ProVape Provari Radius
HotShot™ Boost – AccuSet® Technology – SubOhm 0.3 – P3 Connector
The ProVari™ Radius by ProVape was not sent to me for review. I purchased this new box mod, or rather Spinfuel did, and this review reflects my personal opinions and impressions of this device. I’ve been a ProVape fan-girl since I purchased my first ProVari™ more than 3 years ago. That device, a black ProVari™ Mini, is still among my favorite vaping instruments, and it still looks brand new. I thought you ought to know before I begin. – Julia Hartley-Barnes
Overview of ProVari™ Radius
For $199.95 the 40W ProVape ProVari™ Radius box mod has already seen some unfair criticism in the vape community. Mind you, the ProVari Radius is backordered for 1 to 2 weeks, but people are already taking pot shots at it without ever having held one, or used one. Well, I have, for more than a week now, and my Cabernet Red ProVari Radius is now officially the finest, most well-made box mod I own…and I own a lot of them.
Today, I’m going to give you an overview of the ProVari™ Radius, and then I’ll be back next week with Part Two and Three, where I will talk to you about the inner working of the great new American Box Mod, and how it has fared so far. More importantly, I’ll discuss my further testing of the device and divulge my final impressions, like you don’t know already. In the meantime, ProVape has produced a terrific video on the Radius, which I’ll post at the end of this review.
I have not yet spoken to my contacts at ProVape, so anything I say about ProVari™ Radius’s place in the dozens of mods already on the market is only my well-educated assumptions. I don’t read minds, but knowing ProVape as I do I think I have an idea about some of the answers you may be seeking.
The two main questions, and criticisms I’ve heard are these:
- Why only 40 watts?
- Why no Temperature Control?
I can’t answer those questions definitively, but I can give you my educated guess. After all, I own 4x ProVari 2.5/2.7 devices and 1x P3, and I love them all. Before the Radius, Kiera snuck behind my back and picked me up the new P3 Stealth, and let me tell you, it is a thing of beauty.
The ProVape Way
Over the past year and a half, the box mod ‘vaping instrument’ (thanks Atom Vapes, for that phrase), has seen a fast, and nearly unanimous move toward higher and higher wattage and lower and lower ohms’ resistance, as well as a massive move toward Temperature Control vaping. Hell, even the new eGo ONE’s from Joyetech now have some sort of the Temperature Control. That said, during this same time ProVape has maintained their lineup of the ProVari™, adding only color changes to the finish and the lit-up buttons. ProVari 2.5 has been around for years, and the last firmware update (2.7) maintained 20 watts but allowed for a resistance change down to 0.5-ohm, with fine results. Their newest, the P3, has been on the market for well more than a year now.
There must be a reason for this, no? ProVape™ has a huge presence in the vape community, not to mention the finest made vaporizer designed and built in the US. Surely, if they wanted to they could have moved sooner into higher wattage, lower resistances, and perhaps even Temperature Control on the ProVari™. So why didn’t they?
I believe that the brilliant people behind the ProVari™ and the ProVari™ Radius, move ‘deliberately’, making changes that are fully reasoned and supported. They do not chase the latest “thing”, nor do they lose sight of their mission statement.
ProVape is a company that takes a lot of pride in the products they produce, which is why no one in their right mind would dare criticize the ‘quality’ of a ProVari™. The company wants to produce fine electronic cigarettes. Devices that hold up against the worst you can throw at it, devices that can be used on the battlefield by soldiers, or in space by Astronauts (not that there has been a ProVari in space…yet), devices that will ALWAYS work.
Let me take you off road for a moment and give you an idea of how Chinese manufacturers work. This is not a criticism, per se, but just information that helps put the ProVape™ mindset into perspective…
A few months ago I was fortunate enough to see some first sketches drawn up by a Chinese product designer. These drawing were for a new box mod, and they were only a couple of hours old when I viewed them on Skype. I liked what I saw and I asked the woman I was talking to how long it would take to get that device on the market. Her answer was – 2 to 3 weeks. She told me that in 3 weeks’ time her company could produce 50,000 units of a device that only existed on paper at the time. And, 3 weeks later that device was out and in the hands of vendors.
Who else could do that but the Chinese? Then, on top of that, it turned out that there was a small design flaw in the device (no surprise there) and in less than 10 days that design flaw was fixed and tens of thousands of new models were manufactured and distributed. That’s fast… but, had they spent the time to fully test the mod I’m betting that design flaw would have been caught before they were mass produced and sent to market.
This kind of manufacturing is something only the huge industrial complex of China can do. They work fast, not so much accurately, and they make changes as needed just as quickly. And, with the Chinese companies, when any device has lost it’s “newness” there is a new model on the market soon after.
