Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Arizer Solo III

Excellent new Arizer vapes up the brand's – and the state of the art – ante

By Jim Bray
May 9, 2024

Medical marijuana users – and others who may merely choose to imbibe in cannabis products since Justin Trudeau decided he needed their votes – have some great new (and new-ish) tools from which to choose, thanks to Canadian company Arizer.

I've helped review Arizer products many times and have found them all to be designed and built very well, even though some of their vapes (such as the big, table top ones) don't really appeal to me. That said, my "panel," a group of friends I've gotten to opine on many vape reviews, were perfectly fine with them. They're wrong, of course, but I'll never tell them that (unless they read this!).

To handle my prescription medical herb, however, I like something small and more subtle, something easy to store and pack, and this sometimes works against the larger and less mobile models available from Arizer and an abundance of other manufacturers. Some of those may be great for parties, but they're more difficult to pack around with you.

My prescription resulted from my family doctor referring me to a cannabis clinic to help combat the growing arthritis I was experiencing in my ankles and feet, a condition that had sharply curtailed my ability to go on anything other than short walks. And it has worked magnificently! I've gone from having to rest often to being pretty well back to normal. It's quite remarkable.

So why vape, as opposed to edibles or smoking? Well, I can't really comment on edibles, but my doctor recommended vaping as opposed to smoking because you don't get all the supposedly dangerous stuff created by combustion (vapes don't burn the stuff, they just heat it up until it gives up its "wonders").

And now Arizer has taken my favourite vape – the Solo, which impressed my panel and myself in various versions – and introduced not only an update to an earlier generation but added an entirely new model (the Solo III) as well, one that ups the ante substantially.

Solo IIIThe previous version, the Solo II, now has a Max edition as well, and you can also get an even more portable Air Max and an entry level Air SE. Arizer sent me all four of these to reiew and I can happily admit that all deliver excellent performance coupled with wonderful build quality. They're quite a bit different from each other, however, and together they offer a nice range from "entry level portable" to "high end not quite as portable" units.

Let's start with the new kid on the block: the Solo III. At $344.99 (US and Canadian), it's hardly entry level, but you get a really great unit that performs better than any other such vape I or my friends on the panel have tried. It definitely isn't without issues, but the thing works so well we can live with them easily.

It's a bigger unit that the other Solos available now, and feels very substantial in the hand – it almost reminds me of a light sabre hilt – and it also sports a new, colour display. It features a deeper "non-combustion chamber" than the other Solos, as well as higher capacity glass tubes in which you put your herb. There are also two modes, now, "Session Mode" and "On Demand Mode". Session mode is pretty much like Solos have always operated: fire it up, it comes up to temperature (amazingly quickly, though, in this version) and you use it until the preset session time (ours are set to 10 minutes) before it shuts off.

On Demand mode is kind of cool, though neither I nor my friends who tried it would have cared if it weren't there. But it's always nice to have choices. On Demand fires up quickly as well (Arizer claims five to 15 second warming time, which is spectacular) and instead of just sitting there at temperature waiting for you to draw upon it, it cools back down again and waits patiently for you to press the button to warm it up again – at which time it repeats the heating/cooling process.  

I guess this permutation saves wastage, as it doesn't keep heating your stuff when you're not pulling, and maybe it saves battery life; we couldn't tell. But it's kind of cool – though we generally stuck with Session mode because it requires less conscious thought and attention. But On Demand there if you want it and it works well.

Vape quality is first rate (remembering the old "garbage in, garbage out" saw) and you can preset your temperatures and times. We found it worked just fine out of the box, so didn't mess with it other than to experiment, and to turn off the beeps and stuff like that.

One advantage of the larger capacity tubes and unit is that you can don't have to grind your herb if you don't want to. I like this feature because I am a bit of a klutz and have difficulty not grinding the herb too finely. On the other hand, you still have to break up large buds and the panel thought the performance to be slightly better with ground herb anyway. But, again, you have the choice.

