Sunday, June 12, 2011

Carto Deathmatch, Round 1

I've been putting together a collection of CE2-Style cartomizers to try out with my awesome KR VGo and testing them for the last couple of months. The idea of CE2 cartos has a lot of appeal.  No filler material to burn up or hassle with while loading. And, theoretically, a much cleaner and purer vaping experience.

I picked up four different types of cartomizers to start with. Three CE2 varieties from Vapor's Heaven, and the new Vortex system from Got Vapes.  The latter is something completely new.



In a standard 808 cartomizer, the atomizer is at the bottom (horizontal), or run through the center of the filler (vertical). The filler material packs the carto either on top of or all around the atomizer. Running through the middle is a plastic or paper tube. You put the juice into the filler material, then when you vape it pulls air up through the tube, which in turn wicks the juice down on to the atomizer. The resulting vapor is then sucked back up through the tube and out the top.

CE2 Cartos work in a rather ingenious way. Instead of a filler material the carto is empty. So you just pour the juice in and it holds it like a bottle. Running down inside the carto are wicks.  In a CE2, the atomizer is situated at the top of the cartridge and the wicks feed the juice into it from below.

The Vortex, on the other hand, works more like a traditional cartomizer but without the filler material. Actually it doesn't work like a traditional carto. Wait, well, sorta. We'll get into it's operation in the review on that device because it's quite neat-O.

Here's what we've got in contention for this first round:

  • CE2 Clear XL Clearomizer
  • CE2 r4 Cartomizer
  • CE2 r4 XL Cartomizer 
  • Vortex 808 Bottom Coil Clearomizer


From left to right: CE2 r4 XL, CE2 Clear XL, and the Got Vapes Vortex. 

Let's start with general impressions.  This is my first shot with this style of cartomizer system. While it's not terribly difficult, these are probably not for beginners, either. For example, filling a CE2 can be challenging without covering yourself with juice the first time you try it. Gah!  And the plastic ones will break if you stick 'em in your pocket, which results in juice running down your leg. Oops.

That sounds rude and nasty. Hmmmm.  Anyhow...

I'm using am 808-threaded VGo 1000 mAh battery and a good old original Kanger 808D-1 to test these on. Both are unregulated and start off at 4.2V. All of these cartos are 808 threaded.

The biggest problem have with these is the Burn Factor. Every single one of these cartos will go dry and give you that not-so-tasty burnt atty flavor.  There's a juice idea for ya.  In addition, the atty will heat up and burn the juice. Didn't matter what juice I put in them. Burned it.

With some practice and very slow, long draws they vape fairly well. If you're use to standard cartomizers, though, you'll need to pay attention when vaping on this style of carto to avoid the Burn.

I suspect the main problem is the battery running at a higher voltage. Let's loook at the VGo for example. I measure the VGo at spot on 4.2V fresh off the charger.  Measuring about every 30 minutes of vaping, after two and half hours it's down to 4.0-4.1V. It hangs there for the rest of the time until it starts to drop rapidly as the battery runs out. For about an hour it'll sit at 3.7, then drop suddenly and starts flashing.

The only time any of these cartos was really usable, and by that I mean enjoyable, was in that hour of 3.7V vaping. Regardless of resistance rating, these cartos are clearly designed for batteries that run at 3.7V. So poping one on your favorite box mod or VV mod will give some sweet vaping.

With 808s being mostly 4.2V bats, though, why put that thread on one of these cartos?  If you your 808 runs at 3.7V these are a entirely different experience than I had. If they pop at 4.2V, you're gonna struggle with these.

The Vortex on a VGo. the CE2 r4, CE2 Clearomizers, and Vortex.

Overall I'm not terribly impressed with the Clearomizer concept. Neat idea and I like that I can see the juice in there. In fact, one of the biggest drawbacks to the solid case CE2s is that it's difficult to tell when they're filled, which can get messy and waste precious drops of juice. Not good. The clearomizers, though, are just too dang fragile. I'd like a regular CE2 r4 with a little window down the side. That would work.

So who wins?

I'll do an individual review on each of these, but here's break down:

Taste - CE2 r4.

By a nose over the Vortex, but the difference is there. The CE2 r4 just works better, more consistently putting the right amount of juice on the atomizer and producing a solid taste with little or no interference. It's not for every juice, but for most, the CE2 r4 wins the tasty battle out of this lot.

Vapor - CE2 r4

"Plumes" is the only way to describe it. Even with my good old regular MBro/USA Mix PG juice, it easily produced more vapor on the CE2 r4 than the other two cartos.  Sometimes the difference was very slight, particularly with juice loaded with VG. But on many of the juices I tried, in particular mostly PG stuff, the CE2 r4 won out hands down.

Ease of Use - Vortex

Pop open the cap, filler her up, vape. It doesn't get any easier than that! Sure there's a few bugs to work out, but for easy, the Vortex blows away anything I've seen. Not just these two, but anything. With a little tweaking, this is the future of cartomizers right here folks.

Design - Vortex

It's sleek, clean design and easy to use features make the Vortex a cutting edge cartomizer. They look wicked cool, as well.

Overall Winner - Original Kanger 808 Horizontal Cartomizer!

Wait! That's not a choice! Well... Unfortunately, none of these is enough of an improvement to get me to give up a good old Kanger Horizontal carto. They have their pluses, but the minuses are too much.

It's about the vaping. On all scores, none of these produce the convenience of an original carto. The Vortex has the most potential, and the CE2 r4 certainly has the flavor and vapor production. But screwing with them is more trouble than it's worth for me.

Oh, I'll keep trying them and messing with them. That's the fun part. But at this point, I can't just flat out recommend them as replacement. The newest and latest generation of filler-style cartos are vastly superior to those we were getting just a few months ago, and make it difficult to recommend making a full switch.

That said...

As much as I love the Vortex, it's still got a few tweaks before it's ready for prime time. The CE2 r4 is the better vaping experience out of this lot.. It might take a little practice to hit the sweet spot, but it's a Very Sweet Spot when you get there. The Vortex will be getting revisions soon, of course, and the G4 style cartos are starting to show up now (it's a Vortex, basically). Perhaps, those will do it.

In the meantime, if you're set on trying a CE2 carto, look for the CE2 r4 or r5 versions. They perform reasonably well and give great vapor and taste when they do perform.

Just don't be surprised if you find yourself ordering up a batch of Kanger or Boge filler-style cartos at the same time. Just in case.

Angel's Luck & Electric Dreams,
Capt.

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