Remember years ago we here in the USA used the term, “Planned obsolescence?
Wikipedia: Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time. The rationale behind the strategy is to generate long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases (referred to as “shortening the replacement cycle”).
This, dear readers, is China today. This is not ProVape.
When the United States was a big manufacturer of goods it too practiced Planned Obsolescence. Automobiles were built to last 3 years, no more. TV’s, radios, stereos, you name it, they were designed to last only a limited time so that the big machine could continue to crank out newer, incrementally better products, and the economy kept on rocking. I think computers were the last to lose planned obsolescence, and that is still debatable. In the late 90’s and early 00’s I would replace my PowerBook/MacBook Pro every year. The one I own now I bought in 2013 and it still works great.
In any case, this is why we see so many new box mods, tanks, and other vape gear. By producing so much, and improving products incrementally is the only way China can continue to expand its economy. Without expansion China would crash and burn, taking down three-quarters of the world along with it.
Concluding this part of the review, I think it is safe to say that the people at ProVape aren’t interested in having you discard your ProVari every year and replace it with a new one.
The ProVari Radius Questions
Taking into account what I wrote above, it is also safe to say that ProVape is not interested in achieving an award for the highest wattage, or a device that hits the lowest resistance, or any other hyped up, unsafe vaping instrument. Instead, I believe ProVape is interested in making a device that delivers a fantastic vape experience for people that actually enjoy vaping.
ProVari’s were never ‘power competitors’, they were never the device one would buy to achieve the thickest vapor, or burn through eliquid in the speediest fashion or drain batteries the fastest. Although I have seen some mean RDA’s being pushed by a ProVari™. A ProVari™ provided a great vape, yes, but the device itself lasts for years, not months, and it never fails. Oh, and a ProVari™ was always made with the best, military-grade materials, with the tightest tolerances, regardless of the extra money it cost to produce it.
The Radius is an extension of the ProVape mindset and purpose. It is, to my thinking, the reason ProVape is calling it a ProVari™ Radius, and not just a ProVape Radius. This box mod, this amazing little device, shares many qualities of the ProVari 2.5 & P3, especially the quality of the materials and the incredible attention to detail, with more power and lower resistance. Why? Because it’s time.
So, here’s the answers to the two most often cited criticisms, albeit briefly. Remember, these are MY answers, not ProVape’.
Why Only 40 Watts?
I use a lot of devices, from 40 watts to 200 watts. But, for normal everyday vaping enjoyment I never exceed more than 33-35 watts. I use several tanks, from the Kanger Subtank with the 0.3-ohm coils, to the OBS T-VCT (John turned me on to these tanks), and I use the Aspire Triton’s a lot. All three of these tanks work extremely well with the ProVari™ Radius. When using a half-ohm coil I can’t, not even with 100% VG eliquid, take it higher than 35-36 watts. With the 0.3-ohm, and 0.4-ohm coils my sweet spots have always been under 40 watts.
While ProVape could have easily chosen 50-60 watts or even 70-75 watts, 40 watts made the most sense for the Radius. If you vape higher than 40w on a regular basis, then I would guess that a ProVari of any kind is not the type of vaping instrument you would want anyway. Word on the street is the Radius 40-watt device is producing a better experience than most 60-watt Chinese devices. That has been my experience as well. Since I am not an engineer I can’t tell you with certainty why my Radius provides a better vape experience at lower wattage than my iStick TC60W, or my eVic-VTC Mini, or any of the DNA40 devices I own, but there is no denying that it does.
Why No Temperature Control?
Here, of course, I am still just guessing. You’ve may have read in Spinfuel that most of us still do not use Temperature Control in our everyday vaping. Messing with Ni200 prebuilt coils can get complicated. Finding the right temperature for the myriad of e-liquid formulas out there is a constant stream of adjustments of the temperature system, and some of us just want to vape, not fiddle with settings all the time.
That’s not to say that Temperature Control technology isn’t a good thing, it is. Being able to avoid dry hits is a wonderful thing, but it is not a “fill and go” thing. I hate to say it, but Temperature Control systems are currently all over the place when it comes to stability, temp output, and most importantly, performance. This new technology is not yet a proven technology. Maybe in a year or two it will be a different story, but not now.
I enjoy my TC mods with regular coils, but using them with Nickel or Titanium wire takes patience, extra coil purchases of the Nickel (or Titanium) kind, and constant adjustments dependent on my particular choice of e-liquid at the time, and the power level of the battery. As the battery weakens the temperature and/or wattage has to be adjusted to maintain a decent vape experience.
For the most part I kept a tank with regular Kanthal coils on top of my TC devices, unless I am reviewing one, and then I’ll work with these Ni200 and Ti coils.
