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Joyetech eVic – Game Changer?

The New Joyetech eVic Review

After several days with the new, long-awaited, hi-tech PV, the Joyetech eVic, I’m happy to report that there are many things to like about this new, and different, PV. I don’t necessarily think it’s a game changer “at the moment”, but it has potential. I have subjected the eVic to continuous use with various cartomizers, Vivi Nova’s, and even a few clearomizers (Kanger T3’s mostly) and the performance was, well, more than satisfactory. I am pleased with it, yet at the same time the eVic remains a bit of a mystery. An enigma.

Note* Julia has been kind enough to allow me the unboxing privilege as well as the use of the eVic for this review. Whether or not I’ll get one for myself has yet to be determined.

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The Joyetech eVic is an anomaly of sorts. Equipped with far more electronics and software than any previous PV, the eVic is certainly the most sophisticated product in eCigLand, but at the same time it has to be difficult to appreciate all the seemingly useless information if the prime motivation for owning an electronic cigarette is to vape eLiquids to satisfy your urge to smoke. However, if like me you consider vaping more of a hobby than some nicotine delivery system then the eVic will certainly do much to justify that belief.evickit

There are two parts to the eVic, the software inside and outside the actual device, and hardware (the actual device). Since the software suite is the more interesting aspect of the eVic I’ll begin with an overview of the software and then move on to the hardware.

Software – My Vapor Record (MVR) & Firmware Updates

Note* As a Mac user the only way I could download and install the MVR application (My Vapor Record) as well as the latest firmware update (v1.1) was through my emulation software, Parallels 7 and Windows 7. Sometime this month (January ’13) a Mac version is supposed to be released and when it is I’ll update this review to reflect the Mac experience with MVR.

Unlike other PV’s on the market the Joyetech eVic comes with a software suite that allows you to keep track of a lot of useless information. It also works as a hub for installing firmware updates. This software suite, a first for eCigarettes, gives you the ability to control many of the functions of the eVic and collect a lot of data about your usage, and is a major step toward pushing the electronic cigarette into the 21st century, despite being a product born of the 21st century. It is Chinese Hi-Tech Gadgetry at its most grandiose: cutting-edge and bloated. In the tech world we would call the software suite ‘bloatware’, but I’m not ready to do that.

While several eCigarettes are now equipped with variable voltage and variable wattage electronics on the ‘logic board’ of the device itself, the eVic is the first to add these features, and many new features and abilities, as well as the wherewithal to apply upgrades to them, to logic board of the device and through a software package from your computer. (You might want to read that again)

Overkill? Maybe. Maybe Not.

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Frankly, much of the information collected through the onboard software won’t be of any use to the average Vaper, but there are a few unique and worthwhile features to the software suite that are worth discussion.

While it would be rather easy to ridicule the eVic like many in the community are already doing (without ever using one), I’ve decided to review the device in a “light most favorable to the defendant” sort of way.

Because the eVic is radically different than anything that came before, a natural reaction would be to criticize it. I’ve seen this happen a million times before in the Mac/Apple community. When Apple made the decision to drop the floppy disk from the brand new and radically different Gumdrop-shaped iMac in 1998 the community howled in unison that it was a stupid and silly move. As it turned out that radical decision served to push the personal computer industry forward in ways people never considered. Will the eVic bring radical changes to the eCigarette industry? Maybe, maybe not, but as someone that loves technology I’m willing to give them (Joyetech) the benefit of the doubt. I’m willing to at least try to understand why they included a ‘Puff Count’ without laughing at it.

Software Features

After purchasing the eVic, but before you begin using it, you need to download and install the MVR software. (It would be a good idea to charge up the battery before doing anything) As of this writing Joyetech has also released a major firmware upgrade (v1.1) and most likely your eVic will come with v1.0 installed. Upgrading your firmware will be your next important step after installing the MVR software. Pay attention to the details for upgrading the firmware. If you’ve updated firmware on a dSLR this will appear very familiar. If you haven’t installed firmware before do so carefully. I can’t stress this enough, incorrect installation of the firmware can be a royal pain in the ass.

evicfirmware

After installing the MVR suite and updating the firmware you’re ready to begin using the software to set up your eVic. Installing the software suite first will allow you to set up the eVic ten times faster than using the menu system on the eVic itself. Most, if not all, of the initial setup can be done with the keyboard of your computer instead of using dozens of click-wheel moves and button presses.

