Vaping Diaries #233: Innokin Paul Aaron Hare Interview (ECC 2014)

One of the most interesting booths I visited at ECC 2014 was Innokin’s. The company had a wide variety of vaping products geared towards all sorts of vapers. Thankfully, Innokin chief marketing officer Paul Aaron Hare was on hand to walk me through them. The venerable iTaste SVD is getting updated through a partnership with the excellent Evolv Vapor. The iTaste SVD 2 uses a custom chip called the DNA Experience. One of my favorite things about Innokin is that the company isn’t afraid to take design risks, as seen in the iTaste 134 and iTaste VTR. That tradition continues with the Arachnid and Clockwork mods (both prototypes) displayed at the show. RPadholic N8R and I were both smitten with Innokin’s copper mod, codenamed Torch. This beauty features a Statue of Liberty engraving, which totally appealed to the New Yorker in me. The 134 series is going mechanical, with the 134 MX-M and 134 MX-Z models. Lastly, Innokin had a new rebuildable atomizer called the Exthermal, which resembles a beehive or a ray gun, depending on your point of view.

Innokin has long been my favorite vaping company out of China and it’s continuing to broaden its reach. The company has always excelled with beginner and intermediate devices. Its variable-voltage and variable-wattage devices have been strong too. It’s great to see the company branching out with mechanical mods and rebuildable atomizers, both of which should appeal to advanced vapers. Throughout the entire product line, Innokin offers relatively low prices and solid build quality. While so many Chinese vaping companies pump out clones, it’s great to see a company like Innokin working on original products that are great for all sorts of vapers. Be sure to check out the video above to see Innokin’s latest and greatest, as described by the company’s chief marketing officer, Paul Aaron Hare.

Innokin ECC 2014

Vaping Diaries #152: Innokin iTaste VTR Review

The Innokin iTaste VTR is a variable-voltage/variable-wattage box mod with a unique form factor. Positioned as the company’s premium box mod — with the iTaste MVP 2 positioned as the affordable model — the iTaste VTR has all the features vapers want from a VV/VW device. Its performance is accurate, the wattage and voltage ranges are broad, it can check resistance (ohms), and the build quality is tops. To me, this is the best product Innokin has ever released, but there’s a big reason to disagree with my opinion — the weight. With its integrated-clearomizer design, the iTaste VTR is fairly compact, but it’s also one of the heaviest vaping devices I’ve used. Some people will be completely turned off by the weight, but if you can manage it then you’ll enjoy one of the best mass-market box mods available today.

What’s in the Kit: The iTaste VTR comes in a decorative box, similar to the iTaste 134. The box comes with the unit, an iClear 30s clearomizer, a 510 adapter tube, and the instruction manual. You’ll need to supply your own 18650 battery.

Ergonomics and Design: The design is the most unique feature of this vaping device. Unlike most box mods — which aren’t all that common to begin with — the iTaste VTR has a compartment for an atomizer. Obviously it was designed to hold Innokin’s iClear 30 and iClear 30s products, but it can accept clearomizers with a diameter of 19mm or less. With a clearomizer that size inserted into the unit, the iTaste VTR is quite compact. That’s the good news.

The bad news, for some vapers, is that the iTaste VTR is extremely heavy. It’s one of the heaviest vaping devices I’ve ever used. Even though I generally prefer mods with a nice heft to them, there were times when I felt the weight of the iTaste VTR was a bit much. For vapers that prefer lighter devices, the weight is definitely a deal-breaker. Based on the weight alone, I highly recommend checking out the iTaste VTR at a shop to see if the weight is something that will work for you.

As for the other ergonomic aspects of the iTaste VTR, let’s look at the device with the clearomizer slot pointed down. To the left of the slot is the LCD display, which is very bright and easy to read. Going clockwise, the firing button is opposite the clearo cutout. At the top of the unit is a dial to adjust voltage and wattage, with a function button in the center of the dial.

