Is lightweight plastic the new resin? I’m not banking on it, but the last two months has seen a massive rush in plastic vape mods, which seem to be designed for newcomers and those looking for low-priced devices that can still perform. Add the Sigelei VCIGO K3 to the growing list of inexpensive entries in the dual-18650, rubberized plastic market.
But despite the similar look and feel, these mods couldn’t be more different. On one hand you have some bare-bones, but still awesome devices like the Hugo Vaper Rader Mage. (reviewed here)On the other, you have the VCIGO K3, a rare miss from the venerable Sigelei.
In parallel with the weird and underwhelming Fuchai R7, (reviewed here) it hasn’t been a banner month for Sigelei. But let’s dive into the VCIGO K3 to see what works, what doesn’t, and what things Sigelei needs to lose forever.
Right away, you’ll notice how much more plasticky the K3 feels when compared to the Rader Mage or the equally soft-surfaced Vapor Storm Puma (review coming soon). By comparison, the K3 feels more like a child’s toy, with a smooth, but flimsy and hollow plastic frame. The rocker-style, single bar up/down control and shield-shaped fire key are equally lightweight and flexible, bending with every press or adjustment.
The press-fit 510 connection has an awful lot of play, and is able to be moved with a finger, even without an atomizer attached. This doesn’t bode well for long-term connectivity, or even the ability to survive a drop – something to consider for newcomers seeking durability.
The rear battery door attaches well, but the magnets are far too loose and forgiving to consider stowing the VCIGO K3 in a snug pocket or crowded purse. On several occasions, the door came off with barely a glancing touch. There’s no wiggle or play when it’s attached, but it strangely comes off at a moment’s notice.
That said, you’ll have to turn the K3 around to find the most disappointing feature of the mod – the 0.91-inch, ridiculously old-fashioned display. Sure, this is supposed to be a “budget,” entry-level vape mod, but for just a few dollars more, there are a WORLD of other, better designed vape mods, with impressive, informative displays.
On the K3? Well, you’ll see wattage, coil resistance and mode. If you want to see battery life – a standard addition on every mod display since the dawn of sub-ohm time – you’ll need to hold all buttons until the meter pops on the screen.
Old-fashioned is one thing, but rolling back to lesser technology just doesn’t make sense in 2018. Using the afore-mentioned Rader Mage and Puma mods as comparison points, both of those devices have more-modern displays that creatively use the available space to deliver relevant information to users, so they don’t have to hunt for it elsewhere.
Instead, Sigelei has resorted to using the same display it did on the Fuchai R7, complete with stock Chinese fonts and poor legibility. Very surprising to see the company step backwards, even if this is a supposed “bargain” vape mod.
Highlights of the VCIGO K3 Box Mod
Despite all my griping, I have to hand it to Sigelei for one thing – ambition. Because they crammed a LOT of different ideas into an antiquated mod. Nothing unfamiliar to anyone who’s purchased a mod in the last few years, of course. But since Sigelei is pushing the K3 as a “My Very First Mod” device, they could have easily stripped down the features and gone to market with a simplified experience. Instead, they went for it, and so my hat is tipped.
(I have to question the product slogan, though. “Perfect for Beginners. Great for Vapers!” makes no sense in any language.)
My hat would tip further if these features worked well. But I had several issues, in both power and temperature control modes. For starters, I was pleasantly surprised to see Sigelei limit the power output to “only” 150 watts, when so many devices in this category try – often unsuccessfully – to push to 200+ watts. Those devices almost always suffer under the weight of their delusions, failing miserably at the upper limits of their capabilities.
Sadly, the K3 is no exception. Even with dual-18650s in place, the K3 struggles to get past 100 watts without random pulsing and power spikes. It wasn’t consistent, and it didn’t prevent the mod from functioning most of the time. But for an experienced vape reviewer, it was startlingly noticeable. I imagine most of the K3’s target audience won’t even traverse 100 watts anyway, but that’s no excuse for adding poor technology onto an entry-level device.
The temperature control mode covers all the usual suspects of TC coils, along with a fiddly TCR mode and a decent selection of protection measures in place. But, for once, I kinda wish Sigelei didn’t try so hard. Maybe, as a beginner mod, they could have put more potent wattage performance in place, instead of shoehorning a finicky, underperforming TC suite instead.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of the features, but I’d be lying if I said they performed well. The usual array of jumping ohm readings, random bounces to wattage mode, and other hiccups make this one of the more erratic TC experiences I’ve had. Best to leave it alone and stick to the power at hand.
Sigelei VCIGO K3 Specs:
- Dual High-Amp 18650 Battery – Not Included
- Wattage Output Range: 10-150W
- Voltage Output Range: 1-7.5V
- Minimum Atomizer Resistance: 0.1ohm
- Temperature Range: 200-600F
- Versatile Temperature Control Module
- Supports Ni200 Nickel, Titanium, and Stainless Steel Heating Elements
- TCR Adjustments
- Lightweight Plastic Frame Construction
- Intuitive 0.91″ OLED Display
- Magnetized Battery Door Cover
- Reverse Polarity Protection
- Low Resistance Protection
- Low Battery Protection
- Overheat Protection
- Micro-USB Port
Sigelei VCIGO K3 Contents:
- 1 VCIGO V3 150W Mod
- 1 Micro-USB Cable
- Instructional Manual
I suppose I’ve already given many of my personal observations, but there are some things to consider here, both positive and negative.
First, if you’re in the market for a truly no-frills, lightweight device to keep as a steady backup, the VCIGO K3 can hold down the job. It has enough power, alongside surprisingly good battery life, to keep users at bay. No, this won’t be replacing anyone’s primary, go-to vape. But the K3 is decent enough in power mode to warrant a look.
The problem really comes in when comparing to other similar mods – not just the lightweight, plastic-framed ones I mentioned above, but also ANY vape mod with similar specs, and similar price points. Like I said earlier, mod prices have come down CONSIDERABLY, meaning less than $20 separates the $35 K3 and a much more-advanced device, with modern performance and fewer missteps.
Yeah, if you dropped the K3 at work everyday, you probably wouldn’t lose an ounce of sleep for the price. But if you think about how much more powerful and consistent a $45 SMOK device would be, you might rethink the strategy (and be a little more careful when carrying your mods).
Four years ago, there was a definite disparity between entry-level and advanced devices. Those lines have been blurred, and the need for a “beginner” vape device like the K3 is lessening by the day. Though Sigelei technically loaded this little mod for the money, there are far too many hiccups to take the VCIGO K3 too seriously as a purchase, when so many other devices can be had for a similar price.