The Sigelei 20W Review by Tom McBride
Tom Takes An In-Depth Look At The Sigelei 20W
I’ve been vaping with the new Sigelei 20W for more than two weeks now. Although there is much to love about this powerhouse electronic cigarette it took me a while to decide on how best to review it. Sigelei is the company behind Julia’s favorite device, the ZMAX, as well as others including the VAMO. Advanced vapers may see strands of “DNA” in this device, and for pot smokers there is now an extraordinarily high quality bong available to them. So, how do you approach a device like this?
The Wattage-Only Sigelei 20W
The Sigelei 20W is a very advanced device, the first 20W electronic cigarette to come out of China, and if there was ever a device for “pro” level vapers this is it. Having said that, the majority of our readers are mainstream vapers. That is to say, most readers have little to no interest in the ‘board’ (the SX200 chipset) that drives the unit, they just want something that works and works well. Indeed, the Sigelei 20W fits that bill, but for many it’s what I would describe as an “overkill” device.
The Sigelei 20W is, as the name indicates, a wattage-only device, like the iTaste 134, the 134Mini, and so on. Wattage vaping is becoming more and more popular among the advanced vapers, and Sigelei has taken that trend and run with it, developing a device with a feature set that many advanced users were wanting, and then some. Advanced vapers that I’ve spoken to are very happy that, at last, their wishlist is being taken seriously.
Our good friends at MyVaporStore supplied the review unit, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to use it for a while. The Sigelei 20W has an MSRP of $120, and MyVaporStore is selling it at $119.95, just for the body. Sigelei, at least for a while, is pretty much demanding that vendors stick to this price point too. For pro level vapers wanting the features this device has will find it is very much worth $120. Let’s talk briefly about why this is so.
Every other “wattage” device I’ve owned over the past two years has the ability to increase wattage settings in “half-stop” measures; moving from 7 watts to 7.5 watts, to 8 watts, to 8.5 watts, and all the way up to either 11-12 watts to even 15 watts, depending on which device you owned. The Sigelei 20W, on the other hand, moves up and down the wattage “dial” by “.1” increments.
Let me repeat that in case you’re skimming by… starting at 7 watts and moving up to 20 watts, you can move up (or down) by .1 watts, i.e., 7.0 to 7.1 to 7.2 to 7.3 and so on. Never before has there been such precision in a chip used in an electronic cigarette. Talk about finding your sweet spot, this thing will work with you until you’re blue in the face.
Another reason why the asking price of $120 is worthwhile is the display and the huge amount of information shown in that display. Looking at it for the first time might remind you of last year’s eVic, if you’ve seen one up close that is. It uses the same technology, the OLED screen, only in the Sigelei 20W the resolution, or clarity, is much sharper and slightly larger, making it very easy to read. But that’s not the half of it.
The information in the display includes the wattage setting (of course), and it’s the largest readout on the screen. Underneath is the needed voltage for the atomizer you’ve attached, the remaining battery power is on the right side of the display, and at the bottom of the display the Sigelei 20W shows you the ohms of the coil(s) you’re using (ohms meter) and the remaining battery life.
When you turn the device on the Sigelei logo shows up, fades away, and then displays the chip set, in this case the SX200 (a dead giveaway that the Sigelei 20W is made for advanced vapers), the SX200 fades and the standard readings takes it place. I should mention here that if you turn the device off by doing the 5-click thing and then back on the wattage setting stays where it was, however, removing the battery resets the board to 10 watts. This can be annoying, but I would rather have that then to spend time in the 15-watt neighborhood, and forgetfully start up again later in the same neighborhood with different atomizers where I should be starting back in the lower wattage area. Is there anything nastier than the taste of burnt coils and/or eLiquid?
Other features that show the commitment from Sigelei toward building a “next step” device include an all stainless steel exterior, ego/510 threading, short circuit protection, reverse polarity battery protection, low voltage warning, removable beauty ring, 5-click on/off, and, ah, oh yea, a Gravity Sensor System. And although I don’t often remark on the venting of most devices (and I really should), I would like to note that the 3 vent holes on the battery cap provides a nice safety net and keeps things cool enough not to have to worry about blowing up your face or hands. Of course, you still want to use an IMR 18650 battery.
Gravity Sensor System?
This feature was both the coolest feature I’ve ever used in a device and the most annoying feature I’ve ever used in a device. The gravity sensor is the way you can increase or decrease the wattage setting. A slight flick of the wrist the wattage goes up by a .1-watt, or down by one… You can also go through the menu settings by tilting the device to the left and right. This gyroscope technology is certainly a ‘head turner’ and a ‘conversation starter’, but there’s no getting around the fact that adjusting the device takes some concentration, some focus, it’s not something you want to do while engaged in other activities. After 2 weeks with it the device it has gotten easier to adjust, but I’m the type of vaper that likes the tactile feel of adjusting voltage or wattage settings. Call me old fashioned.
Sigelei likes to talk about the accuracy of the chip set in the 20W, they are so proud of it that it is displayed on the screen every time your start it up. And although I didn’t spend “a lot” of time paying with a multi-meter, I can say that of all the devices I have hooked up to the my multi-meter the thing is extremely accurate, the most accurate to date. Not perfect mind you, no device is, but it hits closer than anything I’ve played with before. In addition, in the 2-weeks that I’ve had it the wattage has been very consistent. That’s not a huge deal now, but if it is still consistent in 6-8 months then we’ll have something to talk about.
Real Time Display
I think there’s no better way to reflect the precision of a device like than to tell you that when you press the fire button the display will show you your voltage drop off, or ‘load’, in real time, as you vape. This is feature that screams precision and was one of the top reasons I thought very highly of the device.
