Arizer ups its Solo ante with a sequel - while Vie vies for vapourizer success
By Jim Bray
One of the most popular ground cannabis vapourizers - though definitely not the most affordable - has received a serious upgrade, one that's well worth a view. And if the Arizer's too rich for you, Vie has unleashed a much different and less expensive model it thinks should be, well, high on your shopping list.
It's always nice to have choices!
With medical marijuana all the rage and legal marijuana on the Canadian horizon, it seems that it's more a matter of "when" the stuff will become mainstream, rather than "if." But there are still the issues of smoke, second hand smoke, and all those arguments - which combine to make a compelling case for a good vapourizer with which to consume the stuff rather than smoking it.
This is my fourth column looking at the issue of medical/legal marijuana and the products made to help exploit (or enjoy) it. We've looked at three Arizer vapourizers, the favourites of which were the original Solo and the smaller Air, as well as several other portable and desktop vapes in columns you can find here, here and here.
Technology marches on, of course, and since my original Arizer commentaries the company has introduced a sequel to its Solo. Called the Solo II, in a brilliant bit of marketing innovation, it builds on the features that were great about the original, but adds new technology to make it work even better.
As before, I assembled a panel of self-styled "experts," middle aged and senior citizens I know, folks who were imbibing the evil weed long before there was any kind of movement toward legalization. Yep, a bunch of scofflaws! Scofflaws who've managed to build long careers and raise normal families despite being wanted fugitives for decades.
Some of the panellists are now getting their marijuana legally, via Canada's medical marijuana bureaucracy, while others still prefer the joys of the "free market." The ones who receive medical MJ noted that the health care practitioners they talk to recommend using a vapourizer rather than smoking, I assume for the reasons outlined above - carcinogens in smoke, etc. So these reviews are right up their alley.
The Solo II ($299 USD) looks like a sleeker version of the original Solo. It's the same height as the original, but its metallic cylinder is more ovoid than the round of the first unit - and this makes it more comfortable in the hand The Solo II no longer has a removable top, which panellists found made it a tad harder to clean the inside, but it wasn't too big a deal.
The interface is new. Gone are the two buttons of the Solo, and the vertical row of LED's that tell you the temperature, etc. Instead, there's a little LED screen and below it there's a button surrounded by what looks like a wheel but which is really an up/down button. To fire up the unit, you press and hold the button and the top of the "wheel" (done easily with your thumb) while it counts down to "fire up".
This countdown is apparently to prevent the Solo II from heating up in your pocket, by mistake. None of the panellists had noticed such an issue with the other Solo - or the Air - but perhaps the folks at Arizer had received some complaints from blissfully unaware tokers. Anyway, you can adjust this "safety" time to as low as four seconds, though no shorter than that. Not a big deal, of course, and probably beats being sued.
Once it fires up, the monochrome display reads out its current temperature (cold, if you haven't used it yet) and by pressing the top of the "wheel" you can have it resume its last temperature used. That "wheel," incidentally, also operates as an "up" or "on" control - the bottom functions as "down" or "off" - for setting the various adjustable parameters, such as sound off/on, session length default, display brightness, etc.. It's a simple and rather elegant system that works well. The panellists liked 200 degrees Celsius, after trying a few different settings, though you can set it in one degree increments from 50 to 220. You can also set it to read out in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
The glass tubes appear to be the same as with the other Arizers, though shorter, and now they come with little rubber caps so you can load your tubes before you head out, without dumping your dope all over the domicile. There's a handy carrying case, too, into which you can pack the base unit and two glass tubes.
Prepacking the tubes and using the carrying case means the Solo II is quite portable, more so than the original - and about as portable as the Air. So if you're looking for a vape that's small enough to travel with you, yet still gives the best vape quality, this might be right up your alley.
The Solo II seems to heat up much more quickly than the old unit - Arizer says it'll heat up three times more quickly than the old one and that also has much better battery life: Arizer says a charge will allow for up to 20 sessions. In practice, while the panel would use the original Solo enough to require charging every day or so (depending on the day and the mood!), the Solo II can go for a couple of days of the same kind of use. If it runs down, it's easy to recharge via the included adapter, and you can apparently still use it while it's charging, though we never found the need.
