobacco, so you avoid all the tar, carbon monoxide and other assorted cag that cigarettes create.

Although the basic principle is the same as the Series 7, the PAX 3 has a few major differences in how it’s laid out. In fact, while the Series 7 turned out to be pretty impressive after I figured out how to use it, the PAX feels like it’s in a whole different class. The question is, did its performance measure up? Let’s find out.

The Review

I think I mentioned in one of my videos that HnB products tend to come in really nice boxes. Well, the PAX 3 takes that to a whole new level. This is the nicest box I’ve seen for any kind of vaporiser. In fact it’s probably the nicest box I’ve ever seen for anything that didn’t come from a jeweller’s shop and cost a month’s wages.

The usual cardboard sleeve slides off to reveal a box that opens like a book, revealing two fold-out covers. One has a discreet Pax logo in the middle; the other side says, equally discreetly, “Accessories”. The two halves of the box don’t flap about, by the way. They stay respectably closed, although there aren’t any visible magnets. I investigated with a magnetic field detector (I have some odd stuff) and, sure enough, there are two small but powerful magnets actually embedded in the sides of the box.

Desperate to get to the good stuff, I opened the flap with the Pax logo and there was the vaporiser, sitting all alone in a little cut-out. It’s much simpler than the Vapour 2 Pro, bordering on minimalist; the body is a single piece of anodised aluminium, polished to a glassy finish, with a rubber top cap and plastic base. It’s slightly chunkier than the PAX 2 but still very compact and slim. There are no visible controls; on the front there’s just a Pax logo illuminated by four LEDs; on the back you’ll find two brass contacts, the device name and serial number.

It turns out the only control is under the rubber top cap, which also serves as a mouthpiece; to turn it on you just press down on the centre of the cap until the Pax logo lights up. Holding the button for two seconds opens the temperature select mode. There are four temperature options; press the button to cycle through them, and the petals on the logo light up one by one to show how hot it will get.

The plastic bottom cap covers the heating chamber; just press one side of it and it pops out. The chamber itself looks slightly smaller than the Vapour 2 Pro’s, and there’s a replaceable metal screen at the bottom to keep tobacco out of the device’s innards.

The PAX 3 is beautifully made; there’s no other words for it. The finish is perfect (although a bit of a fingerprint magnet) and everything fits together immaculately. It’s also very light – lighter than the Vapour 2 Pro or any e-cig I own – but feels strong and solid. A definite ten out of ten for workmanship.

Anyway, as I took the vaporiser out, I noticed that the card around it was loose. Removing that, I found it concealed two more items – the charger and USB cable. The charger is a simple cradle that you lay the device on, and magnets will line the contacts up correctly. It’s very simple to use, and should also be well sealed and robust.

The other side of the box has lots of stuff in it, and some of it’s not too obvious at first. There’s a card on top, giving instructions on how to register the device and download the Pax app (do both). Then, underneath, is an assortment of bits and pieces. A white pad conceals the tiny instruction manual, which you should definitely read. There’s a key ring, which turns out to be a simple multitool; its rubber body is for tamping leaves into the heating chamber, and the inlaid metal strip with the Pax logo is a cleaning tool. A box marked “Maintenance kit” holds some pipe cleaners and a brush.

Next, there’s another mouthpiece and two bases. The standard mouthpiece is flat, with a slot at one side for the vapour. The spare one is raised, if you prefer that shape. There’s also a base with an inner chamber for wax concentrates, which we won’t bother with, and a second dry herb one with an insert to let you half-fill the chamber. That might be important for certain herbs, but it isn’t with tobacco – the chamber isn’t huge. So we won’t bother with that one either. Finally, you get three spare screens for the heating chamber and an extra O-ring for the concentrate chamber.

The next step was to charge the battery, which was easy and only took a couple of hours. The charger really is easy to use, and the Pax logo shows how the battery’s doing. The four “petals” of the logo will pulse white and progressively light up as the charge rises, and glow solidly when it hits 100%.

So, back to how it works. As you might have guessed, the heating chamber and mouthpiece are at opposite ends on the PAX 3. To load the chamber you remove the bottom cap, load your tobacco and put the cap back on. A narrow tube runs through the body and opens into a small chamber just under the mouthpiece. This arrangement lets the vapour cool down before you inhale it; apparently this helps when you’re vaping herbs, but I’m not sure it’s so necessary with tobacco.

Right, on to the test! I loaded the chamber with tobacco from a fresh pouch, taking care not to pack it too tightly, then activated the PAX 3. This is easy; just press the button – don’t hold; just press. Instantly the LEDs in the logo flash white, then turn purple – when they’re purple that means the PAX is heating up. And it heats up fast. Even with the temperature set to maximum the logo turned from purple to green in less than 25 seconds, and that was it ready to go. All that was left was to start vaping it.

This is where things get a bit mixed. Here’s the good news: With the temperature set at maximum, the vapour from the PAX 3 is the best I’ve found from any Heat not Burn device so far. There’s plenty of it and the taste is great. After one puff I was extremely impressed. After the second I was pretty much ecstatic. Then it started to go downhill.