If you’re using an atomizer that doesn’t fit into the cutout then you can use the included 510 adapter tube. The adapter accepts both 510-threaded and eGo-threaded atomizers. It’s a nice inclusion, but really defeats the purpose of the product’s design.

If you can manage the weight and use an atomizer that fits into the cutout, the iTaste VTR is generally comfortable to use. I enjoyed using it most of the time. When I was out walking and vaping, there were a few occasions where the heft was a bit much for me.

Construction and Build Quality: The model I reviewed was the polished version, which picks up fingerprints like crazy. The unit looks lovely when it’s clean, but after a few minutes of use you’ll have loads of fingerprint smudges. I hate that, but understand that many vapers don’t mind it. If you hate fingerprints then you should consider the green version of this product.

Like Innokin’s other top devices, the build quality is very good. The device is put together well and the quality is strong for a mass-produced product. As far as construction goes, the iTaste VTR is among Innokin’s best offerings.

Operation: Using the iTaste VTR is a snap. Pressing the function button brings up the atomizer resistance (ohms) and last voltage or wattage setting. Pressing it again will change it between variable-voltage and variable-wattage mode. Moving the the wheel clockwise will increase voltage or wattage, while moving it counterclockwise decreases those settings.

The voltage range is 3.0 to 6.0 volts adjustable in 0.1-volt increments, while the wattage range is 3.0 to 15.0 volts adjustable in 0.5-watt increments. This is a broader range than what the iTaste MVP 2 features.

The LED above the firing button give you a general idea of your battery life. Green means that your battery is above 3.75 volts, yellow means it’s somewhere between 3.61 and 3.75 volts, and red means that it’s below 3.61 volts.

Performance and Battery Life: Like Innokin’s other top products, the iTaste VTR delivers consistent output. I used it at a variety of voltage and wattage settings, and was satisfied with what the device delivered. The device is best used with the clearomizer cutout. With the 510 adapter tube, the unit seemed to deliver slightly less power (which you can compensate for by dialing up voltage or wattage) and didn’t check resistance as consistently as it did with the atomizer connected directly to the slot. The wasn’t too surprising since the adapter adds another junction for current to flow through.

Since the iTaste VTR has a five-amp limit, I recommend going with a high-mAh battery like the Panasonic NCR18650B. With its 3,100 mAh capacity, this battery will get most vapers at least a day and half of vaping, while some vapers will get two days or more out of it.

Innokin iTaste VTR review

Verdict: There are many things I love about the Innokin iTaste VTR. Its design is unique, different, and compact. It comes at an affordable price (street price of around $80). Its performance is consistent. And the kit is complete (really like the iClear 30s, btw). Prior to the iTaste VTR’s release, I thought that the iTaste SVD was Innokin’s best product to date. Personally, I feel that the iTaste VTR is even better, but I completely understand someone thinking otherwise, simply because of the unit’s weight.

The iTaste VTR offers the features and performance at vapers want from a VV/VW device, but its unusually high weight is a deal-breaker for some. That’s totally understandable. If you’re looking for a VV/VW device and don’t mind a heavy product then the iTaste VTR will make you very, very happy. If weight is a concern and you don’t mind a lower voltage/wattage range then the iTaste MVP 2 is a better choice.

Vaping Diaries #126: Innokin iTaste VTR Preview

Arguably the most-wanted Innokin product of 2013, the iTaste VTR is a box mod positioned as a premium product. Out of the box, I was surprised by its heft. The iTaste VTR is a weighty vaping device that looks bolder and feels more luxurious than its sister product, the iTaste MVP 2. My initial impression is that a strong argument can be made that this is the best product Innokin has released, but some vapers will be put off by its weight. However, I definitely need to spend more time with the iTaste VTR before passing judgement.

The iTaste VTR comes in a decorative box, just like the iTaste 134. The kit includes the mod, an Innokin iClear 30s clearomizer, and an adapter tube. The unit was made with the iClear 30 and iClear 30s in mind. However, it can hold any clearomizer with similar dimensions (diameter less than 19mm, height around 78mm). For atomizers that won’t fit into the clearomizer cutout, the include adapter ensures that any 510-threaded part will work with the iTaste VTR.

