Innokin iTaste VTR Review
During the course of 2013 I’ve reviewed, or played a part in the review, of virtually every major Innokin PV release. Each one had its merits, and its ‘issues’. By far the one that made the biggest impression on me was, and remains, the black iTaste 134. Not only does it break away from the traditional iTaste electronics, it’s the most stylish and most outlandish. And let’s face it, if you didn’t want some level of outlandishness in your PV then you’d vape with a cig-a-like, or at most, a neutral-colored eGo or Triton battery and clearomizer. To use anything ‘noticeable’ is to invite stares and the iTaste 134 brings out lots of stares from the public, and your vaping friends and family. It’s a behemoth, heavy, solid, and huge. And I love it.
Sure, the iTaste 134 doesn’t offer variable voltage, but it does offer variable power (wattage), which is all I need. I can attach any eLiquid ‘holder’ (we need a descriptive word for all these clearomizers, cartomizers and tank systems don’t we?), adjust the power and I’m vaping just as good as any other Vaper. If it was within my power (read: Budget) I would own a half-dozen black iTaste 134’s just to be sure I always owned one that was properly working, and had at least one on hand to lend to a friend when it’s time for an eJuice tasting party.
Enter the iTaste VTR
The new iTaste VTR is one of the most highly anticipated PV’s yet. The buzz for the VTR started before the release of the 134, and continues to this day. The electronics on the inside the VTR run the gamut of high-end features, more so than the 134 (well, at least the VTR offers variable voltage), and it is a finely detailed PV with lines and etching you don’t expect on most Chinese-made PV’s. There are some things about the VTR that remind you that it is a mass-produced, quickly designed and manufactured device, namely the battery clasp on the bottom. That clasp feels cheap, loose, and capable of coming off the unit if it’s closed improperly after as little as 4 or 5 times. For the most part though, it’s worth the price you’ll pay for it.
The range of the variable voltage is (the now expected) 3.0v to 6.0v. You can step through the settings with ease, and watch the display screen as you move through them. Variable Power (Wattage) goes from 3.0w to 15w, allowing for plenty of power to vape the most difficult eLiquids and/or eLiquid containers. (Still need an all-encompassing word. Thoughts anyone?) While using the iTaste 134 I stay in the ‘8-11w’ range, and as it turns out the iTaste VTR provides the best vape in that range as well. Not many people need more or less than that, and I’m always surprised to hear people complain when other devices offer a more limited range. The MVP II, which less of a range than the iTaste VTR, has plenty of voltage to power to play with.
The iTaste VTR also offers short circuit protection so it’s a decent device to taste your home built coils with, reverse battery protection for the dark nights or blurry eyes from a little too many Sam Adams, an Ohms meter, power display, nicely place vent holes, and a 10-second shut off switch to prevent people like me from drawing the biggest drag of Harvest Moon Tobacco eJuice, or Vanilla Sky Tobacco.
Some of the features are really handy for Vapers that build their own coils, including the above-mentioned short circuit protection and ohms readings. In addition, the Low Voltage Warning is one feature I really like since I’ve been trying my hand at wrapping the lowest resistance coils I can. If I go too low I don’t have to worry about the VTR blowing me to kingdom come. (Remember, less resistance means more power getting to the juice)
The display is a good size making it easy to see the ohms, volts, power, and atomizer voltage output, though I’m still waiting for a full-color display to hit the market. Not that we need one, but we also don’t need 10,000 models of e-cigarettes…we just want them.
The Full Feature List:
- Variable Voltage: Voltage can be adjusted from 3.0 ~ 6.0 in 0.1 volt increments
- Variable Wattage: Wattage can be adjusted from 3.0 ~ 15.0 in 0.5 watt increments
- Fits many 18650 batteries: See drop down options
- High compatibility 510-connector: Threads fit 510 atomizers and many Ego Clearomizers, iClear10, iClear16, iClear30 etc.
- The tank bay also fits Nova Tanks (3.5ml), Kanger ProTank – II, Kanger UniTank, Kanger ProTank
- ON/OFF battery switch
- The voltage and wattage can be adjusted with the rotational wheel, the screen displays voltage or wattage and offers intuitive
- Control over settings leading to more accurate performance.
- Short Circuit Protection. MS (root mean square)
- Reverse Battery Protection Circuit.
