Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Review: Smok Guardian III Kit (A blogger gets a PIPE, hell yeah!)

At work I have quite a lot of co-workers with strong opinions on almost anything ... or anyone for that matter. I usually do quite a lot of my testing at work the reactions when I brought my new e-pipe wasn't few. Some think it's only for old men, others think it's the shit. The guy sitting next to me (long time colleague and friend I'd say) have been asking me when I'd get a pipe since I started vaping so even if he's not a vaper himself he was quite exited about this.  Actually most reactions have been positive although some think I need to change my appearance to justify having a pipe, mainly by growing a proper full beard (preferably grey or even white but I guess that'll come soon anyway) and buy a new hat like the one on the old Fisherman's Friend boxes.

Norwegians... I don't
think I need to translate
this?

Anyway, I think e-pipes are cool, so screw anyone who says otherwise. I have been looking for the right one though, as I would prefer it was regulated and kind of looking like a proper pipe. Yeah, I know, SMOK already had the Guardian II which I think looks pretty cool, but it's only 15W, which is just not enough for the builds and tanks I usually use. So when I saw the picture of the Guardian III posted by Espen at dampshop.no on Facebook, I asked him a bit about it and he offered to send me the full kit, which is the pipe paired up with a TFV4 Micro tank, for review. As you probably have understood by now, my hopes for this one was quite high, especially since I had already tried the TFV4 Mini which was pretty great to be honest. Did it meet my expectations then? Let's see... oh, almost forgot before we start. You might be wondering about the title of this review... well the reason you can see on the left. I asked Espen for a banner to go with the review and this was what I got back :)

In the box

The full Guardian III kit consist of a Guardian III e-pipe and a TFV4 Micro tank as I said. It comes in the same kind of box I'm used to from SMOK, a clean black box with their logo in silver on it. It has the usual cardboard wrap around when you get it, you know the one that's a real pain to slide off the first time (unless you just want to rip it off that is). On this cardboard wrap there's some instructions, a list of what's in the box, but most importantly, a couple of bar-codes that leads to either App Store or Google Play where you can download the "Smart BEC"-app. More on that further down. So here's the content list:
  • Guardian Pipe III Mod (75W)
  • Micro TFV4 Plus Tank
  • 0.3 Ohm Micro Fused Clapton Dual Coil (installed in the tank)
  • 0.25 Ohm Micro Stainless Steel Dual Coil
  • Replacement XL Glass Tube (for making the tank slightly less micro)
  • Tank extension adapter
  • SMOK vape band
  • eGo-USB Charging cable
  • Micro USB-USB Upgrading cable
  • Use Manual
  • Spare parts (actually I can't really find them just now, but I'm pretty sure I saw some o-rings and stuff when I opened the box, probably lost in my mess)
Specifications
Guardian Pipe III:
  • Size: 101.8x59.1x46.3 mm (How the hell do they measure that?)
  • Weight: ~119g
  • Output Power: 1W - 75W
  • Output Voltage: 0.7V - 9V
  • Resistance Range: 0.06Ω - 2.0Ω (Temp mode), 0.1Ω - 3.0Ω (Watt mode)
  • Temp. Control range: 200°F - 600°F / 100°C - 315°C
  • Material: Polycarbonite / ABS Alloy (PC/ABS) (Yeah, I don't know what that is either)
Micro TFV4 Plus:
  • Material: Glass & Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 69g
  • Dimensions: 24.5mm x 51mm
  • Treads: 510
  • Capacity: 3.5ml / 5.5ml (if you use the spare XL tank stuff)
Look and feel


Looks kind of cool with the black aromamizer
as well :)
As I said earlier, the looks of this thing has been up for discussion at work. But again, I don't care what people say, I think it looks awesome. Of course this is a matter of personal opinion, so I'll leave that up for you to decide based on a couple of pictures. It does however feel quite well built. Being made from polycarbonate it's not that heavy actually, but when you get the battery in there it's heavy enough to give it that quality feeling. Cause it does feel quite well built. The button could be a bit tighter, but the part I was a bit sceptical about before I got it was the battery lid. I don't know why but I thought it would slide in place in some way and start looking cheap after a while, but it's actually held in place by two really strong magnets and is quite a perfect fit so it doesn't look cheap at all. Happy giraffe. All in all I think it looks awesome and I am actually growing a beard and considering buying one of those hats to go with it.


In use

The box it came in doubles
as a pipe stand ...
for now :)
Button hidden by thumb
This kit can be used in a lot of different ways, you don't even need to use it as a kit of course. So I haven't really tried out all of it's features. It supports temperature control with Stainless Steel, Nickel and Titanium as well as adjusting the TCR (Temperature Coefficient of Resitance) which means you can use any wire whose resistance increases linearly and significantly as it heats (something I've never tried). I've only tested the included Stainless Steal head when it comes to temp. control. There is also an RDA head for the tank, which I of course had to order, but I haven't had the time to try that one either. Basically, if I was to test all the possible features of this kit it would take... well quite a while.

Anyway, to start things off, some words about how to operate the mod. It has got only one button, which means it is a bit slow to do changes. Basically, 5 clicks will turn the mod on, then 3 clicks will get you to the menu, 5 clicks will lock the mod. Then one click will get you to the next menu-item, and to select an item you just wait until the screen changes. This is kind of slow as I said, and I was a bit annoyed in the beginning. But... this is not the kind of mod you'd do a lot of changes too. So in less than a week I don't even mind any more. Or rather I've realized that when I'm done testing this thing I'm not going to mind it. Cause what you'd probably end up doing with this mod is that you find your favourite setting, and enjoy. Actually that is the case for most of my mods. I do adjustments of course, but that is mainly when I change tanks or coils on them (of course) and when I think about it, it's not that often. So I can easily live with that one button menu system, which makes the mod look cleaner and the button is basically hidden behind my thumb at all times.

