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A new entry into Spinfuel’s Guide to Vaping – You know what I find absolutely hysterical? Imagining some big burly guy holding onto a 3 pound hunk of steel, sucking on the end of it like it was oxygen and he is standing on an alien planet, looking down on the millions of people that vape cig-a-like e-cigarettes like they were vermin just waiting to be put out of their misery. Out of his mouth and nose comes this huge pillowing cloud of vapor like a mad bull on a very cold day.
I can picture it in my head right now, “YOU ARE AN INFERIOR LIFEFORM! LEAVE THIS PLACE! YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE!”… LOL, I’m sorry, but you wouldn’t believe how many people I run into that fit this description. The gall of some of these people is unfathomable.
So the next time you’re visiting a forum looking for some basic information and you’re treated badly because you use a cig-a-like, just bring up the image described above and laugh. And be proud that you’ve ditched tobacco cigarettes and found something that keeps you off them. That’s the important part. It’s certainly not how big your e-cigarette is.
In the my article in the Spinfuel Guide To Vaping I talked about three brands for new vapers that smoked the way I smoked…vigorously. Three brands that could stand up to the abuse of long, hard pulls (drags, puffs, etc.) and the choices were rather easy; Panda Evolve, Halo G6 w/Clearomizers, and the Triple 7 (777 eCigs) Bullet.
Seeing as how the Bullet by 777 eCigs consisted of a 320mAh battery, a 1.3ML screw-on drip tip clearomizer, and a lot less money than the Panda Evolve, it was easy to see how a vigorous smoker would benefit from the Bullet. Happily, many agreed.
But, not all smokers are hard smokers. In fact, I would venture to guess that most smokers were easier on their cigarettes than I was. For them the choice of the “right” e-cigarette is a lot harder to discern. But I’ve done the homework and I know from personal experience which brands are the best and which ones a gentler smoker would be happy with. No, I haven’t used ALL of them, but the differences in most are nonexistent. They all use the same basic handful of batteries and cartomizers, and use 3 or 4 e-Liquid manufactures in China who put out awful tasting crap.
Hundreds of Choices
Sadly, and yes I mean sadly, there are hundreds of e-cigarette brands in the cig-a-like category for sale in the US and UK marketplace. The overwhelming majority of these brands suck. They are worthless trash, and even worse, they cost more money than the cig-a-like e-cigarettes that ARE worth your time and money. Every day new brands are popping up, and old brands are disappearing. The problem for new Vapers lies in the fact that more new brands are popping up then old ones disappearing.
These throwaway brands, made with the cheapest of the cheap e-cigarette batteries and e-liquids I could only best describe as “suspect”, are started by small venture capital or investment companies, or people that made some coin in the real estate market and are looking for a profitable side business, and even a few porn companies have gotten into the game. They hire a decent designer to come in and design the starter kit graphics, pay a Chinese outfit to stamp out 10,000 starter kits for under $5 a pop (with the print costs thrown in), launch a website and presto, a brand new #1 Brand is born. Such bullshit!
In The Visuals
As a visual species we like pretty things. We are visual. The con artists know this and often enough they create the most attractively designed starter kits you see, which also turn out to be some of the cheapest, foulest tasting brands on the market.
Liking pretty things is in our nature so when we see something pretty we react in a positive way. Don’t go blaming yourself if you’ve fallen for something that turned out to be garbage because it was attractive. Being able to look past the beauty of something is near impossible, and when it comes to e-cigarette starter kits the real thing is underneath the snazzy graphics.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that every attractive starter kit or battery is junk. Far from it. Take a look at the gorgeous Halo Triton and G6 battery and you’ll see what I mean. These are quality products built by people with an eye for design, so there are always exceptions.
Most e-cigarette starter kits are overpriced. Oh, who am I kidding? The cost of even the best e-cigarette starter kit is inexpensive enough to manufacture that even the best starter kits could be sold for $15 and the company would still make a profit, maybe not much of one, but still a profit. I’m not saying that the good ones are too overpriced; I’m just saying that there is a fair price and then there is the price gouging con artist pricing. See SCAM ALERTS for plenty of examples.
The White Cloud Extreme
Last year we reviewed a couple of starter kits from a company called White Cloud e-Cigarettes. The company is still around, but one thing has changed with White Cloud more than anything else…price. When we first reviewed them their starter kits were a stupid-crazy price of $299.99 and $349.99. A very educated guess would say that those starter kits cost White Cloud no more than $13 a pop. That’s how crazy things were. A few months ago White Cloud finally backed off these insane prices and now sells “better” starter kits at a third of the price. They are still too expensive and not very good (the e-liquid mostly) but at least they are much less expensive. (I do not recommend them)
The Prefilled Cartomizer
There is a lot to be said for the prefilled cartomizer. It makes vaping very easy, for one thing. For another you don’t need to worry about refilling your own blank cartomizers, or spilling e-liquid, or exposing your kids or pets to nicotine poisoning. The prefilled cartomizer was a great invention and helped launch the e-cigarette into the mainstream zeitgeist. (6 out of every 10 smokers have heard of e-cigarettes) continues.
