How New Design Thinking Is Changing the Vaping Landscape
Among the latest flurry of new vape products (mainly the box mod and atomizer segment) finding their way to the vape community we’ve noticed a sizeable shift in the number of devices that have appropriate radical design changes when compared to devices introduced in the past. It seems to me that more than a few manufacturers have been paying attention to ‘western design aesthetics’ lately. I don’t mean this in any sort of racist or bigoted way, but rather culturally. ‘Culture’ influences designs of most everything. The three latest devices in our community that fit this new shift toward western aesthetics that I want to address first are the Vaporesso Attitude 80W TC Starter Kit and Vaporesso Nebula 100W TC Starter Kit, the Innokin iTaste Kroma 75 W TC Starter Kit.
Beyond the latest device releases mentioned above, even the ever-gorgeous SMOK TFV8 tanks that were introduced months ago in the usual black or silver finishes, the Cloud Beast, Baby Beast and Big Baby, are now offered in several vibrant western color shades.
Colorful vape gear is nothing new, but today we’re seeing color ‘shades’ that we all recognize. Just look at the deep luscious Red, Blue, Green TFV8 tanks in the photos that accompany this piece, including one color of the TFV8’s that is a shade of Gold we’ve never seen before in any piece of vape gear. At last, some Chinese manufacturers are using colors we understand and appreciate.
Modern Box Mod – Design Aesthetics That Make Sense
I’m not saying that all these new devices that are coming from China will be a hit with everyone, that’s impossible. The history of mod and tank design has been either boring and conservative, or outrageous and strange. Some vapers prefer the conservative aesthetic while others enjoy the wild and outrageous design aesthetic. Below is an example of each.
Two years ago, while at a vape expo, our boss picked up his first, but not last, Vaporshark box mod, the Vaporshark DNA40. The DNA40 was the first Evolv chip to utilize temperature control, albeit only with Ni wire, or Pure Nickel. The design of this flagship Vaporshark product has not changed since the DNA40. All Vaporshark DNA flagship models have the same soft black finish, the rather plain looking rectangular body, an OLED display on the bottom of the mod and 510-connector on the top; it has remained unchanged throughout. Only the body size has increased; the Vaporshark DNA40 is 75mm x 37.7mm x 22mm while the Vaporshark DNA250 box mod is slightly larger; 89.10mm x 48.10mm x 23.90mm This box mod has always had a minimalist design that some, like John, believes it to be sleek and sexy, while others can only think ‘boring’. Vaporshark has addressed this with the recent releases of the Vaporshark SwitchBox and Hedron, both currently under review and will publish very soon.
On the other end of the scale there is the outrageous Innokin Cool Fire 2. You might remember it as the mod that looks a lot like a hand grenade. Innokin, at the time, believed in this design enough to manufacture and market it, heavily, despite the obvious weaponized design. We reviewed the Cool Fire 2 back in late December 2013. I encourage you to check out this review to see what an ex-reviewer thought of it 3+ years ago. The maximum wattage output of just 12.5W (can you believe that?) and the 18350 battery notwithstanding, this $79.99 mod was considered by many to be too dangerous to wave around in public because in a world of terrorist paranoia, someone in public with a hand grenade would freak anyone out, not to mention being accidentally shot by a cop reacting to a person in public waving around something found in the arsenal of a solider on the battlefield.
In any case, the new Vaporshark DNA250 box mod is brand new, meaning conservative design is still very much alive. The extreme designs, like the Cool Fire 2 and even the Innokin iTaste 134, (outrageous and yet beautiful) are giving way to pleasing designs like the devices mentioned above, and below.
Vaporesso and Innokin Box Mod Design Innovations
The Vaporesso Nebula and Innokin Kroma devices are currently under review (the Vaporesso Attitude is reviewed here), so I won’t discuss the operation or performance of these splendid looking starter kits, but I will talk about how their innovative designs show massive improvements over the designs of the past.
Naturally, this new aesthetic doesn’t hold for everyone. Some, like Tom and Jason for instance, prefer vape gear that isn’t flashy or even contoured. ( the new HCigar DNA250 is a bit much for them) Tom’s favorite new device is the WISMEC Reuleaux RX300, it’s boxy, heavy, and the color/finishes are subdued. Others, like myself, love the bold new designs and colors of the devices above, as well as the ultra-powerful mods like the SMOK G-Priv 220W TC Starter Kit and SMOK Alien 220W TC Starter Kits, both reviewed here, and here.
The Vaporesso Attitude (80W) and the Vaporesso Nebula (100W) box mod have sweeping contours, newly designed OLED displays, and remarkable ergonomics. Of course, design alone doesn’t begin to espouse on the new technologies used in the Attitude and Nebula. From the new Omni board, EUC drop-in coils, leak-proof tanks, and more, these fresh-faced designs surround excellent electronics on the inside. The Attitude is smaller than the Nebula, but both are good devices with marvelous tanks producing great flavor and loads of vapor. Check out the photos of the Attitude and Nebula and see how much attention to aesthetics Vaporesso has paid to their newer devices.
