HCigar DNA200 Box Mod Review
Vaping With Julia
$169.95 from MyVaporStore
HCigar is a name known for advanced, high quality devices. The last HCigar review I was assigned to was the 40W version made with the Evolv DNA40 board. Although the review eventually went to John because of time constraints, I do have one, and spent a great deal of time gathering up review material. John used part of that material in his review and wanted to give me writing credit for it, but I didn’t want it. In the back of my mind I hoped that the next HCigar review would come at a time that I could spent the time to use it, learn it, and write the review.
Imagine my delight when I was chosen to review the new HCigar VT200 box mod equipped with the Evolv DNA200 board.
Evolv DNA 200 Chip
The HCigar VT200 is the updated version of the original VT40 device. They share much in the way they look, though the VT200 has some slight improvements. The HCigar VT200’s Evolv DNA 200 chip set allows you to vape up to 200 watts without breaking a sweat.
Low Resistance – The HCigar VT200 can fire standard atomizers as low as 0.1 ohm. The Evolv DNA200 chip set provides a large OLED screen, giving the VT200 users easy access to all the information displayed by the board.
Temperature Control – The HCigar VT200 features Temperature Control allowing you to fire Nickel Wire (Ni200) coils for a great vape.
Because the HCigar VT200 has at its heart the Evolv DNA 200 chip set, it features a power regulated digital switch-mode DC-DC converter for personal vaporizers. The Evolv DNA 200 has a patented Wattage Control, Temperature Protection, Preheat, Step Up/Step Down Topology, Digital User Controls, OLED Screen, Onboard Buttons and Synchronous Rectification for maximum battery life with minimal heat generation. Everything in the HCigar VT200 is the most advanced technology yet for a personal vaporizer.
Features and Specs:
- Dimensions:3-1/2″ x 2-1/8″ x 1″
- Spring Loaded 510 Contact Pin
- Uses the DNA 200 Chip by Evolv
- Preheat Feature for Temp control users
- Large OLED Display
- Operating Wattage: 1.0 to 200.0 W
- Resistance Range (Standard Coil): 0.1 Ohms to 2.0 Ohms
- Resistance Range (Temperature Control Coil): 0.08 Ohms to 1.0 Ohms
- Operating Temperature Control: 200F to 600F
- 1300mAh 3S Lithium Polymer Battery
- Replacement battery packs available
- Low voltage protection
- Low resistance protection
- Short circuit protection
- High Temperature protection
- Can be charged via USB (Micro USB Cable included)
- Pass-through functionality
In The Box
- 1*VT200 body
- 1* USB Cable
- 1*User Manual
- 1*Warranty Card
- 1*Gift Box Packaging
- 1*3S LiPo 1300mAh battery
Tanks Used In This Review: Aspire Triton 2, Freemax Starre Pro, Horizon Arctic Turbo, Kanger Subtank, and the Vision MK. Both Kanthal and Nickel coil heads were used in this review.
The packaging of every HCigar device I’ve owned has always been more than impressive. Each device is delivered in a custom branded shopping-bag with rope handles. Inside the bag is the deluxe box with a slant-cut slipcover keeping the box closed and the VT200 protected. Slip the cover off, open the richly appointed box, reveals the HCigar VT200, itself slipped into a plastic protective sleeve. Lifting the side sleeve in the cutout layer containing the VT200 reveals a white USB Cable. There is a lot of pride showing for the device, and that pride is well deserved.
Removing the HCigar VT200 from the plastic sleeve reveals a box mod that instantly tells you, through visual and tactile feedback, that it is a truly magnificent and supremely built box mod.
On both wide-sides of the device are four grooved lines of a bright steel against a body made of black painted steel. These ‘racing stripe’ indentions add flare, and details to a fabulously shaped mod.
The front of the VT200, running from the top down, begins with two rows of four vent holes. Beneath the venting is the exquisitely detailed firing button of stainless steel, with a stainless steel bezel around the button. The push down effect of the fire button is sure footed, firm, with a look and feel of an expensive component. It is one of the nicest firing buttons to come along in a while.
Under the firing button is the large Evolv DNA200 OLED display. Bright, clear, and easy to read, the display tells you the amount of battery power you have left, the resistance of the coils in the atomizer, the temperature and wattage, as well as the voltage being pushed, updating in real time. Like other DNA200 boards, increasing or deceasing the settings runs beautifully, until you try to increase or decrease the wattage or temperature by more than 20 points. The only annoyance is the ramp up in speed on long adjustments. Once it passes 20 or so points the increase happens in an instant, so from going from, say, 10w to 40w you’ll see a nice manageable speed until you hit 30w and then, bam, in a blink of an eye you’re passing by the 50w setting on your way to 80, 100, 125, 200w. If that is the only complaint you can make about the DNA200 board you are gold.
Beneath the OLED display is the nicely appointed adjustment buttons, both made of the same steel as the firing button, save for the bezel on the firing button.
Beneath the adjustment buttons is the micro-USB port, and under than another set of 3 vent holes.
On the top of the HCigar VT200 sits the 510 connector. Made of brass (I had zero problems with the brass) with a fully adjustable brass PIN that allows you to use any 510-threaded tank or RDA. Two tiny screws are also on the top side of the HCigar VT200, making sure the box mod is tightly assembled.
On the bottom side of the VT200 are two sets of vent holes, 3 rows, 4 holes per row on each side of the bottom. Like the top of the VT200 sits two more screws.
The HCigar VT200 runs off a LiPo battery pack, like most other DNA200 mods, except for the Reuleaux by Jaybo and WISMEC. HCigar is making replacement LiPo packs for under $20 retail. The LiPo pack is not easily removed, but by removing the screws and disassembling the box mod you can snap out the LiPo and replace it fairly quickly.