Eventually you will enter information through the onboard menu system. That being the case…

…. To enter the menu system on the eVic you click the enter button 5 times in quick secession. You’ll have 1.5 seconds to click it 5 times. It might take you a couple of tries to get used to it, but you will. It took me a few tries at first but now it’s pretty easy to get to the menu on my first try. Patience grasshopper.

Getting used to navigating the menu and submenu will take a while. It is not that intuitive. After several days I’m still making mistakes but at least I’m getting to the submenu I want to get to faster than I was when I started out. Make no mistake; navigating is a pain in ass.

Hint: You can access and download the user manual at MyVaporStore before you buy the eVic. That might not be a bad idea because you should know what you’re getting into and if you do decide to buy one you’ll have some exposure to the menu system beforehand. It could make a difference in how fast you’re able to get used to this new way of interacting with an eCigarette.

Since you can access the user manual I won’t bother going over each and every feature of the software, but I will cover of a few of the more unique features that I think are pretty cool.

Puff Counter – Why anyone would care about a puff counter was beyond me at first. Looking deeper into it there actually is a pretty good reason why its there and properly using this feature could benefit you in ways you might not understand right now.

Example: Say you purchased a new brand of prefilled cartomizers, like JetCigs for example. Companies that sell prefilled cartos always make claims as to the number of puffs that each carto will supply. Want to test that and see how far off they are? Simple. Reset the puff counter and puff away.  While these same companies also provide a caveat with their claims, usually something along the lines of; “depending on the vaping style of the user” or some other nonsense, the puff counter feature is an excellent tool to check the amount of exaggeration. If this feature catches on in the future and just about every electronic cigarette adopts this capability it could force eCig vendors to be a bit more forthcoming about the real number of puffs in a prefilled cartomizer.

You could even apply this same sensibility to blank cartomizers. If you wanted to see how many puffs a Boge cartomizer will provide when filled with eLiquid this is a pretty cool way to do it.

But, the biggest reason to include a Puff Counter is actually kind of important.You can restrict the number of puffs you can take.  If you wanted to, oh I don’t know, allow yourself to vape 15 puffs from your eVic while you’re on break or something, you can do that with this feature. Reach your predetermined number of puffs and the eVic won’t let you take any more. Seriously. That’s not as frivolous as you might think.

Recommended Power

Several of the functions in the eVic are worth having and they make up for some of the so-called ‘useless’ features. For instance, the eVic recognizes the atomizer you have attached to it much faster than I’ve experienced before in any other device. I love the “Recommended Power” feature and found it to be very accurate for an optimum vape. This feature will recommend both voltage and wattage, and it works well. Change the wattage and the voltage recommendation changes, and vice versa. This alone, if adopted widely, will provide the vaping community with a higher quality overall vaping experience.

Power Set – With the firmware update (v1.1) you can control the variable voltage and variable wattage faster an easier than the previous version. The default setting for the wattage is 5.2w but can be changed up or down from 2w to 11w.

Temperature Warning – The eVic will display the current internal temperature, in Celsius, and it will also alert you to any spikes or increases in temperature. For the more advanced user you can set the temperature at which the eVic sets off the alarm, but unless you are an advanced user I’d leave it to the default setting for the most safety.

Atomizer Detection in Real Time – This is one of my favorites features. You can now change atomizers on the fly and the eVic will automatically detect it and show it to you in real time. Forgot which atty head you put in that red Vivi Nova tank? Pop it on the eVic and find out quickly. I like that, I like that a lot.