The 3-Piece e-Cigarette
Before prefilled cartomizers there was the 3-piece e-cigarette. The first one I remember seeing, and the first one I remember being interested in using, was from a company called American Blue Tip. This company had built a certain mystique about it. Dark web pages, sultry web videos on the page, and some really good copy (I’m a sucker for good copy).
They were expensive and now they are a part of the e-cigarette history. I have no idea what happened to this company and in fact I asked John to tweet about it the other night to see if anyone knew and no one did. These guys took out full-page ads in Esquire and Playboy too, and then suddenly they’re gone.
The only 3-piece e-cigarette left on the market is ProSmoke, and they really don’t deserve to be. IMHO of course. ProSmoke uses underpowered batteries and cheap cartridges. The atomizer didn’t last near long enough. ProSmoke users pay a lot for the privilege of using outdated technology. Oh, and they taste like crap too. (I know it seems I pick on ProSmoke a lot, and I suppose I do, but when you learn the in’s and out’s of this business and see how these guys spout falsehood and falsehood on their website it just drives me nuts.)
The Brand That Would Be King
The other brand, one that has a huge market share right now, is NJOY. For my thoughts, and the other Spinfuel Staffers, on the NJOY King, read yesterday’s review.
The 3 Brands
Like the last article on the 3 brands I recommend for people that smoke like I smoked, I’m going to talk about the brands in reverse order. The first brand will be the last one I would recommend, while the last one I write about will be my #1 choice for smokers looking for a cig-a-like that they can enjoy for a long time. Having said that, keep in mind that all 3 are acceptable brands and any of them would be a fine choice. Also keep in mind that only an idiot would try to tell you not to use a cig-a-like if that’s what you find works for you. continues…
Things to remember
- There is no such thing as having to use cartomizers or e-liquids from the company that makes the e-cigarette battery. Don’t be fooled. You are either buying a 510-threaded or 808-threaded battery and there are blank cartomizers that work perfectly on them. If a company tells you that only their cartomizers will work with their battery, you know that they are not a legit e-cigarette company.
- Most batteries are made by a handful of companies in China. But there are “quality” differences. Not all batteries are the same.
- Prices vary widely. The most expensive starter kits are usually among the worst.
- These are ALL cig-a-likes. In the near future I will discuss the next step up, the “eGo” battery and beyond. Some people stay with cig-a-likes and that’s fine, but some move on, and it is just as complicated to find the right e-cigarette at the next stage as it is here.
- Most importantly, this article is already too long, so I am not going to cover all the specs of each of the starter kits I recommend. I urge you to visit all three websites and read the specs on each one.
Brand #1 (my 3rd pick, not a bad product, but there are better)
Vapor4Life – $75 & Up (too expensive by $25)
Vapor4Life didn’t enjoy our review on Spinfuel. Unfortunately they are the kind of company that if you don’t give them a 5-Star review and fall over yourself espousing the joys of using the product they don’t want anything to do with you. Well, too bad V4L, your loss not ours.
The truth about Vapor4Life is that they put out a pretty good product, albeit too expensive. Their batteries are high quality batteries, their e-Liquid is some of the best tasting, and the number of flavors I enjoyed is too numerous to talk about.
Recommended Starter Kit: Standard – $75
- 2 Vapor Titan Batteries (Auto or Manual) – 510-threaded
- 1 Slim Charger (modern looking, fast)
- 1 Carrying Case (eh!)
2 Five Packs of Cartomizers (10 cartomizers)
Vapor4Life offers 12 colors; nicotine levels range from 0mg to 36mg, and you can choose any flavors for the cartomizer packs.
They are my third choice because their starter kits are too expensive. Their cartomizers run $10.50 for a pack of 5, which is a fair price but the 2 brands below are even less, and they last the average length of about 12-14 traditional cigarettes. I could see V4L become a major player (they think they are already) if they got competitive with their starter kit pricing. Their new product, the Vapor Zeus is a 5-volt battery that is supposed to last 12 hours (doubtful) and they use an extra-large cartomizer. I haven’t reviewed it and probably won’t since they see Spinfuel as a company that won’t “play ball”.
Brand #2 (my middle of the road, you could be happy with it)
777 eCigs – $59.99
Triple 7, officially called 777 eCigs, was the company I chose as my #1 choice for hard smokers like myself. I still use the Bullet quite often, especially in public. They put out a lot of vapor.
777 eCigs also sports the ugliest packaging of any of my choices. That’s my opinion of course and it has nothing to do with the quality of their products. I like Triple 7 as a company; they are the honest, upfront people that charge a very fair price for all their products.
777 eCigs offers 42 flavors in their current line up. I have vaped every one of the 42 flavors and there is only a handful I didn’t like. From their Italian Crème to Pina Colada, there is more to like about their flavors that I have space to write about.
