Table of Contents
Last Updated on October 24, 2017 by Team Spinfuel
I don’t know much about the United Society of Vape, except that they sound like a club I’d love to join. In my limited experience with the brand, I’ve been amazed by the US-based company’s stunning, truly original design concepts, and the USV-L 75W box mod is no exception. (Available Now at Element Vape)
This diminutive design marvel is deceptively powerful, thanks to a proven chipset, 75 watts of true power, and a simple, solid aluminum form factor that just screams “durability.” However, the USV-L also features an odd design choice that will either entice or anger customers, and which completely altered my view of the mod.
Intrigued? Let’s dive in…
Initial impressions of the USV-L mod
As mentioned above, each USV-L was manufactured from a single block of 6062 aluminum, and when you get it in your hand, you’ll realize the difference. Though small and palm-friendly, the mod just feels a little more solid and well-crafted than most mass-produced items that cross our desks.
To correct an oversight from the USV-L preview, my test model, the “Disco,” was not blue-grey, but rather jet black, perfectly emulating the look and grooved feel of a vinyl record album.
Each of the three USV-L models is available in multiple colors, but I’m thrilled the company sent us this one. Though, the Star Wars fan in me wouldn’t have minded the ornate “Force” design, either.
The 0.82-inch OLED screen and control buttons are nowhere to be found on the device, at least until you slide open a uniquely shaped door/cover that reveals the control center, as well as the single-18650 battery slot.
Despite the miniature size, the display does offer custom logos, for those who can’t get enough pixelated bitmap art in their vape experience. Here, this seems especially silly, as these logos will be hidden behind the sliding cover.
The controls and screen are very minimalist and pedestrian, which I suppose isn’t a problem considering – again – that it will spend most of its time behind an aluminum door. The display is a standard monochrome OLED, while each of the buttons is forged from the same aluminum as the frame.
One notable first impression is the ultra-sharp corners of the box itself. While the “album” grooves create a visually appealing AND grip-enhancing texture, the edges are rounded, but still narrow and sharp, leading to an uncomfortable grip with extended use.
The rest of the nondescript, elongated packaging is fairly standard stuff – USB cable, manuals and the like. However, in a really cool gesture, United Society of Vape also included a Vegas-quality die, with the company’s logo subtly used on the “1” side. Silly? Perhaps, but nonetheless, it’s a nice piece of personal branding (and a cool collectible) largely absent from this growing industry.
Operating the USV-L Mod
The USV-L is designed for vapers who want to “set it and forget it.” With the operating controls secured behind an aluminum door, it’s largely inconvenient to make adjustments on the fly. Not that the magnetized sliding cover is difficult to move, but it just seems unnecessary when we’ve all become accustomed to more available control schemes.
One BENEFIT of this design is that you run practically zero risk of having a tight pocket accidentally adjust your settings, giving you an unexpected mouthful of hot cotton. If you’re the kind of vaper who uses one tank on one setting, this might be the device you’re looking for.
But, for a device with a feature-filled chipset, this feels like a case of design gone awry, rather than offering real improvements in usability. The VO board here comes from a proven pedigree, offering 75-watts of power, and up to 572-degrees Fahrenheit in temp control modes. In our two weeks with the USV-L, we regularly maxed out the power using a number of atomizers, and never once experienced any drops in vape quality or power output.
A side note: The 18650 battery slot is unbelievably snug, likely to offset the user opening and closing the door repeatedly throughout the day. Be VERY careful to not tear your battery wrappers when installing your cells.
Navigating the VO menus is as intuitive as ever, with a clear path through all of the USV-L’s control options. The up/down controls navigate forward and backwards, while short presses of the fire key are all you need to register an input. Nothing groundbreaking, but I’m not sure it was designed to be.
Additionally, the chip’s VPC function allows users to customize draw power, while the auto temperature control feature helps newcomers make simple adjustments when learning TC vaping. (Experienced vapers might also like the simplicity offered here, for the record.) This mode includes five memory slots, to further the mod’s “set it and forget it” appeal.
To help you get started, USV included recommended settings based on desired balance of airflow, flavor and cloud production. For those who want to simplify things even further, there is the ever-present Bypass mode to draw direct power from the single 18650 battery.
Interestingly, there’s also a passthrough function, which I was concerned about, due to the all-metal frame, but I’m happy to report vaping in passthrough mode was no warmer or less comfortable than standard use – a nifty fallback option for those chained to their desks without a spare battery at the ready.
Vaping the USV-L Mod
Despite all my concern about the design and limitations in accessibility, I found myself largely enjoying my time with the USV-L mod. Though I prefer dual-battery devices for longer lifespan, the USV-L managed to offer quite a bit of longevity on one cell. Not “record-setting” longevity, mind you, but most moderate vapers will enjoy a lengthy afternoon of uninterrupted use without having to plug in or swap batteries.
Using my trusty SMOK Big Baby Beast tank, with a 0.2-ohm prebuilt coil, I was able to set my desired wattage and vape happily for hours without having to access the controls. In fact, in wattage mode, I was able to do that for most of the atomizers I tested on the USV-L, save for a few finicky RTAs that could probably use some replacement grub screws.
Temperature control was more of a problem, due to the myriad adjustments many TC vapers make during an average day. While the included TC options worked perfectly well, as expected from the VO chipset, I wasn’t aware of just how often I made adjustments in TC mode until I had to remove the sliding door from the device to do so.
I tested a number of RTAs with custom nickel and titanium coils, and found the vape quality to be extremely smooth and powerful, right up to the USV-L’s limits. I tried pushing the device past its capabilities, but the VO chip’s comprehensive protection suite ensured I kept things safe, even with the most minute dips below resistance limits.
But I also found that the sheer annoyance of sliding the door on and off made temperature control – at least the way I usually experience temperature control – unnecessarily difficult and annoying, even if the chipset was doing its job admirably. I don’t think avid TC fans are going to find anything wrong with the performance of the USV-L, just the usability.
Before long, I reverted back to wattage mode and resumed less-involved vaping for the remainder of my testing. And at this level, it worked great. The USV-L offered a no-nonsense, straightforward vape with all of the tanks and RDAs I threw its way, never balking, pulsing or struggling at the device’s limits.
Wrapping up… and the Score
This was a tough review to write, because, despite my love of the USV-L’s look, and appreciation of how well it performs, I simply found the experience to be more laborious than it needed to be. Maybe it’s more a reflection of my personal vape habits, but I don’t see any point in hiding a screen and controls, just because it makes the mod look cooler.
But, beneath that sliding aluminum speed bump lies a rock-solid vape mod, capable of delivering powerful performance in an attractive, entirely unique package. Because this is what matters most, the USV-L gets a better score than this review might indicate. I only hope the United Society of Vape revisits this design and makes a few tweaks for their next round of products.