Using the iTaste VTR is relatively easy. While it’s not quite as simple as using the iTaste MVP 2’s various functions, it’s still relatively straightforward. There’s a power button, a function button, and a scroll wheel. The power button turns the device on or off and fires the device. The function button pulls up atomizer resistance, voltage, wattage, and battery life. Voltage and wattage are adjusted using the scroll wheel. The voltage range is 3.0 to 6.0 volts adjustable in 0.1-volt increments, while the wattage range is 3.0 to 15.0 volts adjustable in 0.5-watt increments

So far I’ve used the iTaste VTR with an iClear 30 clearomizer and a Vapage dripping atomizer. The output has been consistent, but I haven’t tried many different settings yet. Most of the Innokin devices I’ve used have consistent output and I expect the same from the iTaste VTR.

Check out the video preview above to see different looks of the iTaste VTR, the iClear 30s, and the optional holster accessory. I’m going to use the device for at least 10 days before reviewing it. Stay tuned for the full review in the near future.

Innokin iTaste VTR Preview

Vaping Diaries #117: How to Properly Pronounce Innokin

Like many vaping reviewers, I’ve been very impressed by Innokin products. Unlike many vaping reviewers, I actually pronounce the company’s name correctly. This is something that has always bugged me; some of the most popular reviewers on YouTube butcher the pronunciation of Innokin. At ECC 2013, I caught up with Innokin deputy manager/vice president Haoran “George” Xia to get the official word on how to properly pronounce Innokin.

To me, it always seemed obvious that the company name was a play on the word innovation. For some reason, some reviewers (*cough* Phil Busardo *cough*) pronounce it In-NO-kin. You don’t in-NO-vate anything. Cool products aren’t in-NO-vative.

So consider this a public service announcement to all the YouTube reviewers that have been mangling the pronunciation of Innokin. Please say the company’s name right in your videos.

Vaping Diaries #113: Innokin at ECC 2013 (iTaste VTR, Cool Fire)

Here’s a quick rundown of Innokin’s ECC 2013 lineup. The company showed off several products that will be available in the next few months. The highly anticipated iTaste VTR box mod hits first, with an October release date. The unit’s heft surprised me; it feels like a solid device that’s considerably heavier than its sister product, the iTaste MVP 2. The massive iTaste 134 will soon be joined by smaller siblings. The iTaste 134 Mini will be available in 18350 and 18490 sizes. Innokin showed off prototypes of the Cool Fire series. The Cool Fire 1 is a simple vaping device for people seeking a stylish and easy-to-use setup. The Cool Fire 2 looks like a hand grenade (don’t being it to the airport!) and uses a variable-wattage scrolling wheel similar to the one on the iTaste 134. I was particularly fond of the Cool Fire 2, simply because it looks like a frickin’ grenade!

Check out the video above to see Innokin’s upcoming products. I’m going to dream about using the Cool Fire 2 while listening to that Bruno Mars song.

Vaping Diaries #101: Innokin iTaste MVP 2 Review

The Innokin iTaste MVP 2 takes everything that vapers loved about the original and adds several new features that make it an excellent all-around package. Like the original, the iTaste MVP 2 has accurate performance and outstanding battery life. The added features include variable-wattage performance, the ability to check resistance (ohms), more precise battery readout, and enhancements to the physical design. When I reviewed the MVP in 2012, I called it, “one of the best deals on the market today.” The same holds true for the iTaste MVP 2.

What’s in the Kit: The Innokin iTaste MVP 2 comes with the unit, a charging cable (wall adapter required), and iClear clearomizers. One package comes with a single iClear 30 clearomizer, while the other comes with two iClear 16 clearomizers. Personally, I’d opt for the iClear 30 version, as I like that clearo better than its smaller sister product.

