Is the Wireless-Charging VapeMons GearBox Mod a True Evolution or Shelf Pollution?
The vaping industry, despite all the recent threats of bans and regulations (with San Francisco leading the Idiot Brigade), is bigger than ever. And with the deluge of new products released each week (mostly AIO Pod Systems), there’s a ton of bad eggs in this ever-growing batch. So, we’re used to disappointment from bad products. However, we never get used to being disappointed by GOOD products.
Now, we’re all for wireless charging, like Apple’s iPhones, and USB-C (like the YiHi SXmini G Class) and even Bluetooth (again, YiHi), but Qi-Wireless charging of 18650 cells? Hmmm….
Make no mistake, the VapeMons Gearbox is a good vape mod. But it could – and should – have been great. Some may love it (like our own Dave), and will argue I’m losing my mind. And they might have their points. But when push comes to shove, all most will remember about the Gearbox is how many opportunities were missed. Let’s look at the official line:
The Gearbox is a beautiful intersection between resin and brushed metal, incorporating a steampunk inspired adjustment knob, the advanced VM Omni Board 4.0 Chipset, and is Qi wireless charging enabled to allow for a fast and convenient way to charge the GearBox Box Mod. Molded from a zinc-aluminum alloy chassis, the GearBox houses the advanced VM OMNI Board 4.0 chipset, resulting in an ultra-rapid firing speed of 0.0012s. This responsive box mod utilizes an adjustment knob versus the traditional buttons to change the firing mode and the individual adjustments for each setting are all done on the GearBox’s knob. Behind the IML resin panel is space for a set of two high-amp 18650 batteries, sold separately, locked in place with a magnetized battery bay door. The Qi wireless charging pad is powered by a MicroUSB Cable and can achieve a charge rate of 1.5A/10W, powering the Gearbox in a convenient and easy manner.
VapeMons GearBox Specs:
- VM OMNI Board 4.0 Chipset
- Dimensions – 92mm by 55mm by 26mm
- Dual High-Amp 18650 Batteries – Sold Separately
- Wattage Output Range: 5-226W
- Voltage Output Range: 6.4-8.4V
- Resistance Range: 0.05-5.0ohm
- Super Player Mode Resistance: 0.03-5.0ohm
- TC Range: 100-300°C / 200-600°F
- Nickel, Titanium, and Stainless Steel Wire Compatibility
- Firing Speed: 0.0012s
- Power Mode
- TC Mode
- Bypass Mode
- 5 Different User Interface Options
- Zinc-Aluminum Alloy Chassis Design
- IML Resin Panel Design
- Intuitive Firing Button
- Mode Selection Dial
- Embedded LED Light Ring
- 96″” OLED Display Screen
- Wireless Charging Enabled
- Magnetized Battery Door
- Anti-Frying Design
- Short-Circuit Protection
- 10s Overtime Protection
- High Temperature Protection
- Low Battery Protection
- Weak Battery Protection
- Check Atomizer Protection
- Spring-Loaded 510 Connection
- MicroUSB Port
- Available in Silver, Gunmetal
VapeMons GearBox Contents:
- 1 GearBox 222W TC Box Mod
- 1 MicroUSB Cable
- 1 Qi-Wireless Charging Pad
Initial Impressions and Aesthetics
The first thing most people will notice about the Gearbox is the price tag, which tips the scales at an alarming $99.99. It’s been a long while since we’ve seen a $100 retail value attached to any device not showing off some “DNA” branding, but that’s what’s going on here. That said, the Gearbox definitely looks the part, with an attractive resin/metal hybrid exterior that commands a second look.
The second thing you’ll notice is the included Qi wireless charger, which allows users to forego battery swaps with some smooth (and pretty speedy) charging on the go. All in all, it worked pretty well, but it begs the question – why?
For starters, it’s alwaysbetter to replenish vape mod batteries with an external charger. Topping off from time to time is fine, but to make onboard charging of external cells a PRIMARY FEATURE? Yeah, we’ll pass. If these were internal cells designed for repeat charging, we’d get it. But it’s so much easier to just carry an extra set of batteries, rather than a wireless charger no one’s going to be able to plug in when out at a bar or movie theater.
