Pardon me if I’m experiencing a bit of Deja vu. It wasn’t that long ago that I posted my original iJOY Captain PD270 review. It was a dual 20700 battery mod with a companion tank of the same name … and a few significant problems. Most notably, in how it overpromised its performance capabilities.
But today is a new day, and iJOY has earned the right for a redux. This time, the veteran vape outlet has revisited the Captain mod in a smaller, more compact 18650 format. And it paired it with a new RDTA, to boot.
At first glance, this appears to be nothing more than the original Captain box after a quick shot from a shrink ray. But has iJOY addressed the glaring issues from its bigger predecessor with the PD1865? Yes and no… let’s dive in.
Vintage Design (if “two months old” qualifies as vintage)
My hat is tipped to iJOY – they truly believe in this look. The Captain PD1865 (what happened to that last “0” iJOY?) looks identical to the PD270, right down the carbon-like stickers that wrap the device. It remains a striking design, and the smaller form factor somehow makes it a little more complete. Perhaps it’s an optical illusion, but I find the smaller box more attractive.
What isn’t surprising is that the Captain PD1865 FEELS better in the hand. With less surface area to grab, I didn’t feel as if my fingers had to grip into the device as much as I did with the PD270, and as a result, I was less conscious of accidentally peeling off the delicate carbon stickers.
Fortunately, the PD1865 also inherited many good qualities, most notably the large, clicky fire button, which is nicely recessed, yet perfectly responsive. Just like its big brother, there were no issues with pocket firing or any misfires. Just consistent hits throughout.
Likewise, the bright and clear 0.96” OLED display survived the downsizing with no ill effects, and manages to cram about as much device information as possible on its screen without being illegible. I still believe a little breathing room would improve it, but why split hairs?
Finally, the adjustment buttons and USB charging/upgrade port are identical to the PD270, and work just as well as before. Bottom line – if you enjoyed the look, feel and operation of the PD270, the Captain PD1865 will appeal to you, as well. And the more compact size might make this an even more attractive choice between the two.
So, where does it differ?
Thankfully, this section is filled with positives. Though the PD270 claimed to hit 234 watts using the included pair of 20700 batteries, our testing showed it couldn’t get anywhere near that number without firing erratically, and considering the heat it gave off, unsafely.
The Captain PD1865 uses two 18650 batteries, with a maximum limit of 225 watts – a mere nine watts fewer than its predecessor. And I’ll be cotdamned – it came a lot closer to 225 than the PD270 ever did to 234. No, it wasn’t reliable within 20 watts of that advertised total, but that’s still WAY more on-target than the 80-watt gap that befell the PD270.
I remain frustrated that the device does not work entirely as advertised, but a 20-watt discrepancy is a heck of a lot more forgivable. Besides, if you can notice a difference in vape quality between 205 and 225 watts, then perhaps a mod like the Captain PD1865 isn’t the best investment for you.
Another issue that has been “resolved” with the Captain PD1865 wasn’t really a problem at all – battery life. As you might recall from the PD270 review, I felt that device had VERY good battery performance. However, I saw no noticeable battery life benefit from using those 20700 cells, and actually saw slightly improved battery life using 18650s in a sleeve adapter.
Well, it turns out, the company’s IWEPAL chipset just seems better-suited for 18650 batteries, because the more diminutive Captain PD1865 has significantly better battery longevity than expected. On a fresh pair, I enjoyed nearly a full workday of steady – occasionally heavy – vaping, at a variety of wattages and temperatures.
Enough with the past – how does the Captain PD1865 vape?
Not that we need another comparison, but I would argue the PD1865 is a better performer than its predecessor. After coming into this review with a bit of skepticism, I found the PD1865 to work more consistently, with fewer misfires, and more stability at higher wattages.
Though it waned at the top level of its capabilities, I didn’t see any problems up until that point, and never felt any pulsing or “struggling” when increasing the power. Using my usual array of sub-ohm tanks, RTAs and RDAs, I enjoyed predictable performance throughout, with the exception of a few ultra-low ohm coils that didn’t quite heat as quickly as I’d prefer. And in those cases, a quick change of the power boost setting rectified the problem without issue.
I found the PD1865’s “sweet spot” to be between 60-85 watts, which is right in line with performance standards on similar mods in this category. In this range, it did its job without fail. Nothing spectacular, but reassuringly solid.
What surprised me was how inconsistent the PD1865’s temperature control was, when there were no issues in this department with the PD270. Supporting the usual collection of TC modes, wire types, and TCR settings, I fully expected this aspect of the test to go off without a hitch. Instead, my test model had numerous problems reading both nickel and titanium coils, and when it finally did recognize them, temperatures varied wildly, before the device threw up atomizer warnings.
What’s stranger is that using stainless steel coils presented no problems whatsoever, and the vape quality in this mode was quite enjoyable.
Not strange enough for you? When I used the “problematic” coils in TCR mode, manually entering each value, they also performed well. But the preset Ni and Ti settings simply weren’t having it. In all my experience with temperature control over the last few years, I’ve never had one work perfectly. But I’ve also never seen one work this erratically, either.
My fingers are crossed that a firmware update can rectify this sooner rather than later. I’m not sure die-hard TC vapers would be opting for the Captain 1865, regardless. But nonetheless, there is no excuse to include a mode if it isn’t up to par. Just look at Innokin, which smartly left temp control off its new Oceanus mod, rather than cramming an incomplete offering onto the board, just to have it there.
As for the 5S RDTA… (sigh)
I wanted to love the iJOY 5S RDTA, I really did. But there’s only so far my love can go – just ask my ex-girlfriends. I love vaping RDTAs because they offer the convenience of tanks, with the flavor of dripping. And iJOY mastered this with my absolute favorite all-in-one device, the iJoy RDTA Box.
