Saturday, May 9, 2015

REVIEW: Kanger K-Box

Somewhere there exists a device that rides a fine line between a mech and a variable voltage / variable wattage mod. That somewhere is here. That device is the Kanger K-Box. I picked mine up ever so slightly used from the E-Cigarette Forum classifieds, but you can find they almost everywhere. Today, I'd recommend VaporBeast.

 This is a nice little box! I am quite surprised. Pleasantly so. Where I have always been a fan of Kanger tanks, clearomizers, glassomizers, and batteries, I wasn't sure I would like the Kanger K-Box. I mean, It's a slab of aluminum with 14 pinprick led lights, two buttons, one 510 connector, and a bottom load screw-in battery cover. That's it. No menu, no OLED screen, no ports. It it reminiscent of a mechanical mod with a kick installed in it's simplicity of function - but a lot more powerful (most kick modules stopped way before 40 watts - somewhere in the 11 - 15 watt range). And, it's a lot simpler to use then a kick as the module does not have to be removed to adjust it.

Is it better than an iStick 50? No. Is it easier to use? Yes. Does it look as nice? Yeah, I kinda think it does. Does it cost less? Oh, yeah!

Well, sorta... In order to use it, you will also need an 18650 battery with a discharge rating of at least 20 amps, and a charger for the battery. When looking at this device, remember to add in those items or you'll have a nice looking paperweight. If you have a spare 18650 and already own a charger, then, Oh, yeah all over again.

On the top of the device which measures 89 mm high, 40 mm deep, and 20-25 mm thick (20-25 mm? Yeah. The device is square at the back and rounded at the front) is a debossed KBOX logo and a 510 connection.with a spring loaded center pin. On one side is a blank slab of aluminum and on the other is a Kangertech cutout which serves as another piece of branding and battery venting. Smart! The single, non-contoured side of the body sports a 7.25 mm button set inside a 11 mm raised ring. Beneath the button are two columns of pinprick led lights. The left side is just your battery level (each light represents around 14% battery life - 100 percent battery life divided by 7 lights equals 14.28751428751... I figure 14 is easier to work with). The right side is a round robin list of preset wattages in 8, 13, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40. Round robin in that you cannot adjust down... just up and over the top. If there were 70 settings, this might be a problem, but with just seven, you are only six clicks from any available setting. Beneath the columns of lights is a 3 mm button for adjusting the wattage. On the bottom is a round cap for the battery compartment. The cap is screenprinted with the logo and CE and no not dispose, etc. Additionally, there are three recessed hex screws around the sides and a cross-shaped air flow groove around the 510 connector.

The majority of the device is a uniform, anodized finish (the top plate, bottom plate and battery cap have a different finish) that has proven to be very durable, and kinda comfy to hold on to. It has a nice weight in the hand and only a few, easily avoidable corners. It is just as easy to fire with the index finger or the thumb, and there's nothing to confuse your sense of touch when firing it in the dark.

Despite the simple exterior, the device still provides a plethora of safety features including low battery protection, low resistance protection (it reads the resistance, but does not display it anywhere), short protection, reverse battery protection, and a 10-second vaping cutoff. Five clicks on the fire button turns it on or off.

Although this device was obviously designed to pair perfectly with the Kanger Subtank v1 or Kanger Subtank Plus (the bulbous portion of the body is 25 mm as are the two tanks mentioned), it has worked fine with every atomizer I've tried. It has fired from 8 watts with a 1.7 ohm Tobeco Genesis DID atomizer all the way up to 40 watts with the Lemo and never missed a beat.

But it is by no means a perfect device. The pinprick lights are hardish to see in daylight, the corners can be uncomfortable if your hand slips, the range of settings is a bit limiting even if well researched, figuring your battery life requires some math on the fly, the battery cover is a bit of a challenge to put on (a very stiff spring coupled with a large thread), and no on-board charging (meaning you WILL have to take the battery out and install a fresh one and you WILL have to have a charger. I also had one of my tanks leak, and the juice ended up inside the mod somehow.

These small cons are easily offset by its price. At the time that I am writing this, you can pick up one in either silver or a just released black for around $18. $18! That's cheaper than most mechs and well worth it for the protections and features offered.

Would I buy another? Are you kidding? I'd buy two or three.

Final score:

  • Finish 8/10 - The battery cap can be a little problematic, and it could be a little bit better sealed.
  • Form 9/10 - There are four sharpish corners that can be a little uncomfortable when you first grab it, but they are easy enough to avoid.
  • Function 9/10 - The lack of fine-tuning, resistance display, and on-board charging are disappointing, but for $18... I can overlook that.
  • Final - 8.7/10 - an awesome, protected, inexpensive mod suitable for most anything below 2.2 ohms and an absolutely fantastic entry level mod for sub ohm vaping down to .4 ohms.