I grouped these together as I believe that these are the best compact mods out there that feature removable 18650 batteries (as of fall 2015).
Let’s start of with dimensions (H X W X L in mm):
VTC mini : 82 X 22.2 X 38.2.
IPV D2 : 78 x 23 x 40 (barely over 3″ height)
SBody Macro: 75.2 X 22.1 X 34.8. (2.97 inches heigh)
Joyetech Evic VTC Mini
In the 45-75 USD range. It has the best build quality of the three, however I do have a couple of gripes with it. While it has a gorgeous display, it does not brighten when firing the device. I’m nitpicking.
Accessing user menu is somewhat of a pain and not easy to adjust when on the fly. My primary gripe is that in TC mode, the TC settings can only be changed on the fly by using the up down buttons. To change the wattage in TC mode, you must access the user menu (press three times on the fire button when unit is on) and then scroll to the wattage setting with the left button. To make this even more aggravating, once you scroll to the wattage selection, you must use the right button and scroll up. There is no way to lower the setting- you have to scroll up , allow it to restart from the lowest setting and then scroll to where you want it.
It also appears to have a slight delay when firing. I have a peeve about this and normally consider this to be a dealbreaker, however I only discovered this when testing it on a oscilloscope. It’s nowhere as bad as some of the Chinese DNA clone mods or the eVic Supreme, as the delay is about .2 seconds.VTC mini has 60 watts of power, supports Nickel and Titanium wire and has USB charging on the side.
My VTC Mini had the Joytech 1.02 firmware on it that delivered 60 watts. More recent firmware (the 1.20) will up the power to 75 watts.
Pioneer For You IPV D2.
It’s slightly shorter than the VTC mini however probably the smallest Temp control mod with a removable 18650 that will take a 22mm dia atomizer without overhang. I never considered purchasing this mod- it was given to me, however out of the three it’s the one I prefer to use. It just seems to have more punch in TC than the DNA40 and the VTC mini.
My only criticisms of this unit is the battery door as it doesn’t sit as flush. Some tweaking of the door resulted in a better fit. Secondly, the battery must be installed upside down, but don’t worry- it has reverse polarity protection. I know, I’ve done it and you will too. Furthermore the fire button requires a little more pressure to fire than what I would like. It has the opposite behavior of most of my other mods- the menu buttons are easier to press than than the firing button. However, if you’ve used an Innokin or are tired of having the HanaModz leaving a little round indentation on your thumb, it’s a step up.
It charges via a usb to barrel connector – so no micro usb / firmware etc. For me this isn’t a negative- no worries over a micro usb jack getting damaged. Despite the conveinence of sharing a standard smartphone USB cable, I just don’t understand WITF engineers got this great idea about putting USB micro connections on the bottom of mods. If you accidentally spill a cup of coffee, a soda, or a bottle of vape juice on the desk it’s sitting on, it’ll survive. Mine came out unscathed after getting dropped into a parts cleaning tank.
It does come with a silicone case. It’s the best external tank mod for a working class guy or gal. Out of all my mods that take external tanks, it’s the only one I would consider taking out into the shop. Aside from the aforementioned battery door peeve, its build quite rugged, but still comfortable to hold and use.
It’s a powerhouse of a small mod. 7 to 75 watts of power in watts mode and up to 60 joules in TC mode- something that Yihi likes to use- I am not going to even get into this whole Joules thing. What I will say is that it works really well- they can use dickheads as a unit of measurement for all I care. It uses the Yihi SX130 chip. If your familiar with the SX Mini M Class, the user interface is quite similar , except no cool tilt to change settings feature (“gravity sensor”) or no power settings features. It does seem like it has the most punch among the three at any power and temperature setting.
It’s not a stretch to call it a mini SX mini- An SX mini mini (SX Mini Macro, etc..I digress) – and at a quarter of the cost. If you love the SX Mini M Class (I do have one and it’s my favorite), but want something smaller, lighter, cheaper and don’t want to risk carrying an SX mini around – this is what you want. It’s a perfect companion to the SX mini. You’ll love it.