I'm not going to go through how all the features work here. The user manual is quite good, explaining what every symbol means and how to operate the mod. It is in fact quite easy, once you understand how the one button thing works. The mod can be used in temp. control or normal watt mode, you can choose between Normal, Simple or Stealth mode on the display, it keeps track of your puffs and you can even make a puff-plan limiting the number of puffs each day (why would you do that?), and you can do adjustments to time, initial resistance, screen brightness and rotation, screensaver time and so on. You can also choose between 5 different "special draw effects"; Hard, Norm, Soft, Min or Max. I'm not quite sure exactly how this works, but I guess it has something how fast the mod gives power to the coil, so it will affect ramp-up time. I put mine to Max and was quite happy with my choice. Very configurable mod in other words... and then there is bluetooth. To be honest, I tried the Bluetooth app, and yeah, it is kind of cool to see how long your puffs are, how much you vape and adjust your power with your phone, but I turned it off pretty soon. I guess bluetooth will draw extra battery that you want to use for vaping, and to be honest the bluetooth app is kind of cool but not really that useful on a day to day basis. However, according to Espen from dampshop, it is quite handy for upgrading your software, especially for those of us who don't use windows. I haven't really tried this but I bet upgrading it from Linux will be close to impossible. The other way to do this is through a USB port in the battery compartment. I had to laugh a bit though, reading the manual specifying that the USB port is "ONLY" for software upgrades, NOT charging. You have to remove the battery to get to the USB port :) Speaking of charging, the pipe can be charged with an eGo styled charger that is supplied in the pack, but I've been using an external charger. As I said the battery lid is held in place by two strong magnets which means it's hassle free to just take the battery out and charge it.

When it comes the Micro TFV4 tank, I'm not going to go into that in detail, but it works great. Gives you lots of vapor, great flavour, and is indeed quite a good match for this mod. Good air control both on the base and the drip-tip, and easy to change coils as on the normal TFV4 tanks. You don't have that many options when it comes to coil-heads as on the big TFV4's, but you do have an RDA option, which I'm going to try out later on. The top filling is quite good and handy on these tanks as well, just sliding the top to the side and no small parts to loose. I haven't really used one long enough to see how durable this patent is but then again, I haven't seen anyone really having problems with it either (just concerns). 

To sum up a bit. In use this thing is quite simple to use in all ways. The tank is pretty standard and intuitive for people who have used a sub-ohm tank before. I mean most of them pretty much work the same way. The one button menu system is a bit slow, but who cares when it looks this cool. You will probably end up finding your favourite settings pretty quickly and keep it that way most of the time anyway.

Performance
I've tested both the normal (pre-installed) coil-head in normal watt mode and the Stainless Steel one in temp. control mode. In addition to this I've tried it with some other tanks, just to compare the power of it to a DNA200 mod.

In normal power mode, the pipe delivers what it should. When comparing it to the same wattage on a DNA200 mod it seems about the same, as long as you keep it on the MAX or Hard "power-setting". If you use any of the other setting it will seem weaker, but I guess it just takes more time until you reach the same effect.

In temp. control mode I actually had to push the button with the tank disconnected (so it says "Check atomizer") and then connect the tank again to get the "New coil" prompt. Other than that, the Stainless Steel temp. control worked fine... I guess. With the SS coil provided I could not get it above like 300°F though, even with the power-setting set to "MAX". No burnt taste though, just a little nicotine overdose from trying. Seems to give me about the same vapor as I'd get with the mod set to 75W in normal watt mode. Setting the temp. limit lower than that will limit as intended.

I have to be honest, temp. control isn't like the big thing for me. I have some temp. control mods but I usually run them in just normal watt mode.

Pros and cons
+ Looks great, and it will make you look great with the right hat or cap (and you might want to consider growing a beard)
+ Good manual, easy to use
+ Price
+ Good tank, great flavour and vapor
+ RBA option available
+ Loads of temp. control options
+ Stable power
+- Bluetooth app. Great for showing off and upgrading firmware, a bit slow and not that useful on a day to day basis really.
- A bit slow to operate
- Button rattles a bit

Conclusion
I think this is a bit of a bargain actually. (Dampshop.no has it at 949,- NOK before you put in any discount code, shipping included). It seems to be a well built, delivers the power it's supposed to, got loads of options for you to customize your vaping, and is in fact quite a bit of vaping fun. If you want a regulated e-pipe, this is indeed a great option.

I don't care what people say, this thing looks really cool. If you care a lot what other people say, this might not be for you (although with the right accessories you'll get some compliments as well), but if you don't give a shit and feel you can walk around with this pipe and be proud of being a vaper, I'd say go for it :)

Thanks to Espen at Dampshop.no for sending me this kit for review.


5 comments :

  1. Thanks for this wonderful article about vaping
    Eliquid

    ReplyDelete
  2. Keep sharing more and informative post.
    Vape Shop UK

    ReplyDelete
  3. As an ex pipe smoker I can't wait to get my hands on this. It's ordered and will hopefully be here this week

    ReplyDelete
  4. is quite a bit problematic inserting the battery is like there is not enough space inside so is better for me using the ego-style charger to do not ruin the batteri.I am using a sony vtc5A

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi I'm in the UK and I also own the guardian III it's a little bigger than I thought it would be but it's well made and feels strong in your hand. However I have found that the glass tubes are a bit fragile and I've managed to crack both of mine. Also finding it difficult to get spares.

    ReplyDelete