The Innokin iTaste Kroma (75W) box mod is an ultra-compact device with lots of style. Like the Vaporesso models above, the Kroma is powerful, uses the absolute latest in onboard chips (Aethon TC Control Chip), and with the starter kit version Innokin includes the SlipStream 2mL sub-ohm tank. Interestingly, the Innokin iTaste Kroma and the Vaporesso Attitude include an adapter that allows the user to raise the tank from its sunken position within the body, or to use any third-party tank. While I generally support including an adapter with any mod designed to sink the atomizer into the body, doing so negates one of the design elements that give the units such cutting edge design. I suppose you could say that by allowing the user to attach an atomizer in a traditional fashion they are “easing” the user into the more radical accents of the design.
Not that long ago Chinese manufacturers had a difficult time discerning what we in the US and UK (and probably many other western countries) call red, blue, green, and so forth. Many times, red turned out to be more pink than red, blue was more teal than blue, and so on. Today these off-color shades are being replaced with colors we recognize. Devices now coming out from China are vibrant, deep, and true to our sensibilities. Below is a list of colors available for the Attitude, Nebula, and Kroma.
Vaporesso Attitude Box Mod
Vaporesso Nebula Box Mod
- Metallic Grey
Innokin Kroma Box Mod
- Metallic Grey
Whether you, as a vaper, lean toward the conservatively designed box mod like the aforementioned Vaporshark DNA250, or even the SMOK 320W Marshal, or if your tastes run along the likes of the Nebula, Kroma, Attitude and the G-Priv Touchscreens, I think we can agree that modern designs show that vaporizers (and atomizers) are maturing in a positive way.
Color and the Sub-Ohm Tank
The Best Sub-Ohm Tank Just Got Better
By now, you probably know that Spinfuel VAPE consists of several writers, with just as many opinions. For me, my hunt for the best Sub-Ohm Tank ended with the SMOK TFV8. This is a spectacular tank line. The coils deliver true flavor fidelity and humongous clouds of thick vapor. The SMOK TFV8 tanks are legendary. Unless I am reviewing another tank, I am using a SMOK TFV8, period.
That’s not to say that other tanks and RDA’s, including several currently under review, from the Melo 300 from eLeaf, the REUX from WISMEC, and the ‘Spinfuel Fav’ Freemax Starre PURE, are not excellent tanks in their own right, it’s just that, as a middle-class vaper, I’d rather have a handful of identical, or at least compatible, tanks that perform best for me rather than a hodge-podge collection of tanks I have to keep track of, not to mention buy coils for each model I intend to use. Because I enjoy the SMOK TFV8 line I invest my ‘vape allowance’ in the TFV8 line.
SMOK knows they have a major hit on their hands and it took little time to introduce the much smaller TFV8 aptly named “Baby Beast”, and shortly after the baby came the TFV8 Big Baby was released. Other SMOK tanks, like the new Spirals Flavor Tank, and the older SMOK Minos, are also splendid atomizers. Clearly, SMOK knows now to build a great tank and a great box mod.
Expanding the Market Share
The SMOK TFV8 line was initially released last June (2016), in Black and Silver colors. Most tanks are released like this to give people a limited choice. But, once the Goldilocks Papa Bear, Momma Bear, and Baby Bear tanks were huge successes, where could SMOK go within the TFV8 line? The answer is, naturally, colors.
We write a lot about SMOK products because they are wonderful ‘quality’ products at modest prices. I don’t think I’ve used a SMOK device in the last 12 months that I didn’t think was awesome in most, if not all, respects. I believe that SMOKTech understands the western marketplace better than most other Chinese manufacturers of vape gear, and so when it came time to explore the possibility of releasing the TFV8 Cloud Beast, Big Baby and Baby Beast in various colors they chose those colors with the western market in mind. Well, that’s not entirely true; the TFV8 is also available in a horrid “Rainbow” finish that is reminiscent of some 5-year-old clearomizers and batteries, like the Vision Spinner. I loathe the rainbow finish, but apparently there are a lot of vapers that do not loathe the rainbow look. Except for the rainbow finish, how do the other color choices stand up? The Red, Gold, Blue, Green, and Gun Metal? Exquisite choices, and executed splendidly.
- 25.5mm Diameter – Important
- 6mL Maximum Juice Capacity
- 5.5mL Juice Capacity with T8-V8 Coil – Important
- High Grade Stainless Steel Construction
- High-Grade Glass Reinforcement
- Top-Fill Design with Hinge Lock – O-Ring creates nice seal.