Ergonomics and Design: Like other box mods, the iTaste MVP 2 is small and compact. It fits easily into a pocket, bag, or purse. For the most part, it retains the style and design language of its predecessor. Some people like its understated looks, while others don’t. I enjoy its looks, since it reminds me of the iRiver MP3 players I used 11 years ago.

The mod feels good in your hand, though some people dislike the placement of the firing button. I found it comfortable to use. However, I understand vapers that would have preferred a button on top of the unit.

The iTaste MVP 2’s firing button is raised, as opposed to the original’s button, which was flush against the unit. The beauty ring is also flush against the unit, while last year’s hung over the side, which could lead to snags. The silver accents at the top and bottom of the unit are matte, as opposed to the polished finish used in last year’s model. These three changes are responses to complaints people had about the original model and they make the unit a little bit better.

The MVP 2’s atomizer connector is greatly improved. It accepts standard 510 and eGo-threaded atomizers. The original worked with 510 parts and iClear clearomizers. For example (also shown in the video), the Kanger T3 clearomizer would not fit in the MVP, but fits just fine in the iTaste MVP 2.

One change Innokin didn’t make with the iTaste MVP 2 was with on/off button for the output feature. It protrudes and can make the device slightly unstable. I haven’t had this problem, since I don’t use this device with a heavy atomizer, but can see how it can be issue for those that use high-capacity glass or metal tanks.

Overall, the iTaste MVP 2’s design will appeal to a broad range of vapers. It’s compact, relatively light, and comfortable to use.

Construction and Build Quality: The iTaste MVP 2’s build quality is great for the price. It’s made mostly from metal (available in four different finishes) and has a plastic firing button. The lines are clean and it’s mostly a solid device. One (very) minor complaint I had was with the P/U buttons on the side of the unit. They rattle slightly, while the buttons in the original MVP didn’t move at all.

Operation: Variable-wattage is the major addition to the iTaste MVP 2’s feature set. The wattage range is 6.0 to 11.0, adjustable in increments of 0.5 watts. Like the original, the voltage range is 3.3 to 5.0 volts, adjustable in 0.1-volt increments.

For such a versatile device, using the iTaste MVP 2 is a snap. Pressing both side buttons displays resistance and battery charge. A short click on the P- or U-buttons shows the puff count. A long press on P-button displays the wattage, while additional clicks let you adjust the wattage. A long press on the U-button displays the voltage, while additional clicks let you adjust that voltage. The information is displayed on a very bright and easy-to-read screen. Innokin did a marvelous job at making the iTaste MVP 2 easy to use.

Like the original model, the iTaste MVP 2 allows you to vape and charge at the same time. It can also charge external devices. This is strictly a backup feature and shouldn’t be relied on for daily charging. The unit can charge Micro USB, Mini USB, and Apple devices using a 32-pin connection. It would have been nice if the Mini USB (not used much these days) or the 32-pin connection were dropped in favor of an Apple Lighting connection (used in newer iOS devices). However, Lightning licenses are expensive and would have added to the cost of the iTaste MVP 2. For a feature not everyone would use, I completely understand why the cost wasn’t worth it.

Performance and Battery Life: The iTaste MVP 2’s outstanding feature is its battery life. Using it as my sole device, I was able to get more than a day and half of use — that’s with heavy vaping. People that vape less frequently will be able to get two days or more out of a full charge. It’s an extraordinary device as far as battery life goes.

The unit also has consistent output. It delivered solidly at the various voltage and wattage settings I used, with atomizers ranging from 1.2 to 3.0 ohms. The output remained steady for the majority of the charge.

The thing to keep in mind is that the battery isn’t easily user-replaceable. Ultimately, that makes the iTaste MVP 2 a disposal device. Generally speaking, lithium-ion batteries can handle around 500 charging cycles before battery life degrades. When the iTaste MVP 2’s battery life starts to run too short, it’s time to recycle it or perform a complex replacement that most vapers won’t want to deal with.