Recommended Starter Kit – 777 Standard Kit – $59.99
- 2 Batteries (your choice of manual / automatic)
- 10 Signature Flavor Cartridges (your choice of two flavors)
- 1 Home Adapter & Charger
- 1 Car charger for on the go
- 1 Owner’s Manual
You can select up to 2 cartridge flavors and nicotine strength in your 777 eCigs Standard Kit.
Now, before I move on, compare the 777 starter kit at $59.99 to the Vapor4Life starter kit at $75. Notice that not only do you get everything offered in the V4L kit; you also get a car charger. Vapor4Life charges $9.95 for their car charger, so dollar for dollar you’re saving $25 with the 777 starter kit.
The 777 eCigs prefilled cartomizers ($8.95 for a pack of 5) last the normal length as any other good brand, about 12-14 traditional cigarettes. But the following paragraph from 777 eCigs tells you everything you need to know about whether or not you can trust them:
The commonly asked question is how long does a cartridge last! Most eCig companies state one cartridge is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes but the truth is you will (Vape) take more puffs than smoking a conventional tobacco cigarette, so to answer the number one question how many cartridges will I use a day? If you smoke 1 1/2 – 2 packs of conventional tobacco cigarettes a day you will use between 2-3 cartridges a day, this will give you a starting point on what to expect when you order cartridges. You can also save money by refilling your 777 eCigs cartridges. All of our cartridges including our prefilled cartridges are manufactured with a soft easy to remove rubber cap for ease when refilling your cartridges, so when you order your favorite cartridge flavors make sure to also order e-liquid to refill your cartridges
You just don’t see that kind of honesty and fair pricing with other brands…
So, why isn’t 777 eCigs my #1 pick for the gentler smoker looking to switch? Well, remember what I said above, any of these 3 would do. If you don’t care about throwing away money you could go with Vapor4Life and be okay. And although I like the majority of the flavors by 777 and the pricing is terrific, the one thing about 777 that I wish would change is the finish and colors of their batteries. They are high quality, 808-threaded batteries, and they last a long time (I have a few that are a year old and still work perfectly). I rate them much higher than Vapor4Life, and maybe if their batteries were more attractive they might be the #1 choice.
I should also note that with 777 eCigs standard batteries you could use their awesome 1.3ml clearomizers and get an even better experience. But for this article we’re sticking with prefilled cartomizers.
Brand #3 – My Favorite Cig-a-Like
Halo Cigs G6 Starter Kit – $44.99
I’m choosing my #2 pick from the last article as my #1 pick for milder vapers. Halo G6 with cartomizers make the G6 the best choice for smokers looking for a solid cig-a-like experience that they can stay with for a very long time. And the price is absolutely outstanding.
The price difference between the Halo G6 and the Vapor4Life is enough to make you want to cry. Halo batteries are extremely high quality batteries that last a very long time and recharge faster than any other cig-a-like battery I’ve had. The finish and colors on these batteries are superb and the matching color cartomizers are terrific.
Recommended Starter Kit: G6 has only one starter kit.
- • 2 Batteries – 65mm and 78mm – soft-texture finish in 11 colors – auto/manual, your choice.
- • 1x USB Adapter
- •1x Wall Charger
- • 1x 5-pack of cartomizers
- • 1x gorgeous padded case
The cartomizers ($9.99 for a pack of 5) are different than the other cartomizers above. Halo Cigs is as much an e-Liquid company as it is an e-cigarette company so their cartomizers are designed to be refilled, as are the 777 eCigs cartomizers. You can even choose blank cartomizers and Low Resistance cartomizers for your starter kit and buy any Halo e-Liquid (100% American made by Halo for Halo) or use other e-liquid you choose. For your first purchase with Halo I would recommend choosing the e-liquid called “Tribeca” as your first flavor. Where you go from there is completely up to you. Once you start refilling your cartomizers, if you choose to, try their Low Resistance cartomizers for a vape that produces more vapor and a warmer vapor. It’s quite wonderful.
There are three reasons I choose Halo G6 as the highest recommended cig-a-like today; Price, batteries/cartomizers, and e-Liquids. Halo Cigs is an honest company that does not take advantage of the lack of knowledge new Vapers have coming into the vaping world. Their prices are more than fair, the quality is 100% and their e-Liquids are fantastic.
The best you can do is to ignore all the fancy come-ons from the hundreds of e-cigarettes you see and read about all day. I’ve thrown away more starter kits than I can remember, and the only three cig-a-likes I think offer a quality product are the three I’ve written about here. Unfortunately the pricing of Vapor4Life is something I cannot overlook, and neither should you. That leaves only two serious contenders, Halo and 777.
For more about how I feel about cig-a-likes take a look at a piece I wrote a few months back called “In defense of the cig-a-like”. It will help you understand why you shouldn’t allow anyone to tell you that you’re wasting your money or vaping crap. They need to get a life. Enjoy!