- Resistive Load Detection (Ohms meter)
- ON/OFF battery switch.
- LED Battery Power Display
- Low Voltage Warning
- Overtime Vaping Warning (10 second switch cutoff)
- Battery safety protection (Vent holes)
- Built-in 3-digit display (Ohms meter, Volts /Watts, Atomizer voltage output).
- Maximum Current Output: 5.0 Amperage
Quirks and Issues 101
I really can’t figure out some of the design decisions that we made by Innokin. Take the tank area for the iClear’s and various other eLiquid ‘devices’ you might want to use. The VTR was designed to allow the easy insertion and removal of their own iClear 30S, which comes with the VTR. This incredible clearomizer, which I’ll discuss more in a minute, fits perfectly in the tank bay. But other things you might want to use have a much harder time fitting in. With a little dexterity you can use a Kanger UniTank, the ProTank I and II, and even some Vivi Nova’s, but they do not fit nearly as easily as the iClear 30S. (There may be others that can be used, but these are the ones I was able to fit into the tank bay).
Was the design decision made to lock people into using the iClear 30s, or was it just necessary in order to obtain the optimum design? Personally, I have no idea but I wouldn’t doubt it. Kanger has been making huge inroads in the clearomizer market with their ProTank line, so it isn’t far-fetched to think that Innokin wanted a lock in. I have my doubts that that kind of thinking is going to work, people will either put up with the extra time it takes to fit their favorite devices or they will take a pass on the VTR. Some may go ahead and choose the iClear 30s as their exclusive atomizer, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Like John, I prefer long-wick atomizers too, and I passed on the earlier versions of the iClear 30 because of the metal drip tip that couldn’t be replaced. The new iClear 30s not only offers the most amazing atomizer I’ve seen in a long time, the metal drip tip can now be removed. You can’t use every single 510-thread drip tip with the iClear 30s, but I found that all the wooden drip tips I’ve purchased from various vendors fit really well. Many of the knuckle drip tips I’ve used simply fall of the drip tip well, out but the wooden ones seem to be made just a tad thicker so they fit into the iClear 30s like they were made to.
The new iClear 30s is an extraordinary product. It can produce vapor from a stone, so any eLiquid you use with it is going to produce more vapor that you might expect. The atomizer head looks like a muffler on a car. This dual coil atomizer burns evenly inside the ‘muffler’ post. They last a while too; I used my first one for nearly two weeks, putting through nearly 10ML of juice through it every day. Replacing the coil is simple; unscrew it from the iClear and screw a new one back on. Replacement coils run $3 apiece, and the tanks themselves come in several colors and cost for a single iClear 30s is just $14.99, a couple of bucks less than the iClear 30 just a few months ago.
The capacity of the iClear 30s is 3ML but it looks like it should hold more, maybe 4-4.5ML. It comes in various colors, costs $14.99 a pop, replacement coils are $3, and the fact that you can replace the drip tip, and fill the tank easily directly through the opening of the drip tip, the iClear 30s is an ideal companion for the VTR and a variety of other 510-capable batteries. I recently purchased 10 more iClear 30’s with 25 replacement coils, which should tell you how much I enjoy it.
At 4-4.25v or between 8-10w of the power, I found that most of the eJuice I use on a daily basis tested best. As you can see, at least in my case it doesn’t matter if I was vaping with the iTaste VTR or the MVP II, or for that matter the Joyetech/Ovale eVic, a ProVape ProVari, or a ZMAX.
The iTaste VTR and Me
Sometimes having access to any and all e Cigarettes just leads to confusion or dissatisfaction. I switch devices several times a day, out of habit. Sometimes I’ll lock myself into a device and use it for several days, but those periods are getting fewer and farther between. When I am reviewing a PV I’ll use it most of the time, but I also make it a habit to use other devices to get the feel for where I would place the device in my personal Top 10 list. When something new comes out it heads right for the top of the list and as I go forward it can lose a spot to two, or head straight to the bottom. The iTaste 134 held the top spot for a long while, and the MVP 2 only a few days. Like I said though, the only reason the iTaste 134 is used so often is because I love the look of it, and I don’t really need variable voltage.
Below are the motives for the various positions on the list that the VTR took up during the review time.