Verdict: The Innokin iTaste MVP 2 has an MSRP of $69, but I’ve seen a few online retailers list it for $60. In that price range, it’s a great deal. You get a fairly complete kit, consistent performance, and stellar battery life in a compact package. Last year’s model hit the sweet spot of price, performance, and features. While vaping has advanced rapidly since then, the iTaste MVP 2 also hits that sweet spot by adding features vapers want and making some physical upgrades. It’s a fantastic choice as a primary vaping device and a great choice for a backup with long battery life. Innokin has knocked another one out of the park with the iTaste MVP 2.

Vaping Diaries #97: Innokin iTaste MVP 2.0 Preview

The original Innokin iTaste MVP offered consistent performance and stellar battery life for a relatively low price. The Innokin iTaste MVP 2.0 has several improvements over its predecessor, both aesthetically and functionally. Here’s a quick look at Innokin’s latest box mod.

The iTaste MVP 2.0’s most notable improvements are the addition of variable-wattage performance and a resistance checker (ohms). These are two features that vapers were clamoring for and it’s great that Innokin has listened to its customers. The wattage range is 6.0 to 11.0, adjustable in increments of 0.5 watts. Like the original, the voltage range is 3.3 to 5.0 volts, adjustable in 0.1-volt increments. Resistance and battery are displayed by hitting the two buttons on the side panel.

There are a few notable physical improvements with the MVP 2.0 as well. The original had a button that was flush against the unit. The MVP 2.0’s button protrudes for a better feel. The silver metal accents have a matte finished, as opposed to the original’s glossy finish. This cuts down on fingerprints. The original’s threading couldn’t accept eGo-threaded parts, while the new model accepts both 510 and eGo-threaded atomizers. Lastly, some people complained about the original’s beauty ring hanging over the side. The MVP 2.0’s beauty ring doesn’t have that problem.

The iTaste MVP 2.0 comes in a plastic box with a charging cable and your choice of two iClear 16 clearomizers or one iClear 30 clearomizer. The MVP 2.0 can be used to charge external device that have Mini USB, Micro USB, and Apple 32-pin connections. I would have liked to have seen Mini USB dropped in favor of an Apple Lightning connection, so that the MVP 2.0 can charge newer iPhones and iPads. However, I understand why Innokin didn’t opt for that connection (I’ll get into that in my review).

At a glance, the Innokin iTaste MVP 2.0 looks like a winner. Last year’s model was a great device and this year’s model has all of the improvements vapers have asked for. I’ll be putting this box mod through its paces before giving it a proper review. Stay tuned!

Vaping Diaries #81: Innokin iTaste 134 Review

Innokin has been pumping out quality devices that combine great performance and great prices. The iTaste MVP, iTaste SVD, and iTaste VV 3.0 are among the best in their respective categories. The iTaste 134 adds something really different and unique to Innokin’s lineup. Unlike its sister products, it doesn’t attempt to offer an affordable device with all the modern features you’d expect. The iTaste 134 offers a distinct style that makes it stand out from the crowd. Its “cool” design comes at the price of some features and performance. Read on to see if this unique vaping device is right for you.

What’s in the Kit: The iTaste 134 comes in a decorative box that includes the device and one iClear 30 clearomizer. The review sample I received was black with silver bars. An all-silver version is also available. The device has an MSRP of $169, so expect a street price a little bit lower than that.

Ergonomics and Design: The most outstanding — and divisive — feature of the iTaste 134 is its design. It’s definitely distinct and noticeable. People either love or hate it. I brought it to four different vape shops in two weeks and people with geeky tendencies loved it; they either enjoyed that it looks like an M134 machine gun or were giddy because it looks like a lightsaber. The people that hated it thought the design was too extreme, saying that it sacrificed functionality for coolness. No matter the case, the iTaste 134 received more attention than any device I’ve ever brought to a vape shop. You won’t need to see it in person to decide if you like the device’s looks (in my experience, many mods look better in person than they do photographed). What you see is what you get with this mod.