Overall, the appearance of the HCigar VT200 is very impressive. It feels expensive, well made, and very nicely appointed. In addition to the DNA200 board, the firing button and adjustment buttons are just extremely well made and attractive.
At this point in the review if you are already knowledgeable of the Evolv DNA200 board you have enough information to know if this is the box mod you’ll want. Its performance is pretty much identical to other DNA200 devices. The differences from here on out lie with the design, the quality of the build, and whether or not it calls to you.
One of the downfalls of the VT200 in variable wattage mode is the 1300mAh LiPo. In this mode the battery charge life is not nearly as long as I’d like it to be. On a full charge with moderate vaping you’ll see about 7 to maybe 9 hours before having to charge it up. Let’s face it, a device capable of 200 watts and a low resistance level to 0.08ohms you’re not going buy this device to vape coils above 1.2-ohms. You’re more likely going to use sub-ohm tanks, which drains battery power fairly quickly. Using it with sub-ohm coils the battery life is reduced significantly.
Luckily the recharge time is short. The VT200 charges with a full 1-amp USB cable. This will fully charge the LiPo over the course of a few hours.
DNA 200 – Escribe Software
Escribe is a software package for Windows (no Mac version yet, damnit) used to configure or modify the settings of your VT200. It installs on a Windows box and connects to your VT200 using the USB port and cable.
When you connect the HCigar VT200 to the PC, press the “Connect and Download Settings” button to download the settings you have set on your box mod to the Escribe software. After you make changes you simply press the “Upload Settings to Device” to save the new settings to the device. I’ve never had the opportunity to use this software because I use Macs, but friends have and they like it. Escribe is an Evolv software app.
Two other points I’d like to mention are:
The VT200 runs off a three-cell LiPo battery. Each battery is a flat layer, all connected to form a 1300mAh LiPo.
Because lithium polymer cells don’t tolerate excessive discharging, when a multi-cell series battery is used it is important to measure each cell in the battery independently and stop firing the atomizer when any of the cells reaches the cutoff voltage. The VT200 uses the battery pack taps to monitor each cell.
While you are charging the LiPo, is critical that none of the batteries charge beyond 4.2 volts per cell. If one of the LiPo cells in the battery has more charge than the others, its voltage will be higher. During charging, the VT200 will turn on a “balancer” to charge that cell slower than the others.
By monitoring and charging each cell individually, the safety of a multi-cell pack is the same as using a single cell.
Because of my job, and only because of my job, I own several DNA40 and DNA200 devices. One thing I’ve learned is that any company that builds a mod around the DNA board is not going to manufacturer a piece of crap. I don’t own a single DNA board device that I don’t rate highly.
The physical characteristics of an Evolv DNA equipped device count for 90% of my recommendations. For instance, as much as I adore the WISMEC Reuleaux, as a DNA200 or RX TC box mod, it is not something I would recommend to people looking for a lightweight, petite size box mod.
The Reuleaux uses 3x 18650 cells, not LiPo packs, so it is much larger, and heavier, than any other DNA200 mod. That said, I love it, and I love the grip on it, and how I can swap out the 3x 18650’s instead of recharging them, but Kiera certainly doesn’t like to use a Reuleaux. At 4’ 10” and 88 pounds soaking wet, the Reuleaux is much too much box mod for her. The HCigar VT200, however, is a nice fit.
Here’s how I determined the personal value to my own vaping: I set up all the DNA200 devices I owned, placed a full tank on each of them, and set them all up on my dresser. Then I did my best to forget I was reviewing anything, and instead dove into Christmas with Kiera.
We flew back and forth to Florida in that time, but mostly hung in Boston. Getting a Christmas tree, going to a couple of parties, doing some Christmas shopping, and living our lives.
The only promise I made to myself was that my box mod would be one of the DNA200’s. When the time came to write my review, I found that I divided my time almost equally between the HCigar VT200 and the Vaporshark DNA 200. I used larger ones, like the Reuleaux, at home quite a bit but I never took it out of the house.
The Vaporshark DNA200 is a nice box mod, but it has a very boring design. It is a rectangular box, black, with basic buttons like the rest, but nothing to get too excited about. The HCigar VT200 on the other, has a much more aesthetic design to it, from the inlaid racing stripes to the slightly molded grip, it is a stylish and attractive mod that fit my lifestyle more than any of the other DNA200 mods.
Lastly, the build quality of the VT200 feels like it could take some serious punishment if it had too, but it also sparks a protective feeling. Like dreading the first scratch on a new car, I felt the same about the VT200. I treated it with more care than I did the others.
The price of all Evolv DNA box mods are higher than most people like to spend. The HCigar VT200 is $169.95 at MyVaporStore, maybe up to $10 less elsewhere, on sale. If I had to purchase my DNA 200 device, I can honestly tell you I wouldn’t own any of them. I get just as much pleasure from vaping with my ProVari Radius, or my eVic-VTC or an eLeaf iStick ‘whatever’, and $170 is too much for me to pay for a vaping instrument. Well, I did actually pay for the Radius, but, I mean, it is a ProVape, you know?
If I could afford to drop that much on one DNA200 box mod, and I really wanted a DNA200, I have to admit that it would be this one, the HCigar VT200. I believe it will last a lot longer than the others, and by making an affordable LiPo pack to replace the one in the VT200, it makes more sense, for me.
There are several DNA 200 devices on the market, and to choose the one you want will depend on the physical characteristics you’re looking for, and the quality of the build that tells you the money you’re going to spend is well-spent. For my money, it would be the VT200, but what about you? What do you think is the best DNA 200 mod on the market today? Which one is on your wish list?