- Dual Adjustable Airflow Control at Base
- Black Delrin Ultra-Wide Heat Resistant Drip Tip
- Patented Turbo Engines Coil Structure
- 0.15ohm V8-T8 Octuple Coil (6.6T) – rated for 50~260W, recommended 120~180W
- 0.2ohm V8-T6 Sextuple Coil (6.0T) – rated for 50~240W, recommended 110~150W
- 0.15ohm Q4-Q4 Quad Coil (5.0T) – rated for 50~180W, recommended 90~150W – My Favorite Coil Head
- V8 RBA (4.0T-X) – 18mm Two-Post, Dual Terminal Deck
- 510 Connection – Tom loves this RBA
I should mention here that not all colors are available in all TFV8 models, which I think is a mistake, and confusing. Briefly, The TFV8 Cloud Beast, the SMOK Sub-Ohm Tank Flagship, has all the new colors, the SMOK TFV8 Big Baby and the SMOK TFV8 Baby Beast is available in all the colors but Red and Green, (which is very sad indeed). Hopefully SMOK will see the light and release these two in all the colors.
NOTE* In a couple of weeks from now SMOK will begin shipping the new TFV12, a 6mL capacity tank that’s a whopping 28mm in diameter and features crazy duodenary coils (12 coils). We’ll review this new tank when we get them, but even this tank will not release in Red, Green or Blue, not at first anyway. The TFV12 Cloud Beast will ship in Black, Silver, Gold, and Rainbow. Which box mod will work best with such a powerful tank? I can think of several, and cannot wait to begin vaping with the TFV12.
SMOK TFV8 Sub-Ohm Tank Line – The Colors
As you can see in the photo below, all the new TFV8 tanks come with a Black Delrin wide-bore drip tip.
The SMOK TFV8 in Red
SMOK has released the TFV8 Cloud Beast in a deep, blood red finish. With its high gloss finish, when under a light source, it glimmers with unmistakable golden, or metallic “glints”.
The SMOK TFV8 in Gold
The TFV8 Cloud Beast, Baby Beast and Big Baby are offered in this new Gold color. You might have seen other tanks, or even vaporizers, in a gold color but I have to tell you this is a Gold color you haven’t seen in any piece of vape gear before. SMOK’s take on the Gold is a finish that reminds me of antique gold. The photos show a bright shiny gold, but in person the gold is darker, with tiny hints of bronze or copper. This is a gold color that I would classify as “serious gold”. If you like gold jewelry, real gold, not plated-gold, then you’ll love this color on the TFV8’s.
The SMOK TFV8 in Green
The SMOK TFV8 Cloud Beast is the one tank currently offered in Green. This ‘green’ color is another dark, deep finish you’ve not seen before in vape gear. In person, the green reminds me of the Ireland countryside, where the trees give off a deep, pure green I don’t see in the US.
The SMOK TFV8 in Blue
Blue has been seen in vape gear products for years. Most of the time the manufacturers get it wrong, but not this time. Officially this shade of Blue is ‘Titanium Blue’, and for good reason. Like the Red TFV8, this blue has properties that give off metallic glints, but the color itself is a deep, dark blue that will sell itself. The only other time I saw this shade of blue in vape gear was in my collection of SMOK ZMAX vaporizers.
The SMOK TFV8 in Gun Metal
The Gun Metal color used here in all three TFV8 tanks is also a dark color. On close inspection, you know it’s Gun Metal, but not the same shade as some of the Gun Metal batteries I’ve seen in years past. In the photos, it almost looks black, or a very dark grey, but there a Gun Metal sheen to it, and it looks somber. In person there is no mistaking the gun metal finish, but it isn’t easily translated in photos.
The Vaporesso Attitude and the Innokin Kroma are similar starter kits going after the same market. Small, powerful to a point, with a specific sub-ohm tank built for each. Both mod and tank are modestly priced and a good value. Most of all, these two starter kits are going to appeal to vapers looking for their first “good” mod, or their first “sub-ohm” experience, and the innovative and pleasing designs will help draw the attention of these potential buyers.
The Vaporesso Nebula, while the most dramatically stylized device of the three, is also the sleekest, most futuristic. It is also compatible with a single 18650 battery or a 26650 battery. Of the three devices, the Nebula would be my choice. 100W of power (with the 26650), an excellent new chip, and the ergonomic styling is more my speed. Plus, the deep red finish appeals to my taste.
These three devices, and the TFV8 Sub-Ohm Tanks are just a small sampling of the new aesthetics in vaping. Plenty more have unique, modern styling that will appeal to western vapers. The shift in aesthetics is not some fluke. The design aspect of vape gear is maturing and, in my opinion, heading in the right direction.
As for the new colors of the most successful Sub-Ohm tank ever, SMOK addresses both a new way to market the TFV8, and to provide some excitement to all those that have been enjoying the TFV8 experience, myself included. I own a few TFV8’s in the three sizes, yet when I got a hold of the red one, then the gold one, it was like seeing the TFV8 for the first time, and I immediately wanted all the colors (except Rainbow)… just like SMOK knew I would.
I would like to thank Vapor Authority for providing the SMOK TFV8 tanks for this piece. While the TFV8 colors in stock at Vapor Authority when we went to press are not all-inclusive, we’re told that in February, after the Chinese holiday, Vapor Authority will offer a wider selection of colors for the TFV8 line. Stock levels change daily among all vendors, so if they don’t have the one you want now, check back, as new stock arrives daily.
Till next time,