As for ergonomics, it really depends on the user. If you like heavy mods then there’s a good chance you’ll like the feel of this one. If thin-and-light mods are your thing then you definitely won’t enjoy using this device — it’s very big and very heavy. As someone that prefers hefty mods, I found the iTaste 134 enjoyable to use. Going into the review, I thought that the silver bars would make it uncomfortable to hold, but that wasn’t the case. After a few days of using it, I became accustomed to the weight and didn’t find it uncomfortable to hold. (Of course all my other mods felt like pencils after using this one.) While the length and weight didn’t bother me, I completely understand that many vapers will find this device cumbersome.

Construction and Build Quality: Like the iTaste MVP and iTaste SVD, the iTaste 134 features very good build quality. It’s a solid device that’s put together well. It’s also a very complex device to assemble (24 screws that you can see and probably several more inside that you can’t), so there are many areas where mistakes could be made. To my delight, there weren’t any loose screws or rattling parts in my review unit.

The two minor problems I had were with the scroll wheel and the firing button. I wanted the wheel to give off a louder click and have a tighter feel. The firing button was too “clicky” for me and I wanted a springier feel. These are two areas that will be improved in the final version of the device. My Innokin contact said that the button and scroll wheel on the final version will be made from better material that’s more durable. The final scroll wheel will also have a louder click. Obviously I can’t say how these facets of the device will end up, but keep that in mind when you’re reading reviews that are posted around the same time as mine or before — this is not final hardware and minor changes will be made.

Operation: This is one facet of the device that isn’t getting much attention. It’s so easy to use. Since it’s variable wattage, users don’t have to worry about the resistance (ohms) of the equipment they put on top. The output will be consistent. The scroll wheel couldn’t be easier to use; you simply slide the wheel to the desired wattage. In many respects, the iTaste 134 is like an eGo-C Twist on steroids. For vapers that find menu systems using multiple button clicks confusing or annoying, this mod is a great choice. It combines the simplicity of an eGo-C Twist with 18650 battery life and the accuracy/versatility of variable-wattage performance.

The ease of use comes at a price though: functionality. Since it doesn’t have an LCD screen and menu buttons, the iTaste 134 doesn’t do all the things that its sister product, the excellent iTaste SVD, can do. The big one for me is the battery indicator, which only gives basic information using three colors (green = high charge, yellow = average charge, red = low charge). Some people have complained that the iTaste 134 can’t display resistance. My Innokin contact said that since the device is variable-wattage then there’s no need to see resistance since the output will be whatever you set it to. I agree with him to a point. Most users don’t need to see resistance. There are some good reasons to know the ohms of your juice delivery system (particularly for people that build their own coils), but most users don’t need to know this. That said, even people that don’t need to know their resistance want to. I totally get the need for useless info. I’m a mark for advanced sports metrics. I’ve wasted hundreds of hours on Wikipedia researching things I don’t need to know about. While I use delivery systems that require rebuilding, I also use lots of standard gear. No matter the case, I find myself checking resistance for no reason other than “because I can.”

Performance and Battery Life: For the review, I used the iTaste 134 with rebuildable atomizers, direct-driping atomizers, a carto/tank, and a clearomizer. In all cases, the output was consistent. Compared to the iTaste SVD, which I found to be a very accurate device, the output felt a tiny bit lower at the same wattage settings. While it was a little puzzling considering that both devices use the same PCB, according to my Innokin contact, the variance wasn’t large enough to bother me.

The biggest issue I had was with the device’s wattage range. It can be set from 6.5 to 12.5 watts. However, from 7.0 to 12.0 watts it can only be adjusted in 1.0-watt increments. (And no, you can’t set it between numbers on the scroll wheel. The device won’t fire.) Compare that to the iTaste SVD (which, again, uses the same PCB), which has a range of 3.0 to 15.0 watts that can be adjusted in 0.5-watt increments. It’s not so much the limited range that bothered me (though that will certainly be an issue for some vapers) as much as the 1.0-watt adjustments. Being able to fine tune output for certain juices or delivery systems is a big deal and that can’t be done with the iTaste 134. As someone that usually vapes at 8.5 watts, I had to compromise in one direction or the other. I felt like Goldilocks with only two choices: “This vape is too soft. This vape is too hard.” With a lot of the juices I vaped on the iTaste 134, I couldn’t get the “just right” taste that I’m used to.

