Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: eGo Clearomizer Electronic Cigarette

I've been "vaping" -- with occasional backslides into "real tobacco" -- for more than three years now. Over that time period, I've tried several types (and varieties within types) of electronic cigarettes.

In the beginning, there was the KR808D-1, sent to me by my friend Morey Straus to try out. That model is pretty much the grand-daddy of the e-cigarettes you see in convenience stores these days. It's a battery with a "cartomizer" (a combined atomizer and holder for the "e-juice") attached. Some of them have removable cartomizers that can be refilled; some are designed to be disposed of once the battery or "juice" runs out.

Nothing against that type of e-cig, but over time I've decided I don't like them that much. The cartomizers soak up the juice in a sort of wadding or batting that releases it when the atomizer heats things up. They're kind of a pain to clean and refill, and after awhile the vapor seems to taste more like the wadding/batting than like whatever flavor of juice I'm using.

Earlier this year, I bought an atomizer/"tank" model, the Super 510-T. In this type of e-cig, the battery, the atomizer and the plastic tank that the juice goes into are separate units. I liked the flavor coming out of the Super 510-T a lot better than the wadding/batting types; there's nothing soaking the liquid up. When you vape, a little teat poking up from the atomizer heats the juice directly. BUT: The plastic tanks tend to start leaking after a few uses, the atomizers don't seem to last very long, etc.

I've been looking around and thinking about trying out a new e-cig setup. And last weekend, Tamara and I were driving past a store (Let It Roll) where we've bought e-juice and "roll your own" tobacco/paper/filter setups before, and noticed a "free e-cigarette starter kit" sign. The details: Buy three 10ml bottles of juice, get the eGo-T Clearomizer starter kit free. So we did (six bottles of juice, two kits).

eGo-T Battery
w/ CE4 Clearomizer
The kits seem to be of the type that retail in the $20 range. They include one battery (branded with the Let It Roll logo, unlike the example pic to the right), one "clearomizer" (I'll get to that in a minute) and one USB charger. I've been vaping the Ego-T for four days now -- one recharge and I'm into my second clearomizer of juice, so pretty much enough to tell whether or not I like it.

I like it.

When the whole mess is assembled, it's larger than a "real cigarette." More the size of a medium cigar, really. But it's comfortable to hold, and I'm not personally invested in having something that "looks like a cigarette."

One feature I really like is that the battery can be turned on and off. Hit the little button five times in quick succession, it turns on. Hit the little button five more times, it turns off. So you don't have to worry about seeing vapor rise out of your shirt pocket where you stuck your e-cigarette and body motion pressed the button (yes, I have had this happen) or burning up all your juice because you sat the thing down and the button engaged (haven't had that happen, but it seems theoretically possible).

The "clearomizer" is sort of a cross between those batting/wadding things and the "tank" idea. It's an atomizer and tank in one unit, with little wicks hanging down from the atomizer to soak up juice from the tank. The wicks don't seem to affect the flavor in the way that the wadding/batting does, although I guess time will tell. The liquid (up to 1.6 ml) is free inside the tank until you press the button on the battery and inhale.

The unit produces sufficient vapor to satisfy me, a "real smoker" of 30 years. Flavor is dependent on juice quality, of course -- I've tried the "fruit stripe gum" and "menthol" flavors and like them both. So far I've had no leakage problems with the CE4 clearomizer. I understand there are other varieties of clearomizer, of various materials, in various colors, atomizer coil resistances, etc. The CE4 is plastic; I'll have to get a glass clearomizer if I want to vape the red hot cinnamon flavor of juice, because that juice eats plastic ... which gives me pause. I really love that flavor, but if it eats plastic I'm not sure I want it in my lungs.

So anyway, after four days I'm very pleased with the eGo-T w/ CE4 clearomizer. I'll update this review if any issues arise, but the price was right (I'd have bought juice for the old Super 510-T in any case; I got a free rig out of the deal for buying in larger than usual volume, and I know I'll use it), the battery holds a charge, the clearomizer doesn't leak, and the vapor production and flavor are outstanding.

Given the store branding, I suspect that there's an eGo-T campaign going on nationwide, with stores buying branded batteries in volume and offering the "free kits" to build their customer bases If you're just getting around to trying e-cigs, you may want to grab one of those $5 disposable convenience store rigs first just to make sure this is your kind of thing. But if you're really going to make the change to e-cigs, the eGo-T or some other tank/atomizer or clearomizer setup are cheaper in the long run and frankly offer a more pleasant vaping experience.
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