These are just a few of the many features of the eVic software suite. There are lots of other features I didn’t cover. I urge you to download the user manual from MyVaporStore or Joyetech and read through it. It is a fascinating look at this unique device.

evicbig

Hardware – The eVic

Software is one thing; hardware is, of course, another. The software is pretty darn good (even better when they release the Mac version) but without good hardware to match the software means very little. Luckily the eVic seems to be a solid piece of hardware and a one that promises years of usability.

MyVaporStore is offering two different eVic packages. For an amazingly low $104 you can pick up the eVic Kit, which contains the eVic body, battery (Samsung 2600mah 18650), USB cable, wall adapter, and a user manual in 16,000 languages (well, it seems like that many), as well as a booklet for keeping records of the data you can retrieve from the device. It is a complete package for a great price.

If you’re interested in simply picking up a spare body, sans the cable, adapter and battery, you can pick one up at MyVaporStore for $87. I would plan on doing just; it’s always good to have a spare around when you need one. The only PV I don’t have a spare of is my ProVari and that is simply because of the expense. If I had the money I’d have a spare. The eVic, despite all its new technology is half the cost of a ProVari mini so getting a spare body isn’t that outrageous.

Before getting to my real world experience with the eVic I need to mention one very important issue with the body. While the tolerance of the control ring isn’t as tight as I’d like (but tighter than the first shipment of eVics, or so I’ve heard) everything else has very precise and tight tolerances. The issue that could cause a problem is the flap that covers the USB connector.

This plastic flap fits flush to the surface on the control head (the black part of the body) and there is no easy way to open it. It took me a couple of minutes with the end of safety pin to get it open and had Julia not been there telling me over and over to be careful with it I would have broken off the flap. You see, when you do get the flap open you then have to be extremely careful moving it to the side in order to plug in the USB cable. It fits, but just barely. I have no doubt that there will be many reports of this flap being pulled off by accident. Instead of plastic it should have been made out of rubber, like most dSLR’s that have flaps covering up their USB connectors. A rubber flap would be a lot more flexible and breaking it off would be at least somewhat more difficult.

Sure, losing the flap isn’t going to destroy your eVic, but if you’re anything like me that missing flap is going to mar the aesthetic something awful. Getting this flap off without breaking it caused me more stress than anything else about the device.

So, where was I? Oh yes, the body.  I use two PV’s primarily, the Johnson Creek Vea (never without it) and my black ProVari mini (still want my blue one though!). As an owner of a Vea and ProVari mini the eVic feels huge. The length is 4.88-inches and adding a Vivi NOVA to the eVic brings it up to more than 8 inches tall (or long). The circumference is about the same of the ProVari and most other large-battery PV’s.

evicchart1

Without the battery it is much lighter than I thought it would be. There is practically no weight to the control panel head, which I found surprising.  With the battery inserted it felt a bit hefty, but very balanced. And although you’ve probably seen photos of people operating the eVic with one hand I can’t do it. That might be because of the advanced arthritis in my hands (that I’ve had since my teenage years), and maybe you might be able to. If you have small hands though, forget it.

The finish on the body is a nice looking, slightly brushed stainless steel. Since I am very biased toward rubberized paint jobs I would love to see the eVic come out in rubberized paint colors (as well as a mini-version), and I’m thinking that should the eVic sell as well as anticipated Joyetech will offer new models sooner rather than later, and maybe, probably, the new models will be offered in colors. Maybe even an eVic mini, now that would be nice.

The eVic can handle just about any 510-threaded atomizers and cartomizers available. I ran through the gamut of attys and cartos, even a few Kanger T3’s Julia gave me, and they all worked very well. I’m partial to the same Vivi Nova’s that Julia adores and I’m happy to say that they not only look snazzy on the eVic they provide a great vape as well. We have a review coming up soon with the Kanger T3’s so I won’t spoil it here other than to say that “wow”, the T3 and the eVic together is… splendid.

Real World

The first 24 hours with the eVic was all clumsy fingers and fiddling around with the menu system. It took time to get used to it and I’m still not 100% comfortable, but I do know the menu and the functions and I can say that getting around, especially with the 1.1 firmware update isn’t all that bad.