So, when I found out the Captain 1865 kit included a new RDTA, I did an awkward cartwheel in my office and waited with bated breath. I should have tempered my expectations. A lot.
The 5S RDTA is an absolute mess. This seven-piece device has about four pieces too many, and complete eliminates any simplicity in favor of adding more features designed to supposedly improve performance.
Instead, the 5S looks and performs like seven different people each worked independently, then came together on deadline day, slapped the prototype together, and sent it to ‘manufacturing’ without ever firing it up.
With two airflow control rings (side and bottom), a series of slots to fasten the RDTA, and some of the loosest connections I’ve ever seen on a production tank, I’m shocked the 5S even stays together. When I first removed it from the box and took it apart, I stared at it for minutes before attempting to rebuild it.
Engineers and IKEA fans, your new favorite RDTA is here.
What’s worse is that, rather than using a more standard side-fill slot beneath the build deck, iJOY opted to put the fill port right in the center of the build deck. With the Velocity-style deck positioned so high, only longer nozzles or droppers will fit in between this space.
If every drop of e-liquid went where we aimed, this wouldn’t be an issue. But it took me a ridiculous amount of time to fill the 2.6mL tank reservoir, as I needed to wipe the deck repeatedly on every fill. I was either releasing too much juice for the small fill port to handle, or I was using e-liquid that was too viscous for the port to accommodate, creating further spillage.
Of course, all would be forgiven if it vaped well. After wicking it according to instructions, I made sure the airflow was completely closed off, contorted my body to fill the small-ish tank, wet the wicks, and got ready to vape.
The vape would have to wait. I will never claim to be a master builder, but I know my way around coil and wick. My first six (SIX!) attempts at setting up the 5S RDTA left my desk covered in e-liquid through the bottom AFC (which was closed), forcing me to re-do the process multiple times.
Once it was finally set, I finally got the 5S to vape. And you know what? It was okay. Not the flavor explosion I enjoy in my other RDTAs. Not the ease of use I get from iJOY’s own RDTA Box. But it was average.
A few dozen puffs later, it was over. That’s because in 2017, with high-wattage devices, 2.6mL of e-liquid isn’t a tremendous capacity. After wasting puddles of juice just trying to fill the 5S, I was forced to stop and refill FAR too often.
I’d do it happily, if the vape was exceptional, but the 5S was just adequate – and I have too many stronger, better-performing devices in my collection to spend much more time with this overthought, overcomplicated, downright messy RDTA.
Consider this, the Limitless Plus RDTA is WELL over a year old, and offers more flavor, better vapor, and tons of airflow, with roughly three total pieces. A seven-piece RDTA that leaks uncontrollably isn’t exactly progress.
I needed to stick with the 5S for the sake of this review, and had several moments of success. But in this case, success meant “no leaks” and not “fantastic flavor and vapor.” I’m sure there are plenty of build pros out that could get this thing to sing, but I’d rather just use my Pharaoh (review here)or Limitless Plus when I want something that works, without the migraines.
The iJOY Captain 1865 Kit comes in three versions. This one, as well as one with the Captain sub-ohm tank, and a third option with the WonderVape RDA.
After going through roughly four rolls of paper towels with both the Captain sub-ohm tank, and the 5S RDTA, I’m pretty sour on the kit altogether. If you HAVE to buy a kit, I’d recommend opting for the Wondervape RDA, (available at Element Vape for just $26.95) and shooting me an email to let me know how it goes. Because there’s no way I’ll recommend either of these other leaky, underperforming atomizers.
Taken on its own the iJOY Captain PD1865 is a solid, palm-friendly, appropriately priced box mod, with more than enough power and capability to satisfy sub-ohm newcomers and experienced vapers looking for a no-fuss backup.
The temperature control quirks were disconcerting, but I’m confident a firmware upgrade will right the ship. In wattage mode, the PD1865 does its job well – especially notable after the 20700 version had some potentially dangerous flaws.
iJoy Captain PD1865 Kit Scores
Seriously, skip this kit and put the money toward an RDTA that doesn’t require advanced physics to operate…
iJOY Captain PD1865 Mod: B-
iJOY 5S RDTA: D-
Overall Kit: C-
iJoy Captain PD1865 Full Kit Features, Specs, and Package Contents
iJOY Captain PD1865 Mod Specs:
- Dual High-Amp 18650 Battery
- Maximum Wattage Output: 220W
- Minimum Atomizer Resistance: 0.06ohm
- Temperature Control Range: 200-600F
- Ni200 Nickel, Titanium, and Stainless-Steel Compatibility
- Short Circuit Protection
- Overcurrent Protection
- Overvoltage Protection
- Overcharge Protection
- PTC Protective Circuits
- MicroUSB Port
- Spring-Loaded Stainless Steel 510 Connection
iJOY RDTA 5S Specs:
- 24mm Diameter
- 2.6mL Juice Capacity
- Stainless Steel Construction
- Pyrex Glass Reinforcement
- Two-Post, Dual Terminal Deck
- 2.5mm Diameter Terminal Posts
- Top and Side Secured via Hardened Screws
- PEEK-Insulated Positive Post
- Central Refill Port
- Dynamic Dual Airflow System
- Bottom Airflow Control – Dual Wide Air slots
- Side Airflow Control – Five Air slots on Each Side
- Adjustable Gold-Plated 510 Connection
iJOY Captain PD1865 Kit Contents:
- 1x iJOY Captain PD1865 225W Box Mod
- 1x iJOY 5S RDTA
- 1x USB Cable
- Spare Parts & O-Rings
- Instruction Manual