Last Updated on March 29, 2016 by

Did Aspire Misfire? The Aspire ESP 30 Box Mod Review

I think the only other person in our business (publications in the vape community) that was as excited about the Aspire ESP 30 Box Mod release was, maybe, Smokenjoey. Both Joey and I got a, albeit brief, first hand look at Aspire’s first box mod while in Tampa for the VCC. Now that its here, now that I’ve used it for this review, I have to say I am disappointed. I have no idea what Joey thinks, hopefully we’ll have his review soon and perhaps his review may provide balance to my own.

First, lets go over the official specs for the Aspire ESP, and then I’ll go over my experience with it.

Features and Specs:

  • Dimensions: 3-3/4″ x 1-5/8″ x 1″
  • 510 Threaded
  • Variable Wattage: 5W to 30W
  • 1900mah LiPo battery
  • Self adjusting 510 connection point
  • Micro USB port for charging
  • Will fire atomizer resistances as low as 0.3Ω
  • USB Pass-through, “vape while you charge”
  • Carbon Fiber appearance
  • Minimum Resistance: 0.3ohm

Other: The display screen is located on the front side of the device. The screen displays the battery power, atomizer resistance, wattage, and voltage. Left without a tank/atomizer attached when you click the fire button you’ll see “Check Atomizer”. When the Aspire ESP battery level falls to the recharge point you’ll see “Check Battery”. Basic stuff.

The Aspire ESP functions as a pass-through device. You charge the ESP through the micro USB port located at the bottom of the device, and it does come with a USB cable. Charging the ESP you’ll see a red light showing that it is currently charging and when fully charged that red light will change to green.

$10 Off At MyVaporStore

esp 2MyVaporStore, where we purchased the Aspire ESP, is currently having a sale on the device. Enter Sale10 in the checkout and get a whopping $10 off the $49.99 price tag. I just noticed the sale when assembling my latest notes, so while my experience was less than satisfying I will say that as a $39.99 box mod it is a fair deal. Had the Aspire ESP been $39.99 all along I might have gone easier on the device than I did in my Cold Open Video.

So why am I not happy with the Aspire ESP? The box mod is very basic, that’s why. I expected more from Aspire, much more. This is a company that put forth a subohm battery, the CF (carbon fiber) Subohm battery that features long battery life, super performance all the way down to 0.2-ohm, and hefty enough to impress the vaper using it. Yea, it was basically a mechanical mod, but one built specifically for subohm tanks, and it had a built-in battery. Power and amperage of the CF Subohm was its main selling point, and we bought a lot of them because of it.

Then there is the first subohm tank, the Atlantis. Yes, they had an issue with the vicious rumor about their coil heads, but in the end they reacted by putting out an all-organic cotton coil head and all was well. Lastly, their new Atlantis Mega and Atlantis v2 are both good products. Actually, the new Atlantis v2 isn’t what I expected either, so maybe someone else is directing the company’s vision these days, or maybe they think they can make the maximum amount of profit with the minimum amount of innovation.

The 510-Connector

esp 1The 510-connector that sits atop the Aspire ESP is my biggest complaint about the box mod. Besides having the connector inside a cutout of the plastic top, it doesn’t have a tight enough tolerance between the plastic and connector. I would not be surprised to hear about eliquid slowly getting into the guts of the mod.

I’ve read several vendor sites to gather up all the specs and not one vendor mentions anything about what metal the connector uses. Is it stainless steel? Is the floating pin copper, brass, stainless steel, or what? From the looks of it, it’s a base metal of some kind, surely used to keep the cost of manufacturing it down. Even the pretty-words marketing on website leaves out any mention of the type of metal being used. Lastly, I expected some kind of airflow notch around the connector base, for tanks that could make use of it.

0.3-ohm Coils

The Aspire ESP will fire down to 0.3-ohms, making it ideal for the new Atlantis tanks and coil heads. I’m sure that’s intentional, and it’s fine, but it limits the users ability to use other tanks that offer 0.2-ohm coil heads, which seems to be the common ohms level right now in the subohm field. The Aspire ESP wants to lock you into Aspire tanks, though any tank with 0.5-ohm and above will work just fine.