In all the areas where it counts, battery life, balance, vaping performance, and so on, the eVic gets a big thumbs up from me. I really like what I consider to be very consistent power coming through the eVic. It could be imaginary, but to me it just vapes very evenly, it never appears to drop out if you know what I mean. Its not easy to explain, but setting the wattage to 5.2 (the default) and vaping at 4.1 to 4.5 with a ViVi Nova equipped with the 2.8-ohm atty I get a very nice, very evenly keeled vape. It never burned, it never felt hot.

During the first 48 hours I forced myself to use just the eVic and only the eVic. I did so to see just how comfortable I was vaping with it. There is no doubt in my mind that had I had my Vea or my ProVari mini I would have grabbed one of them more often then the eVic, regardless of whether I was officially reviewing it or not. By taking away the temptation to vape with something else I was able to gage just how much I missed the other devices and how satisfied I was with vaping in general.

I’ll admit I was somewhat bothered at first by being restricted to using only the eVic mainly because of the length of it, but by the time the 48 hours were up I had gotten used to it and everything was hunky-dory. After that, well, it was a different story.

Once I knew my way around the eVic, had gotten comfortable using it, and was getting a satisfying vape I reintroduced my usual devices. Luckily I was working in the office on Monday and Tuesday (31st and the 1st) and had them on my desk, all spread out in front of me.

When I was aware of my surrounding I grabbed the eVic much more than the others. But, when I was concentrating, either reading or writing, talking on the phone, or in a conversation with someone I found myself grabbing the Vea probably 60% of the time, the Provari about 40% of the time. In other words, when I wasn’t thinking about the eVic I didn’t use it.

Of course, you really can’t make any grand assumptions about which one I preferred, although I tried to. I thought that by using the eVic for 48 hours exclusively that I might ingrain it upon my memory and work it into my usual vaping. That didn’t happen. Now, it could be because the initial 48 hours wasn’t long enough, or it could be that I just prefer the Vea, as I always have. At this point I really don’t know and the only reason I offer it up in the review is because it was an aspect of the review I thought was interesting.

Today, a short while ago, I gave the eVic back to Julia and have gone back to using the Vea and the ProVari.  But, strangely enough, I have already begun to miss the eVic. It is apparent to me that I’ve grown attached to it. This is certainly something I didn’t expect to happen.

I’ll wrap up the review by stating that there are many positives to the new eVic. If you want, or need, the amount of data the eVic can collect then by all means get one. Even if you don’t need that much information about your vaping habits or don’t really concern yourself with the output of the atomizers you use, the eVic is priced to be affordable. If you are in the market for a new PV, one that offers variable voltage and variable wattage, then the eVic is a great buy. I suspect you would grow into it rather quickly.

At $104 for the kit version it’s cheaper than the ZMAX and can do a whole lot more. It’s a solidly built device, it’s updateable through firmware upgrades, and it’s both VV and VW. The controls are easy to use once you get used to using them… all in all what’s not to like?

But, is it a must-have PV? I can’t answer that. Time will tell. I just hope the vaping community doesn’t poison the well. The eVic is the first of its kind; it is the first truly innovative eCigarette to hit the market. If we want to push forward with innovation that eVic must succeed. Imagine if people allowed the tech media and the PC zealots to influence their decision in buying that new iMac without a floppy drive. Where would we be today? So if you are intrigued with the eVic don’t let negative reactions to it influence your decision.

The Joyetech eVic is not perfect, but it’s a start down the road of true innovation and great electronic vaping devices. If it appeals to you, buy one. If nothing else it offers a great vaping experience. You are allowed to grow into the software.

My name is John Manzione and I count my puffs! See? That didn’t sound as nerdy as you thought it would, did it? Ahhh, well… oh nevermind.

John Manzione

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About The Author

All original content is written and produced for our readers by the Spinfuel Staff. The writing staff includes Julia Hartley-Barnes, Keira Hartley-Barnes, Tom McBride, Jason Little, Melanie Hendrix, and Dave Foster. Spinfuel also publishes guest contributors on occasion. All original content is protected by US copyright laws.

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