The third puff gave almost no vapour at all, and the next couple were the same. There was still a faint taste, but it wasn’t very satisfying. At this point I put the device down and let it sit for a moment to build up vapour, then tried again. By doing that I got a couple more reasonable puffs out of it, but then it dried up for good.

Unlike the Vapour 2 Pro the PAX 3 doesn’t automatically cut off after a set time; you have to switch it off using the button (it will turn off if it’s left untouched for three minutes). So I turned it off, let it cool down, emptied the chamber (the cleaning tool works very well) and had a poke at the tobacco. It was bone dry, so my guess is that it stopped producing vapour because there was nothing left to evaporate.

What I think is happening is that the PAX 3 is a victim of its own success. The design of the heating chamber is obviously great. It’s very efficient, probably because of its shape – it’s quite long and narrow, so the contents heat up very quickly and evenly. That means the first couple of puffs are great. The problem is, the first couple of puffs basically contain all the moisture in the tobacco. I also tried it on a lower temperature setting, but this radically dropped the quality of the first puffs and didn’t really extend the session by much; you might get five puffs instead of two, but they were nowhere near as good.

If you’re trying to replicate the experience of smoking this is a bit of a drawback. You can expect to get about ten good puffs from a cigarette, but you’re going to have to reload the PAX 3 four or five times to match that.

Conclusion

From everything I’ve heard about the PAX 3, it’s unrivalled as a device for vaping substances of a more herbal nature – but, for tobacco, it doesn’t have the same edge. It’s a beautifully made device with good battery life (it packs in 3,500mAh, compared to the PAX 2’s 3,000mAh), and it’s simple to use, but if you’re mainly interested in tobacco I don’t think it’s the best option. If you really want a loose-leaf tobacco vaporiser the Vapour 2 is at least as good and a lot cheaper; if convenience and performance are what matters most, go for an iQOS.

Video Review

 

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Review – Vapour 2 Pro Series 7

So far, when it comes to reviewing Heat not Burn products, our focus has been on iQOS and Glo. There are many reasons for that, including the fact that they’re gaining popularity very fast and they’re likely to be the HnB devices you see in every corner shop a couple of years from now. The main reason, however, is simple – we reviewed them because we could get our hands on them.

There are other options though, and some of them have been around for quite a long time. Probably the oldest class of HnB devices is tobacco vaporisers. These are also known as loose leaf or dry herb vaporisers, because they’re most often used with dry herbs. Hmm, what kind of herbs? Oregano? Parsley? Probably not, so we won’t go into that here. However, they do work with tobacco, using the same principles as any other HnB product – they apply heat to tobacco, to create a vapour infused with nicotine and flavour compounds while avoiding the toxic carbon monoxide and tar.

The gold standard in loose leaf vaporisers for the last couple of years has been the PAX 2. As well as being extremely popular among the herb fraternity, this also has a reputation for working well with loose leaf tobacco. The problem is that it’s very expensive – in the UK it usually sells for just under £200. That left us wondering if there were any more affordable options. After some searching we came up with the Vapour 2 Pro Series 7. This is still a high-end vapouriser, but at around £120 it’s significantly cheaper than the PAX 2. It’s also an interesting gadget for a few other reasons, so we were quite keen to have a look at it. Here’s what we think.

The review

The Series 7 and accessories

The Series 7 comes in a nice sturdy box with an outer sleeve. Inside, the top tray holds the vaporiser itself; underneath is another tray that contains a replacement atomiser, charging cable, cleaning kit and spare foil disks, and a clear, easy to use instruction leaflet. Although it was packaged separately, and not in the actual box, a Vapour 2-branded UK plug USB adapter came with it.

Before looking at the device in more detail, let’s look at that replacement atomiser. The Series 7 will take three different atomisers, two of which are supplied with it. One is a loose leaf model, and the other is an e-cigarette tank. The third is for wax concentrates, but you have to buy that one separately.

The actual device is a slim gadget a bit over four inches long, with a flattened oval cross-section. It’s pretty simple; there’s a single button on the front, with an LED surround and three more LEDs below it. Another LED ring is sandwiched between the alloy body and the chromed base. On the base itself is the charging port. Apart from that there are two air slots on the sides, and four grooves running the length of the body that improve the grip. The whole thing is surprisingly light, but feels solid and well put together. The button seems to be chromed plastic but the base is steel.

Most of the device is taken up by the battery, and all the action happens at the top. This end of it is simply an open chamber with electrical contacts at the bottom; all you have to do is drop the atomiser you want into this chamber, and a magnet on its base will lock it in. Each atomiser is topped by a black plastic mouthpiece; both mouthpieces we got look the same on the outside, but they’re not interchangeable.

