Japan Tobacco Inc have been playing with heat-not-burn in various guises for a while. Admittedly, early attempts weren’t particularly commercial successes (compared to other manufacturers early forays). I tried one of the early JTI Ploom Tech devices in 2016 and was underwhelmed by the experience.
Fortunately, JTI have learned how things work with the Ploom X. They’ve come up with a very slick device that fits comfortable in the hand and, aside from some features that most probably won’t use, has a few innovations that are interesting. Welcome to our Ploom X review.
Normally, I’d go over an unboxing but, considering that most major heat-not-burn products all follow a similar packaging style, I’m going to give it a miss and head straight into features.
How it works
The first thing that I noticed was a complete lack of physical buttons. This made me wonder whether the polished surface was a touch panel. I wasn’t far wrong, there is a hidden physical button which is accessed by a firm press in the centre of the front cover. The cover, of course, is removable (it is held in place by two magnets) which means that there are some personalisation options with ten different colours available.
The solitary LED that I expected to find serves multiple purposes:
- When in use, counts “up” to the end of the session
- When heating, the LED fills indicating readiness (~25 seconds)
- Displays battery capacity by sliding the cover open
- If the device encounters an error, the LED will flash (rapidly) 10 times
I like the visual indication of the heating time. As far as I know, the Ploom X is the only device to offer this, and it is a nice touch. Not that this feature is essential to the operation of the device, it is simply a nice-to-have.
The Ploom X sports a chunky 2800mAh Lithium-ion battery which, when fully charged, is more than enough power to consume a pack of twenty EVO sticks. It is also not a slug when it comes to charging. From flat to full in 110 minutes. Not the quickest by any stretch of the imagination, nor the slowest. Charging is via the USB-C port located on the bottom of the device itself.
One feature that is present – that I had trouble getting to work – is the “manual lock”. According to the manual, the cover is to slide open then immediately closed followed by a press (and hold) of the button until the device vibrates. This is just to set-up the combination. Once setup mode is active, the “combination” is a number of slider open/closed positions (minimum of 3 and a maximum of 10) and/or button presses.
Personally, I found the setup process and the subsequent need to unlock for every use cumbersome. I prefer a simpler approach to prevent accidental use, such as multiple button presses which is the norm for most devices.
Unlike other popular devices, the Ploom X uses a heating chamber (dubbed Heatflow technology) rather than a blade or spike (a discussion which rages on in the heat-not-burn offices on a regular basis). The obvious advantage to a heated chamber over a blade or spike in the stick is that there is minimal chance of the tobacco getting stuck (as is known to happen on occasion).
According to Ploom, HeatFlow means “minimal charring, no smoke smell and just a subtle pleasant aroma” and “it gives you all the taste and intensity you want from the very first puff”. I can vouch for the first part. The sticks, once used, are not charred in the slightest. The outer wrap is clearly discoloured (as you would expect) but there is zero evidence of charring.
There is a very subtle aroma while the stick is being heated and it is pleasant. However, the taste and intensity part aren’t strictly true.
When Ploom finishes heating (which, as noted above, is pretty quick at 25 seconds) the first few puffs are much warmer than expected. This isn’t strictly a bad thing, as it is the closest I’ve come to a cigarette-like experience without combustion. But that quickly disappears.
Other heat-not-burn products I’ve used (and I’ve used a quite a few) tend to be warm throughout the session – given that most tend to heat to ~350C and use various technological tricks to keep the temperature close to burning, this isn’t surprising. Ploom, however, seems to turn off the heating element completely shortly after the device is ready for use. Or, at least, it turns the power down to an absolute minimum. The tail end of any session (usually around 5m 30s) is substantially cooler.
Initially, this does mean that the flavour from the EVO stick is really intense early on in the session. Only for that intensity to diminish from around the 5th or 6th puff. It does, however, remain consistent for the remainder of the session. As the sticks are much longer than HEETS, you can easily get 19 puffs before the Ploom gives its 30 second warning vibration. Enough for another puff or two.
It may just be me, but I prefer to have a more consistent flavour throughout rather than having a particularly intense start that fades. Speaking of flavours.
There are nine EVO flavours to choose from:
- Bronze – Full flavoured tobacco (for those familiar with HEETS, this would be akin to Sierra)
- Amber – Smooth and rounded (akin to Amber HEETS)
- Green – Menthol, no explanation necessary here!
- Green Option – Menthol with an added peppermint capsule (similar to the HEETS Caps)
- Purple – Berry and menthol
- Magenta – Grape & mint
- Ruby – Apple & mint
- Purple Option – same as Purple (above) but with the added capsule (berry capsule)
- Baize Option – same as Amber (above) but with the added capsule (pear capsule)
JTI have come a long way since the early devices and the Ploom X marks what could be a new beginning for their heated tobacco product range. As there isn’t a blade or spike, cleaning is easy (recommended after every 20 EVO sticks, as is the norm) and the device itself is easy on the eye and easy to hold too despite clocking in a bit on the chunky side at 94g (far heavier than most other devices).
Of course, the front panel is a magnet for finger marks and scratches, but what plastic isn’t?
A solid, relatively innovative offering from JTI.
We are now selling the fantastic new Ploom X and it can be purchased from our webstore here, or by clicking the product image below. Price is £29 and the price includes 40 EVO tobacco sticks for free.
The Ploom X has now been replaced with the brand new Ploom X Advanced and that can be found HERE.
All products sold here on Heat Not Burn UK are intended for smokers of the legal smoking age.