1900mAh Li-Po Battery – Important

While LiPo batteries are excellent batteries, but they are not simple batteries. LiPo batteries have three main things going for them that make them a good choice for rechargeable vaporizers, and even more than conventional rechargeable battery like NiCad, or NiMH.

  • LiPo batteries are lightweight and can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • LiPo batteries have larger capacities over the others. They hold more power in a smaller footprint.
  • LiPo batteries also have high-discharge rates, so they can handle the most demanding vaporizers.

Bottom line, LiPo batteries provide high “energy storage to weight ratios” and can be formed to any shape. Having said that, there are a few down sides with LiPo batteries as well.

LiPo batteries are still moderately expensive compared to NiCad, NiMH, Li-ion, but luckily the prices are coming down. LiPo’s don’t last very long, maybe just 300-500 charge cycles (less if you don’t take care of them). If you do take LiPo’s seriously you could get many more cycles than the average user, so keep that in mind if you buy this box mod, or LiPo rechargeable batteries for other devices.

Safety issues – LiPo’s use volatile electrolytes and they can burst and/or catch fire if they are not used properly.

LiPo batteries require unique and proper care if you want to get the most out of them. Charging, discharging, and storage all affect the lifespan of any battery, but with LiPo’s they are even more important. You can destroy a LiPo with a single mistake.

The 80% Rules Applies

LiPo batteries have an important “rule” that you need to follow if you want your vaporizer to last a good long while. The 80% Rule means that you should never discharge a LiPo battery down past 80% of its capacity. The Aspire ESP 30 has a 1900mAh LiPo battery, so you should never draw more than 1520-mAh out of it. (80% x 1900). This math works for LiPo’s that still hold the full 1900mAh, as batteries age, any battery, their capacity falls a bit. Hopefully Aspire has built in enough technology into the ESP so that charging and recharging indicators line up with the 80% rule.

Okay, that’s enough battery talk to one day.

Real World Experience

 I don’t hate the Aspire ESP, I don’t even dislike it. As a $39.99 box mod it’s a good buy, at $49.99 it’s disappointing. I like the lightweight feel to it, the carbon fiber finish is smooth and sexy looking. As a backup piece I can see the allure, but I wanted more. I wanted something that could compete with high-end box mods, or even box mods from SMOK or Innokin, but it doesn’t.

Weak Pulls

While using the Aspire ESP I noticed a distinct ‘weakness’ of the device while taking a pull with a number of different tanks. Most of the tanks I used with it were equipped with 0.5-ohm coils. Because the Aspire ESP can handle coils down to 0.3-ohm I thought the performance would be exceptional. The actual performance made me feel like I had to really work at getting a proper vape from it.esp 3

It’s not easy to understand, but the closest thing to it is what I feel when I vape with a Vapor Flask that is low on battery level. When the Vapor Flask falls to under 50% capacity the vapor and flavor weaken considerably. It takes a harder pull from it to get near the vape when it’s fully charged. Unlike the ProVari, which provides the same performance all the way down the rechargeable levels, the Aspire ESP is a timid beast even when fully charged.

I tried using the ESP exclusively through the review period but I just couldn’t do it. This doesn’t happen often, and when it does its very disappointing.

Bottom Line

As a $39.99 box mod it’s a good buy as an emergency backup. Its lightweight feel makes it ideal to toss into a briefcase, backpack, or a messenger bag. The LiPo battery will keep its charge while not in use, if the battery is maintained properly, so stashing it for a rainy day is doable.

As a primary box mod there are tons of other choices in the same price category that are much better. The XPro M80, the wonderful iStick 50, and even the IPV Mini II at 70w falls into the price category. So it seems like the only reason someone would make the decision to buy an ESP is for its looks or it’s lighter than average weight. Look at this way; right now you can buy an iStick 30w for $29.99. The iStick 30w sports a 2200mAh battery, offers both variable wattage and voltage, and its footprint is smaller. The only downside to the iStick 30w is that it hits down to 0.4-ohm, so like the Aspire ESP you’ll need to use tanks with a 0.5-ohm coil.

Aspire can do much better than this. This time out it looks like Aspire is playing off its carbon fiber look, and that doesn’t work for me. How about you?

For more on the Aspire ESP watch my Cold Open video here.

John Manzione

Make sure to check out MyVaporStore for $10 off the Aspire ESP