Cleaning isn't difficult, but we did find that the Solo II seems to get a bit more messy inside the chamber than the old one - even though the chamber looks very similar. It's easy to clean, however, and I'll address that a little more in a subsequent column.
I think part of the residue issue in the Arizer II may have been due to high THC weed, too. One of the panelists who's using medical marijuana prescriptions contributed stuff with THC levels of 20 per cent or more. This not only made for a better party, it seemed to make the chamber and the tubes dirtier as well. At least one of the panellists also noted that the high THC stuff also affected the throat adversely.
The Solo II comes with all this stuff in the box:
The screens are new and a welcome addition. The original supposedly didn't require screens (there's a bit of a built in screen in the glass tubes) but it really did. Well, the tubes need the screens; the Solo itself couldn't care less. But if you want to clean your tubes less often, and inhale less of the "ground goodness" rather than just vapour, you'll want the screen and my panellists tell me that the small size that fits the Arizer tubes perfectly are a tad hard to find. So Kudo to Arizer for including them now (though the panellist charged with keeping track of them lost them quickly…).
Arizer says it has also improved the airflow with the Solo II, though if it did the panel never noticed. The vapour flow from all of the Arizer vapes we've tried was fantastic, and this didn't seem like a huge difference. The vapour is thick and (depending on the source, of course) flavourful and (depending on the source, of course) can put a wide smile on the user's face quickly and efficiently. Whether it be the original Solo, this Solo II, or even the Air, vape quality and quantity is outstanding.
The only real issue, other than the price, is that because you're using glass tubes you have to take care not to break them. We've been through a couple between the three Arizers that use the tubes - the most recent because the panellist charged with cleaning them dropped one into the sink with too much gusto and it shattered into more pieces than his wounded credibility.
Can't blame the vapourizer for that, though the culprit certainly tried!
Is it worth upgrading to the Solo II from the Solo or the Air? Probably not, but if you haven't bought a vapourizer yet, or if it's time to replace or upgrade, this Solo II is the best we've used. Recommended, er, highly.
Vieing for a cut rate buzz….
If you can't afford an Arizer but still want to partake of portable pot, you could try the new Vie. This sucker is only about a hundred bucks and could be perfect for the toker who likes to indulge while out walking - like one of the panellists does. It could be a nice replacement for a pipe - and it's certainly more subtle and less smelly.
The secret to the Vie is its "pods," little bullet-like receptacles into which you put your ground stuff (each supposedly holds .3 of a gram), which then slide into a receptacle on the bottom of the unit. And that's what makes this such an interesting vape: you can load as many pods as you want and carry them in the included metal tube; remove one as needed, load into the Vie (via a little screw off port on the unit's bum) and then fire up. It's like a single shot gun.
The Vie comes with four pods, so there should be enough to keep you entertained until you get home. You can also dump your stuff right into the chamber (it comes with screens) if you're in too much of a hurry to load your pods in advance.
Vie boasts an "advanced heating system" and the ability to handle both solids and concentrates. There are four temperature settings (our panel liked the third hottest), heat up time is good, and the maker promises 200 "puffs per charge".
In the box, you'll find:
To use the Vie, you're supposed to press the front button three times quickly, then wait for the logo to turn green. Once it does, you hold down the button until the Vie vibrates, then inhale while holding down the button. If you want another hit, you hold the button again until the unit vibrates, then repeat the process.
It didn't work that way for the panel, though. Whoever's turn it was to try the Vie would only get one, maybe two, hits from a session and to get another the unit had to be shut off (pressing the button three times quickly again). This made the unit very good for a quick, solo hit - the "going for a walk in public" scenario outlined above - but not the ideal party tool.
It's reasonably worthwhile as such, though. The vape quality is very good and so is the initial amount. And if you shut it off and leave it for a few minutes, you can repeat the process and it'll reward you nicely.
The vapourizer gets a little warm in the hand, but nothing alarming.
The panellists were nearly unanimous in judging that, if it were their money, they'd save up the extra for the Solo II for its extra performance and flexibility, though it isn't as subtle to use in public as the Vie.
Copyright 2017 Jim Bray
Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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