As for battery life, it all depends on the battery you’re using and your vaping habits. Using the excellent Panasonic NCR18650B, I got around 1.25 to 1.5 days of vaping per charge.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a great vaping device with all the bells and whistles then you should take a good look at the iTaste SVD. It simply does more than the iTaste 134. If you’re looking for a powerful mod that’s easy to use then the iTaste 134 could be a great device for you. What it all comes down to is looks. This is a very unique and distinct mod. For some people, a $150 street price is worth paying just to have something different. For others, it’s not. The iTaste 134 is somewhat limited and certainly heavy, but there’s nothing else like it on the market.

I like that the iTaste 134 is atypical and love that Innokin has tried something different in order to diversify its lineup. It’s a very unusual move for a Chinese vaping company. Most manufacturers from China release “me too” products, straight-up clones, or devices with unarguably ugly designs. I applaud Innokin for releasing a device that’s strikingly unusual. Would I buy one? Yes. I’m a big enough nerd to get $150 of vaping enjoyment just off of its looks. That said, I completely understand vapers that feel that this device is too limited and unwieldy for their money.

[Update July 29]: Innokin dropped me a line to make sure that people know not to use stacked 18350 batteries with the iTaste 134. The combined 7.4 volts of power may damage the PCB.

Vaping Diaries #77: Innokin iTaste 134 Preview

The Innokin iTaste 134 is one of the most unique vaping devices I’ve seen all year. This 18650-battery mod has extremely distinct looks, an unusual weight and heft for a digital mod, and an atypical slider to adjust wattage. It’s very cool and very macho, but there are a few things to think about before you plop down money for a pre-order.

The iTaste 134’s design is striking. It totally reminded me of Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s character in Predator. (The one that “Ain’t got time to bleed,” and proclaimed himself to be, “A goddamn sexual tyranasaurus.”) This is the vaping device that he’d use. It has very bold lines that give it a masculine appearance.

Vapers that prefer thin-and-light mods will find the iTaste 134 intimidating. It’s one of the largest and heaviest devices I’ve used. It’s even bigger than an Alt Smoke Silver Bullet with a Kick extension, a device many consider to be large. Personally, I prefer mods that have a nice heft, so I’ve been enjoying the iTaste 134. Keep in mind that I’ve only had it for a few hours. I’m curious to find out if the weight will bother me after extended usage.

To change the device’s output, you have to twist a sliding mechanism. This is common with smaller vaping devices, like the eGo Twist, but something I haven’t seen in a mod that uses 18650 batteries. The lowest setting is 6.5 watts. From there, you can adjust in 1-watt increments from 7-watts to 12-watts. The iTaste 134’s highest setting is 12.5 watts. While many vapers will be fine with this setup, those that like to fine-tune their wattage will have to compromise. Another factor to keep in mind is that while the slider mechanism makes the iTaste 134 very easy to use, it also means that the device can’t do things that those with digital screens can do, such as displaying resistance (ohms) and precise battery levels.

The iTaste 134 comes in a nice decorative box. Included are the unit and one iClear 30 clearomizer. Innokin is still determining the MSRP (which should be finalized next week). I’ve seen pre-orders for the iTaste 134 as low as $99 and as high as $160.

While this is definitely a very cool and very distinct device, I need to spend more time with it in order to judge its performance. Stay tuned for the full review in the near future.

Vaping Diaries #72: Innokin iTaste VV 3.0 Review

Innokin is back with the third version of the iTaste VV. Gone is the pen-cap cover, which some people loved and some people hated. The finicky magnet adapters have been dropped in favor of an eGo-threaded 510 connection. Battery life has been slightly improved too. The two big additions are a resistance (ohms) meter and variable-wattage performance.

