When I first heard about the Ovale USA eVic, I was immediately intrigued. As a longtime tech writer, I was fascinated by the idea of a vaping device with upgradeable firmware. Like computers, consoles, and mobile phones I’ve reviewed, the eVic has the potential to get better and better with each firmware update. After using the device for the last month, the eVic has shown its potential. Initially, I found it to be middling, but after a firmware update the experience was much, much better. This is one of the most unique vaping devices available today, but it’s not right for everyone. Here’s the breakdown.
What’s in the Kit: Like the other Ovale USA products I’ve reviewed, the eVic comes nicely packaged. Included in the box are the device, a 2,600 mAh 18650 battery, a USB cable, a wall adapter, and a thorough instruction manual. Considering the relatively complex nature of the eVic, a concise and easy-to-understand instruction manual was a must. Ovale USA did a good job at explaining how everything works (though the “How to Vape” section kind of cracked me up). The manual made me think of the Innokin iTaste MVP, which is a fine vaping device, but its spartan instruction manual left some users wondering how basic functions work. Even the most technologically-challenged vapers should be able to master the eVic after reading the instruction manual.
The eVic has a list price of $139 and currently costs $104.20 on Ovale USA’s site.
Construction and Build Quality: The eVic’s construction is mostly good. The tube is primarily metal, with some bits of plastic (twist ring, LCD cover, firing button, and battery cap). While the construction wasn’t as impressive as something like the rock-solid Silver Bullet, I was pleased with the eVic’s build. One area of concern for some users is the cover for the Micro USB port; it’s a small and somewhat fragile flap, similar to the ones used on some mobile phones. I didn’t have a problem with it personally, but I have several friends that have ripped out similar flaps on their phones and I imagine some users will rip the flap off of the eVic. Honestly, I don’t get how people tear these things out, but I understand that it happens.
Ergonomics and Design: For an 18650-battery mod, the eVic is fairly svelte. This is due to the metal tube being relatively thin. Compared to many mods that use an 18650 battery, the eVic feels thin and light, which some users will appreciate. It felt very comfortable in my hand, using my thumb to hit the firing button.
As for its looks, this is a slick device. There’s not a lot you can do to make a tube mod look different, but this one stands out — certainly more than I thought it would. I was recently at Volcano Vapor Cafe in Honolulu and several patrons immediately recognized the device, gushing over it. I also like the subtle branding on the eVic; it has the Ovale and eVic brands painted on in a silver that’s slightly darker than the tube. A lot of the mods I’ve seen and used have ham-fisted branding, so it was nice to see something subtle.
Operation: The eVic uses a 510 connection that accepts a wide variety of equipment. With the top cap on, you can use standard 510 atomizers and cartomizers. If you take the top cap off, it’s a cinch to use eGo-threaded parts. After spilling a bunch of e-liquid on my pants unscrewing a Kanger T3 with the top cap on, I highly recommend taking it off when using eGo-threaded parts. (Yes, I should get an idiot award for that maneuver.)
Sorting through the device’s functions was a snap for me, though I can see some people getting tired of the twisting and clicking. It’s five clicks to wake up the device or to get to the menu system when it’s on. The scroll wheel sorts through the various functions, while the firing button confirms the selection. The thing to keep in mind is that there really isn’t a device with this much functionality. It would be easy to complain that the user interface is similar to the cumbersome ones found on many television sets or mobile phones from a decade ago, but this is new ground for a vaping device. Being able to select voltage, wattage, temperature alarm, puff count, and more is novel. For a first-of-its-kind device, the UI on the eVic is acceptable.
Software: The eVic works in conjunction with the My Vapor Record software. The software can be used to track vaping patterns and update firmware. It’s fairly simple software, but again it doesn’t really have any competitors. For me, it wasn’t useful outside of updating firmware, but some users like to be able to track their vaping habits and it can be a great tool for vapers looking to limit their usage. One of the guys I met at Volcano Vapor Cafe described the tracking function as, “So gangsta!”
There were a few things I didn’t like about My Vapor Record. First, it’s only available for Windows. With the rapid growth of the Mac OS X market, I was surprised by the oversight. OS X and Linux users will have to dual-boot or borrow a friend’s machine to update firmware. Secondly, I didn’t like that My Vapor Record runs in the background; that seems like a waste of system resources and could slow things down for people using older Windows machines.
Performance and Battery Life: As far as straight vaping goes, the eVic has been a solid performer. It produces satisfying hits, though the voltage accuracy is a bit off. Trying a variety of voltage settings, I found the accuracy to be as much as 0.2 volts higher or lower than what was set. If you’re a by-the-numbers vaper then this can be off-putting. My recommendation is to dial to taste. Vapers that enjoy extreme high-voltage settings won’t be pleased with the device’s limits, but it should satisfy the majority of vapers out there.
Updating from firmware version 1.0 to 1.1 made a huge difference in performance. Originally, the eVic wasn’t a true variable-wattage device, meaning that the wattage wouldn’t automatically adjust when atomizers, cartomizers, or clearomizers were changed. The new firmware fixed that issue and also streamlined the UI, making the eVic easier to use.
In terms of battery life, I got a day and half of use out of a full charge. This was inline with my expectations of an 18650-battery mod. One nice thing about the eVic is that it doesn’t require a separate charger. You can leave the battery in the device and charge via USB, with or without a wall adapter. Like many device on the market, it offers pseudo-passthrough functionality; you can vape and charge if there’s some battery power left, but you can’t run the device plugged in if the battery is fully depleted.
Verdict: When I first started using the eVic, I thought it was an “okay” vaping device. The accuracy was off, the UI was cluttered, and I really didn’t like that it didn’t offer true variable-wattage performance. Firmware update 1.1 addressed two of those concerns and now I feel that it’s a very good device with the potential to be a great one. The upgradeable firmware was what made the eVic so interesting to me in the first place. I love that the eVic experience I’m enjoying today is better than the one I had out of the box and could be very different from the one I’ll have six months from now. I knew that there would be some initial kinks with the eVic and was pleased to see Joyetech (the OEM) address them so quickly. It’s unique that the same vaping hardware has gone from okay to very good in less than a month. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
The eVic is best for people that enjoy a certain amount of tinkering and like to play around with gadgets. There are better choices for those looking for a straight-up vaping experience, but this is one of the most unique products on the market today. It’s versatile, comfortable, and produces satisfying vapor. As of this writing, it’s a very good mod and I have a feeling that a future firmware update will make it a great one within the next few months.