Comparably priced to the VTC mini , in the 45–70 USD range. Also like the VTC Mini, it supports nickel and titanium wire.
Vaporshark’s S Body Macro.
Holy shit this thing is small- there is no way you can make a removable 18650 any smaller than this Smallest of the three and really light. All aluminum like the aforementioned two. More good news: genuine Evolve DNA 40 board and with the large screen DNA display. It has Vaporshark’s 2 Amp charging USB board- it will charge the batteries 4X faster than the onboard charging of IPVD2 or 2X faster than VTC mini (when using a wall charger – don’t expect a computer usb output to deliver this). Like the IPV D2 it has aluminum buttons and has great tactile feel to the buttons. Like the VTC mini, it has a magnetic battery door that it fits really well.
Some negatives, however it’s really no fault to be had with the designers of this mod because there are some tradeoffs engineering it to be so small and light. Anything wider than a 19mm tank will overhang. Natilus mini’s, Subtank Nano’s, Ego Ones and GS Air tanks all work great on this. Also due to the light weight, large tanks will also make the device feel unbalanced in your hand. The battery housing does have a strap, but it’s really a tight squeeze getting any 18650 that i have in and out.
It’s priced in the upper medium price range- $99. However, it is a genuine Evolv board, which makes it the lowest price mod out there with an Evolv chip- you do get true Evolv DNA40 performance. Vaporshark isn’t charging for shipping on these either.
All three feature spring loaded 510 connections, usb charging and metal construction.
There are several other mods out there that fall into this category, however I cannot recommend them.
I stick 60TC (or any I stick product ). At 77.4 X 36 X 22mm , this is just about the size of an IPV D2. I have owned the I Stick 30, 20 and both the 10 and 20 watt minis, and not one of them impressed me. Build quality was cheap and in recent versions the build quality hasn’t improved. There is no excuse for loose fitting buttons. I was given an Istick TC40 and a 50w that were broken and after going through them, I see no value in rebuilding them or any desire to use them. At best they are nothing more than a gift of screws. I have quite a collection of broke Eleaf products in a parts bin.
Kanger Kbox/Subox mini. At 82mm, this is dimensionally close to the Evic VTC mini, however it’s an inferior device. Apparently Kanger hasn’t figured out this is the year 2015. This is the kind of product that a smoker will buy, try- and immediately go back to smoking. I have one of these- it was given to me by a coworker- he was a guy new on the scene and was talked into buying this kit. He couldn’t stand the hot vape, bought another tank and sank the 510. He’s pretty disgusted with his brief vape experience, so he wrote it off and went back to smoking- wouldn’t even let me try to fix it for him. The Evic VTC Mini and the IPV D2 (another mod given to me) are both superior devices and in in the same price range. I tapped it for a Varitube 510, played with it for a while and threw it in my Broke Ass Mods bin. At best I can rate it as nothing more than a gift of screws- absolutely nothing desirable that I find in usage- or salvage parts for projects.
HanaModz V4M, Vaporshark DNA 30/40 and Vaporshark RDNA’s. All three are even smaller than the SBody Macro, however none of these has a removable battery. In the case of the Vaporshark RDNA’s and the Hanamodz V4m, these are Lipo batteries. Really great idea- my V4M barely could last 60-75 minutes on TC at 15-18 watts of constant vaping. HanaModz replaced the Lipo (normally $25) at no cost and I saw no improvement. Vaping rule: Vapors do not let Vape Buds by LIPO mods. Period.
Cloupor Mini or any Cloupor product: If one argument can be made for why the vape industry needs to be regulated, it’s because of companies like Cloupor. After copying Hana Modz devices for a while, they came up with an original mod that was at the time the smallest 18650 removable mod out there, however had no temperature control. They are similar in size to the SBody Macro. They are also Ford Pinto’s. The company’s (ie; the Chinese shlocks who hid behind the guise of pretending to be in the manufacturing business) response was comical – “they were sorry this happened and that they were only aware of 2% of their devices exhibiting this behavior..”