If my job was unrelated to e-Cigarettes, and I had to choose between a box-like shape for an e-cigarette or a round tube shape I would choose the tube shape every time. I am most “comfortable” with a tube shaped PV because of the years I spent smoking small tubes of tobacco wrapped in paper. For the past few weeks I’ve been picking up the large 1300mAh Vapor Zeus almost every night. At 5v I have to restrict some of my juice choices, but as a shape, balance, and vapor production/throat hit, it’s hard to beat. The least comfortable PV I’ve vaped over the past few months has to be the iTaste MVP II, though it still performed well.
The iTaste VTR feels better in my hands than the MVP II, though the MVP II has a much longer battery life. The VTR, despite it’s similar boxy shape, takes the 18650 high drain battery and will last only as long as an 18650. In addition, the VTR is heavier than just about anything else, other then the iTaste 134, but it’s tubed shape and reminds me of using a Sonic Screwdriver.
The first few days I used it a lot, learning the ropes and all. The nice thing about using various iTaste devices though is the easy learning curve. Red, green, and yellow lights, rotational wheels, and that’s about it. After a week or so the VTR usage time was reduced to about 50% of my vaping. That’s not bad considering how many devices I own. In the future the VTR will play a significant part in my vaping arsenal but it will not become my primary, or only, PV. My “most used” PV remains the iTaste 134, followed by the simple, but powerful Vapor Zeus.
Primary PV or Backup?
Does it matter if you already have a PV you love to use? Are you looking to replace the primary device or just buy a backup or one to switch with once and awhile? The price of the iTaste VTR runs between $91.00 (Koko Vapes, with coupon code) and $108 at MyVaporStore. The box contains the VTR, an iClear 30s and a manual. It does come in the same black and metal case that the iTaste 134 comes in, and it carries a significantly less price tag than the iTaste 134. So, does it make sense as a backup device or strictly as a primary device?
If you’re looking to upgrade your current PV to a new VV/VW device and the square shape of the MVP II and the VTR appeal to you then by all means the VTR makes a good choice. However, VV/VW shouldn’t be your only consideration, if it was the iTaste MVP II is a much better choice. At least twice the battery life, plenty of “variable voltage”, 3.3v – 5.0v will please 98% of Vapers, and power between 6w and 11w provides plenty of power. The MVP II carries nearly all the same features of the much more expensive VTR at a bit more than half the price. If it matters that the MVP II comes with an iClear 30 and not the 30s, well, it shouldn’t…matter.
Buying the iTaste VTR rather than the MVP II has to be based on whether or not you’re deeply vested in the hobby vaping, you’re really drawn to the design and the heaviness factor (like some photographers I know who refuse to consider a DSLR that doesn’t weigh at least 5 pounds), or you’re mixing eLiquid for resell or you’re building sophisticated coils. Other than those reasons, or similar ones I may have overlooked, the purchase of the iTaste VTR is one of vanity, or “I must own this” desire, which I understand better than you might think, and approve of actually.
Despite slightly less features, but dramatically less expensive alternatives the iTaste VTR is a feature rich PV that will serve you well. Like I’ve always said, “If you like want it, buy it”. It only has to make sense to you, no one else.
As a backup device it can be thought of in two ways. One, you build coils and need something with the widest possible range of Voltage and Power (wattage), two, you mix eLiquids for resell and you want to test your juice at high and low power and voltage settings. You might not use the VTR 100% of the time because it’s too heavy or you prefer some other shape, but It would still make sense to invest in the VTR for these reasons.
If you don’t wrap sensitive coils or mix complex eLiquids then it’s the same vanity decision as above. Maybe you just want one. Nothing wrong with that, it’s a fantastic device. In fact, if the only reason is that you think it looks great and you just want it, that’s reason enough. Do you need it? Does that even matter?
Innokin is on a roll with their iTaste line. Some of selling better than others, and some are faring better with reviewers and customers than others. The iTaste VTR is the latest PV from Innokin, with others coming down the pike at any moment. Since I can’t be there with you to show you how to use it, to let you hold it and feel the weight, or even the slightly flimsy battery clasp, I can only tell you how I feel about it after having used it for it a while. I like the VTR and I enjoy vaping with it. It can do many things well, and there is no doubt in my mind that you would enjoy thousands of happy hours vaping with it. But, the iTaste VTR is not revolutionary; it’s barely evolutionary.
If you’re in the market for a VV/WW full-featured PV that will last far longer than you need it to you can do a lot worse than the iTaste VTR.