My Real World Usage Report
Spouting off the features of a new device is one thing, but telling you about my time with it, the quality of my vape, is just as important, if not more so, than a feature set. Some of the worst devices I’ve ever owned had great feature sets, but they were built so cheaply, or had lousy quality control that they were, in essence, garbage. Here’s how my own personal experience with the Sigelei 20W went.
Because the threading it both eGo and 510 you can use whatever you want on it and get a great vape going, and that’s exactly what I’ve did for several days, everything from an RBA to the X.Jet Spider to a plain old 510 cartomizer, I used as many things as I could find. Everything worked just as I hoped they would.
Sigelei tells us that you can use a wide range of ohms, all the way down to .5 for sub-ohm vapers all the way up to 3+ ohms. I stayed in the area of 1.8ohm to 2.5ohm, most vapers stay within that range, myself included, so this is where I thought my time would be best spent. I have done ‘some’ sub-ohm vaping but building a good sub-ohm coil is, to me, a royal pain in the butt so I stayed away from it, even on my own time.
I did, however, ask a friend a mine to spend a day or two (he took the two), in order to build a couple of sub-ohm coils and vape with the 20W. He reported back great results, in the cloud chasing level, and that being able to sub-ohm vape with a protected battery device is a major factor for him and a few of his sub-ohm friends. So if you’re looking to try out sub-ohm vaping but were hesitate because of the need for unprotected batteries and mechanical mods, then you’re going to want to pick up one. UPDATE: I don’t consider myself an expert in building coils but I do have plenty of experience. After the review period was over I tried to build and vape with a .5-ohm coil in a SMOKTech UDA RBA and could not get it to work. The coil tested out at .5-ohms, so either it was the Sigelei or me. Since I did witness my friend vaping a .5 with it earlier that day it was most certainly me. But, I will say that the Sigelei might be a little finicky (is it the 5-amp limit?) with .5-ohm. I had zero problems with ‘.8-ohms’ though. I feel obligated to tell you this, in case you pick one up and can’t get a sub-ohm coil to work.
I also want to mention that the Sigelei 20W is powerful enough to use for “dry” vaping as well, as in herbs, both legal and illegal, and there are some vendors offering a “starter kit” that includes a Dry Herb Atomizer. Suffice it to say, I have zero interest in smoking dope, especially in a device like this.
Wattage Vaping And Me
I’m a big fan of wattage vaping, and have been for a while. The Innokin iTaste 134 was the device that won me over, the 134 Mini kept me there, and now the Sigelei has pretty much cemented it. The .1-incremental increase/decrease can fine-tune a vape like never before.
Battery – When we were reviewing some eLiquids and hardware from Vaporetti a couple months back we were sent a couple of the new 30amp18650 1600mAh batteries and that was what I used in the device the entire time. I got exceptional battery life for a1600mAh battery and this is definitely a combination I can highly recommend.
As I mentioned above though, the gyroscope action can be a pain to use despite the coolness factor, though the precision and accuracy make it worth the extra effort… for me.
Minutiae – If you’re currently vaping with a variable voltage device then you know how changing a single volt can dramatically change the flavor and vapor of your eLiquid. With respect to the Sigelei 20W I should tell you that with wattage vaping an increase or decrease of just .1w can be substantial. That’s not to say that if you’ve found a sweet spot for your new favorite juice to be 11.3 watts that moving to 11.4w is going to make it a lousy vape, but if 11w is close and 11.5 is too far away, then 11.3 or 11.4 can be enough of a difference to make between ‘good’ and ‘great’ taste/vapor.
USB – Like last year’s eVic the Sigelei can jack in to your computer and at some point there will be firmware updates. Sigelei (or the chip maker) has said that the chip can be upgraded all the way to 30W, though honestly I don’t see the point. (USB cable does not come with the Sigelei)
Fit N Finish – The look and feel of the Sigelei 20W is “expensive”. It feels great. The matte-finish stainless steel feels rich and solid, while the weight, though not heavy, is not feather light either. There is some heft to it, and it feels ‘right’.
I’m not so sure this is something that mainstream vapers need to save up for. It’s a damn fine device with plenty of features and it’s built to last. The chip set is accurate, even the button feels great, and the battery cap even has high-quality threads, so there’s every reason to “want” one… but need one? That depends your personal needs and personal wants, like everything else, but don’t feel like you’re missing out on a great vape if you don’t have one.
Would I Buy It? – While I am reviewing a piece of hardware I always ask myself if this is a product I would buy, right here, right now, despite the other devices I already have. While I enjoyed using it I just didn’t feel like I was getting anything I wasn’t already getting before, so dropping $120 on it would be foolish. That said, if you are in the market for a new APV and you’re a good candidate for ‘wattage-only’ vaping, then yes, it is definitely worth getting one. Every feature you could want, and then some, is there in the Sigelei 20W except for variable voltage. I know for some people that is a deal-breaker.
The biggest selling point then is not a ‘minor’ point. The fact that you can vape down to .5-ohm coils with a variable wattage device using a protected battery is not insignificant. The friend I mentioned above, and a few of his friends, are in the process of buying the Sigelei 20W for just that reason. Some of them were not fans of ‘wattage only’ vaping but after playing with a device that can move up or down at .1w, it made the point, and that point is that wattage only doesn’t stop you from finding that oh-so-sweet spot where all vapers seek to go.
Last Words – I’ve heard it called an eVic on steroids, a ZMAX 6, or other, less expensive devices. I can certainly see the external comparison to the eVic, but as far as the technology goes, this is state of the art for electronic cigarettes. This is the step in the right direction, and it’s a damn good one.
- Wide range of wattage
- Sub-Ohm Vaping
- Stainless Steel
- Excellent Display
- Accurate & Precise