Sorry, I am not going to be your quality assurance team at my expense. Besides, the dumbasses put a USB charging connection on the bottom. If you think I am being overly cruel about Cloupor, that’s because more people need to be. Any device that has the potential to cause someone harm is a device that needs to be removed from the market- as the metaphor goes “what can kill you can kill you”- something like that. Cloupor’s response was arrogant and cavalier. I have two of their products that were given to me by others. Both are in my Broke Ass Mods Box, keeping company with I sticks and Smok products.
Batteries/ Battery life
I refuse to make a comparison about batteries, however I will tell you I am currently using 2600mah Sony VTC5’s, 2800 mah MXJO’s and more recently I’ve been using some Brillipower 3100mah batteries. My only criteria I have is that all 3 of these mods will get me through a workday (that is, when I have what you would call a normal workday) without having to bring another battery along or having to charge the mods. I might give an edge to the SBody Macro’s DNA 40 chip as being the most efficient of the three as I have ran that through a 14 hour workday and 40 minutes of drive time.
Some thoughts about service and warranties
The ecig market has had explosive growth and evolution, especially in the year 2015- even beyond that of the computer hardware craze of 1995-2002. As an example, Eleaf started out the year with the IStick 20 watt – a cheap sealed battery device that unfortunately revealed its cheap ass self in poor build quality- to the current 60 watt removable 18650 TC device. I use them as an example, as they have fought to stay relevant in the madness that has gone on in this market and to do so, in the past 10 months they have developed and marketed four iterations of their entry level devices. and about 3 clean sheets of paper designs. The year also started out with the Evolv DNA40 temperature control board being the king of the hill with no competition, with Evolv equiped mods starting around 250 USD. By mid year the Yihi SX350J chip started giving Evolv competition and paired off- for maybe a month. Now both Yihi and Evolv stepped up their game (the SX350J V2 and the Evolv DNA200) as other manufactures jumped on their coattails and are pushing TC mods and high power devices in the 45-70 USD price range.
Unfortunately this rapid technology boost, competition and price warfare have made the customers who purchase these items into being the product development engineers. While some of these companies have been very receptive to feedback from the end users (and very flexible by incorporating the features and quality that users want), the product support for the devices has been poor. Secondly, a well made device shouldn’t need support. I have owned Hana Modz products and while I did get excellent support, the support shouldn’t have been needed if the device had at least some level of quality control.
Chinese mod companies are the worst. A few – I will name Joytech and Eleaf as I have witnessed it first hand- try to masqurade by pretending to have US support. There is nothing more aggrivating to me than to email one of the customer support and have some “Lucy” email me back in poor English stating that “they would like a video of the issue”- I didn’t realize that I was required to buy a fucking smart phone or a video camera if I needed service for your product. This is absolutely unacceptable, especially for someone who is new to vaping and trying their damnest to get off smoking.
I do believe that the three mods that I reviewed here- even despite my negatives- are very well made and should last quite a while. I could see them lasting a year under normal use. However if I was to choose one based solely on warranty, then I would pick the IPV D2 or the SBody Macro- you can call up and talk to a real live person. Many Pioneer For You (the manufacturer of the IPVD2 ) authorized vendors are standing behind the IPV’s at the counters. Additional both Pioneer For You and VaporShark have excellent customer email/phone support and stand behind what they are selling.
Overall , which one would I recommend?
I equally like all three of them enough that I have no desire to part with any one of them or throw them in the Broke Ass Mod Box (in other words, none of them suck), but if I was to recommend one for someone to buy- an experienced vapor or a newb looking to step up from the pens- it would be the one that I didn’t even consider and didn’t buy- it was given to me. The IPV D2. Not as charming as the Sbody or the VTC mini, but overall the most versatile (the power), most balanced (as I stated the SBody Macro feels really weird when large tanks are put on it) and the most intuative to use (no fighting with the menu like the VTC mini) and the warranty (no Lucy with bad English asking you to make a video). If the vender has an extra USB to barrel connector cable for the IPV, pick up an extra, too.
Just remember to put the battery in the right way.