The iTaste VV 3.0 competes with products like the eGo Twist and the KGO VV. Those products offer similar form factors and battery life, as well as variable-voltage versatility. The iTaste trumps them by offering both variable-voltage and variable-wattage performance. This is a big deal. As far as I know, Innokin is the only vendor that offers a relatively small e-cigarette with variable-wattage. On features alone, this is a best-in-class product, but how is its performance and value? Read on to find out.

What’s in the Kit: The iTaste VV 3.0 comes in a Full Kit and Express Kit. The Full Kit (pictured above) includes a battery, five iClear 16 clearomizers, a retractable Micro USB cable, a wall adapter, a detailed instruction manual for the device, and a leaflet for clearomizer instructions. The Express Kit comes with a battery and a retractable cable sans wall adapter.

Construction and Build Quality: The build quality of the device is good, but not great. Since it’s aimed towards newer vapers or heavy vapers looking for a secondary device, top-of-the-line materials aren’t used, which is totally expected. Most of the device is inexpensive metal (copper, aluminum, and zinc), while the accents and buttons are plastic. Like the other Innokin devices I’ve reviewed, this one features a bright and clear LCD display.

For a device this small and light, it feels solid…until you move it. This is a minor nitpick, but I didn’t like how the buttons rattled when the device was moved. The rattling adds a sense of cheapness to an otherwise solid device.

Ergonomics and Design: Unlike most of its competitors, the iTaste VV 3.0 features a square design. I love the look of the device; the lines are clean and the device is generally handsome. The squareness is practical too, since it won’t roll off of surfaces like round devices. The device is comfortable to hold and the buttons are accurate. There isn’t much you can do with vaping devices of this style, but Innokin’s design stands out.

Operation: The instruction manual does a great job of explaining the iTaste VV 3.0’s functions. It’s easy to switch between variable-wattage and variable-voltage mode, check atomizer resistance, and change voltage or wattage. The device can be adjusted from 3.3 to 5.0 volts in 0.1-volt increments, as well as 6.0 to 11.0 watts in 0.5-watt increments. The only thing I didn’t like on the operation side is that you’re forced to see the puff counter before you can adjust voltage or wattage. While I understand that the puff counter is a popular feature in some regions, most American vapers don’t care about it.

Performance and Battery Life: I was surprised and impressed by the device’s performance. Output was generally consistent over the numerous voltage and wattage settings I tried. The iTaste VV 3.0 delivered a satisfying vape with the various clearomizers, carto/tanks, and dripping atomizers I used with it. Vapers accustomed to large and powerful mods that are looking for a backup or stealth device will be happy with what this device delivers.

The iTaste VV 3.0’s battery capacity is rated at 800 mAh. This is enough for casual vapers to get through the day, but not nearly enough for heavy vapers. On the days that I used the iTaste VV 3.0 as my sole vaping device, I used around three full battery charges, which was inline with my expectations. The device does offer Micro USB passthrough, enabling simultaneous charging and vaping. If you’re a frequent vaper that’s looking to use this as your only device then I’d suggest getting two batteries.

Verdict: The Innokin iTaste VV 3.0 is the best small vaping device I’ve ever used. It performs well, delivers the battery life you’d expect from a device this size, and offers variable-wattage performance. As far as I know, it’s the only device this size that offers variable wattage, which adds nice convenience and great versatility for beginning vapers or those that don’t have the Ohm’s law vaping chart memorized.

The iTaste VV 3.0 Express Kit has a retail price of $49.99, while the Full Kit lists for $69.99. I’ve seen the former for as low as $25 and the latter for as low as $40. At those prices, both kits are fantastic values. The Full Kit is a great choice for people starting out with vaping or those upgrading from cig-alike products. The Express Kit works well for experienced vapers looking for a backup or stealth device. As of this writing, I believe that the iTaste VV 3.0 is the best vaping device in its category.