I am sure that when Temperature Control technology matures, when it can work with any coil wire, then ProVape will most probably adopt it. Until then, ProVape is keeping the experience of vaping as pleasurable and carefree as possible.
The ProVari™ Radius And The First Few Days
Unboxing the Radius was a simple matter, as it is with any ProVari™. However, this is the first time that I was required to remove a plastic tag that is attached to the battery inside the device. Blocking the current of the battery from the battery cap, this plastic tag is removed by unscrewing the two small widget-like screw wheels on the bottom of the Radius.
The two small widget-like screw wheels took more effort to remove than I would have liked, and it revealed something about the Radius that, at the time, I was unaware of.
My first thoughts upon dealing with these screws was that ProVape would rather Radius Owners recharge the device rather than replace the battery when it runs down.
I have only replaced the battery once. All the other times the Radius was recharged through my computer’s USB port. Luckily, ProVape is using the Samsung 25R 18650’s as the preinstalled battery. I own a few of them, but I used a Sony VTC4 and it worked fine.
In addition to the screw wheels there is a ‘brass cap’ that sits between the battery and the Radius that is tethered with a fine wire. In order to replace that battery, you have to lift that cap up. I have no doubt that repeated lifting up of that cap will someday cause a problem, so in my mind this proves to me that ProVape’s position is that of recharging the Radius instead of replacing the battery twice a day. Finally, even in their promotional material ProVape mentions that when the battery reaches its end of life it can be easily replaced. End of life is not the same as “end of the charge”.
Also on the bottom, above and below the wheel screws are two distinct holes for venting. I’ll get more into that in the next part of this review.
The USB port on the Radius is on the opposite side of the display, and it comes with a removable rubber gasket to cover the port. The gasket is not tethered to the device, so rather than try to keep an eye on it or to stress over it, I simply removed it and put in my jewelry box for safe keeping. Had I not done that I would have lost it by now anyway.
Charging the battery is completed faster than most of the other mods I own. Granted, all but one of my devices have removable batteries with magnetic battery covers, only the Vaporshark DNA 200 does not, but it’s a LiPo, so removing it is not an option. I’ve often attempted to recharge the batteries rather than replace them, usually in various reviews, and it always seemed to take forever to charge them. Well, except for Vaporshark devices, they charge quicker than the others, though not as quick as the Radius.
Battery life with the Radius is excellent, far beyond what I thought it would be. I would guess that it takes 5 or 6 hours to deplete the battery the way I use it, but to state for certain how long you can expect any battery device to last between charges is silly. The way you use your vaping instrument and the way I use mine are always going to be different.
That USB Cable
The USB cable I received is a plastic retractable one. I was hoping for something akin to the Vapor Flask USB cable, strong, thick woven nylon cloth exterior, strong, well built USB connectors at either end. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. I imagine before long I’ll need to replace the cable. I’m hoping the Vapor Flask cables will work because I have a few extra ones lying around. I have hope that at some point ProVape will upgrade the USB cable with something that befits a ProVari™.
Using The Radius
It is in the usage of the Radius where you will really find it to be the finest box mod on the market. The placement of the firing button, and its large circular shape is damn near perfect for my hand. While in my palm the firing button is directly in line with my thumb. There is some heft to the Radius as well, and the stainless steel looks like is was sculpted and polished to a fine finish. It’s not glossy though, it’s, well, there is no other way to say it, it looks like it was designed and built by DARPA. Very serious in design and the execution.
The Fire Button and plus/minus buttons are made of a frosted high-grade thick plastic with lighting behind them. Blue when all is well, red when the battery is weak.
Regulated Like Only ProVape Can Do
I don’t know why this technology seems to be limited only to ProVape, but the electronics in the Radius, like the entire ProVari™ line, provides the full output of power right up to the point where the device shuts down for a recharge. There is no hint at all in performance that the battery is near depleted. You’ll get the same strong pull with each drag, up till the very end. I love that about ProVape, despite it sometimes catching me off guard. Because the performance does not weaken at all as the battery power drains I will often vape in ignorant bliss until the battery shuts down. Every single time that happens my heart skips a beat because what was a perfectly satisfying vape one second, the next second I get nothing. “Ah Oh, what’s wrong?” Duh, it’s the battery, don’t worry about it… Happily, the Radius provides pass-through charging so when I work at the computer I’m plugged in, charging and vaping. Nice.
Specs at a glance
Sub-Ohm down to 0.3-ohms
3-40 Watts of accurate power
Firmware Upgradable (PC only)
I’ll go over each one in depth in parts 2 and 3. I’m already at almost 3000 words, and there is much more to say about this extraordinary box mod.
The ProVari™ Radius is not for everyone. But if you insist on the highest quality, longest lasting vaping instruments there isn’t anything better than ProVape devices.