Bottom line: The wireless nonsense is silly, unnecessary and ill-advised, in this reviewer’s eyes.
You’ll also notice the girth and heft of the device, both visually, and when handling it with a pair of 18650 cells installed. This isn’t a lightweight mod by any means, and you’d be forgiven for wondering why there aren’t larger batteries in play here.
And of course you’re going to notice the gear wheel – the inspiration for the name, no doubt – set into the top side of the Gearbox. This is the crux of the mod, with all up/down and entry inputs done here (the gear wheel depresses for mode selection and other features). We’ll dive into that in a few lines.
The display is pretty standard stuff, with the layout most closely resembling the screens on recent GeekVape devices. It’s a monochrome OLED with little visual appeal, but given the gaudy, swirly exterior, maybe it’s for the best that the Gearbox tones things down here.
I should mention that the rear battery door is held on by a pair of pretty strong magnets, but for some reason, the door still comes ajar from time to time – even when doing something as simple as placing it on a hard surface. I’m chalking this up to a random quirk and not a production issue, since my Reddit searches turned up nothing on the problem. But all the same, keep an eye on this if you take the plunge.
The rest of the Gearbox’s build quality is solid, with a firm (but oddly press-fit) 510 connection. It does its job fine, though I was a little put off by a press-fit plate on a $100 mod. Maybe it’s just me, but that reeks of corner cutting in my eyes.
Unfortunately, my impression of the wheel wasn’t a good one – there’s not nearly enough resistance on the wheel’s rotation, making it FAR too easy to make accidental wattage/temp changes, not to mention random mode changes if you’re not paying attention. In other words, every time the Gearbox is shoved into your front pocket.
A simple latch/lock mechanism would have gone a long way toward rectifying this simple problem, but that’s not on the table here, and you’ll probably find yourself wishing it was shortly after firing the Gearbox for the first time.
But, resistance aside, VapeMons has developed a responsive wheel interface, with half-watt incremental changes at every “notch” along the way. Likewise, the way the wheel depresses for content input is clicky and reassuring. If only the way the wheel stayed in place was as confidence-inducing.
Vaping the VapeMons Gearbox Mod
Remember what I wrote about having room for larger batteries? Well, you’ll find yourself wishing they were there once you start vaping the Gearbox. Because the battery performance is pretty dismal, especially when you consider there’s an OMNI chipset under the hood. Yes, the same OMNI lineage that made us fall in love with so many Vaporesso devices is at the heart of one of the Gearbox’s biggest problems.
Maybe VapeMons figured, “Hey, we’re including a wireless charger – no need for long battery duration!” But they’d be wrong. Wireless is a gimmick, and is actually more inconvenient than WIRED charging, if you really think about it. But I digress…
With a pair of freshly charged 18650s installed, the Gearbox gave me just three hours of steady performance before tapping out for the night. On some mods, this is par for the course, but given the technology behind the scenes, I was shocked by how little life I got between charges. Maybe some of this can be attributed to testing… or the wheel constantly moving inadvertently. But in reality, if that’s all it took to make the battery life suffer, then we have a bit of a problem, no?
That aside, the Gearbox’s functionality and accuracy is pretty darn good. Maybe not “Escribe-precise” but the firing time was speedy, the temp control was accurate and steady, and the power output was smooth all the way to its stated 217 watts. In other words, the Gearbox might swallow power, but it puts it out just as readily.
Just have extra batteries… or access to a USB port at all times.
– Attractive resin-look exterior
– Unique interface
– Smooth ramping power
– Wireless charging is inappropriate for removable batteries
– Battery life is abysmal
– Wheel is FAR too loose for general use
Longtime readers of this site know we hate gimmicks. So when TWO of them presented problems for the Gearbox, our minds were pretty made up from the outset of testing. While the Gearbox is unique, attractive and can put out some solid power and temp control performance, the loose wheel interface, weird wireless charging and horrendous battery life prevents us from giving this a better score. I know the vape industry can do better, and I hope it will. Personally, wireless charging does have a place in the vape industry, but not like this.