Atomisers drop in here

As this is an HnB site, we’re mostly going to look at the loose leaf atomiser. I did try the e-cig one, though, and it worked pretty well. It wicks a bit slowly to keep up with high-VG liquids, and it’s never going to be a cloud beast, but with a PG-heavy juice this would be ideal to slip in your pocket when you go out. It never seems to leak and the 2ml tank is enough to keep you going for a few hours.

Trying it out

Anyway, back to the loose leaf atomiser. This is a simple enough gadget. If you twist the mouthpiece anti-clockwise it comes off, revealing a cylindrical heating chamber with a perforated foil disk at the bottom – this seems to be there to stop bits of tobacco getting into the air channel that runs through the base. All you need to do then is load the chamber with tobacco, making sure not to fill it above the white ceramic ring near the top. Don’t pack it too tightly, either; otherwise you won’t get any airflow. Then just put the mouthpiece back on and you’re ready to go.

The device can obviously tell which atomiser is fitted, because it switches into different modes depending on what’s sitting on top. The e-cig is a simple push-to-fire system, but the loose leaf mode is different. Press and hold the button for a few seconds until the LED ring around the base lights up red; then just wait for it to warm up. After about 20 seconds the ring will turn amber; in another ten it goes green, and you’re ready to start puffing. It will stay at running temperature for 90 seconds, then automatically shut down; the LED ring will start flashing five seconds before the power goes off.

This is where it gets complicated. I have to say, the first few times I tried it I was more than a bit underwhelmed by the amount of vapour it produced. It tasted fine – very like a cigarette. It seemed to be delivering enough nicotine, too. There just wasn’t very much of it. I’m no cloud chaser, but I’m still used to the vapour production of a modern e-cig, so the little wisps from the Series 7 were a bit of a disappointment.

In fact it was so disappointing that I tried out a suggestion that had been made as a joke: Add some VG to the tobacco. I put some tobacco in a jar, added enough PG to moisten it, and left it overnight. That did a lot for the vapour, but changed the taste quite radically – after all, VG is used as a natural sweetener in a lot of foods.

Heat not Burn UK isn’t a site that gives up easily, though, so I persevered – and finally I cracked it. The secret is the amount of tobacco you put in: Too much, even if it’s loose enough to let the air flow freely, and you don’t get much vapour. Open your baccy pouch, take out enough to loosely fill the chamber – then put about half of it back. I’m guessing that using too much tobacco stops the chamber getting hot enough to create a lot of vapour, but when it’s properly loaded the results are much more impressive.

Battery life turned out to be fairly good. It won’t last a whole day, but it’s easy to charge. The charging port is interesting – it’s magnetic, instead of the usual micro USB. This makes it more robust, and it’s also very quick and easy to connect. If you’re using it at home it’s simple to top up the charge between vaping sessions. Another interesting – but also weird – touch is that there’s a small blue LED mounted on the end of the charger. I have no idea why.

 

Verdict

This was the first loose leaf vaporiser I’d tried, and after the initial process of getting to know how it worked I was quite pleased with it. If you’re looking for huge clouds of vapour the Series 7 probably isn’t for you, but if you just want something to replace your cigarettes that could be a different story. It isn’t quite as close to the experience of smoking as iQOS or Glo, but it does have the advantage of flexibility. The mainstream HnB devices have a pretty limited range of flavours right now, and while that will probably grow over time, I doubt it’s ever going to be huge. With the Series 7, however, you have a lot more options. I tried it with  standard rolling tobacco and a shredded Cohiba cigar, but you also have the full range of pipe tobaccos available, and I think it could work very well with some of those.

Learning to pack the loose leaf atomiser is a bit fiddly, but once you’ve cracked it the Vapour 2 Pro is a solid performer. The e-cig mode is also a nice touch, and you can switch between e-liquid and tobacco in seconds. Overall this is a very nice system; it seems to be well made, and with a bit of practice it delivers a satisfying tobacco vape. If you’re interested in a loose leaf vaporiser and don’t want to shell out for a PAX 2 (or want the ability to use e-liquid too) you won’t go far wrong with the Vapour 2 Pro Series 7.

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BAT Glo- Heat Not Burn UK gets hands on.

BAT Glo

As mentioned before we are not all about the iQOS, sure it’s a great bit of kit but there are also many others out there. Here we see our very own HnB aficionado Fergus doing a hands on video review of British American Tobacco’s entry into the heat not burn market, the BAT Glo.

As Fergus rightly points out this is currently on limited release but as soon as it becomes available here in the UK we will do our best to add it to our online web store where we are currently selling the iQOS.

Some of the team here have been trying their best to shed some new ight on when the BAT Glo is expected to be released here in the UK but so far BAT are playing their cards very close to their chests and we have no further info to share with you.

Also please see the “related” area underneath this video review for more posts related to the BAT Glo, including a very good tear down of the NeoStick, which is the name that BAT uses for its tobacco sticks.

We will be doing another video on the Vapour2 PRO Series 7 within the next couple of weeks along with an extensive blog post review so watch this space!

Update: As promised here is an extensive blog review of the Vapour 2 Pro 7