Solo III's display is easy to read and during your session (in Session mode) it mostly shuts down, undoubtedly to save battery life (which, by the way, is excellent) Arizer says it'll last up the three hours between charges, and you can still use it while you're recharging it (just have a USB 3 extension cord nearby!).

As with the Solo II Max and the Air Max, the display inverts to make it easier to read while you have it upside down.

Here's what's in the Solo III box:
1 x Solo III Multi-Purpose Portable Heater
1 x Solo III Owner's Manual
1 x USB-C Charger (5v, 3A)
1 x XL Glass Aroma Tube (90mm)
1 x XL Frosted Glass Aroma Tube (14mm)
1 x Air / Solo Glass Aroma Tube (90mm)
1 x Air / Solo Frosted Glass Aroma Tube (14mm)
4 x Air / Solo Silicone Stem Caps
2 x PVC Travel Tube w./ Cap (90mm Size)
2 x PVC Travel Tube w./ Cap (70mm Size)
1 x Stainless Steel Stirring Tool
4 x Air / Solo Stainless Steel Filter Screens

Issues are minor and are chiefly related to the new interface. It's colour now, which is nice, but the company has also piled on layers of hoops or "greetings" you have to suffer through just to get the darn thing to fire up. So, you press the power button, wait for three circles to appear, and then use the left, up, and right arrows to unlock it. Then you choose the type of mode (Session or On Demand) and take it from there. This is unnecessarily complicated.

Solo II Max

Now, it was a pre-production sample I was sent, so there's a chance these issues will be addressed. Or not. Even if they leave it as it is, it's a great product and my "buds" and I were very happy with the Solo III and recommend it "highly".

If its price is too dear for you, Arizer also has introduced a Max version of the Solo II, which is also a great vape. This $242.99 CAD device updates and improves the original Solo II. It isn't a huge upgrade, but it has some great new features, including USB 3 charging, bidirectional monochrome display and controls, and more.

Other tweaks from the Solo II include upgraded Custom Session Settings, its delay before firing up is now down to two seconds from a minimum of four before (for those who really, really want to get at the session!). I believe this delay is to prevent you from "pocket firing" the devices unknowingly. But I think it's silly and undoubtedly lawyer-generated.

You also get treated to advanced rapid heating – only 30 seconds required to reach temperature – and it seems as if the battery lasts longer now, too – Arizer claims up to three hours, and you can use it while it's charging.

Here's what's in the box:
1 x Solo II MAX Multi-Purpose Portable Heater
1 x USB-C Charger (5v, 3A)
1 x Air / Solo Glass Aroma Tube (110mm)
1 x Air / Solo Frosted Glass Aroma Tube (14mm)
2 x Air / Solo Stem Cap
1 x PVC Travel Tube w./ Cap (110mm Size)
1 x PVC Travel Tube w./ Cap (70mm Size)
1 x Stainless Steel Stirring Tool
4 x Air / Solo Steel Filter Screen
1 x Solo II MAX Owner's Manual

Vape quality is also excellent (there isn't an Arizer vape in this piece that doesn't perform superbly in this capacity), but – probably because the "non-combustion chamber" and the glass tubes have lower capacity – you don't quite get the clouds of which the Solo III is capable. So just take two hits instead of one…

Arizer Air Max

It's a nice upgrade to the Solo II, and the panel also recommended it highly.

Going down the size and the cost of purchase scale (which means the next two units are even more portable than the Solos), we have the new Air Max, a $175.99CAD unit that's built beautifully (not that the others aren't, but this one just oozes quality construction). It upgrades the Air II by, for example, adding better Custom Session Settings, automatic display inversion, Dark Mode (a more subtle way to vape in public), new rapid-heating ceramic technology, USB-C charging, and a high-capacity lithium-ion battery.

The Air Max heats up in less than a minute and you have degree-by-degree temperature control ranging from 50 – 220 degrees Celsius (122 – 428 Fahrenheit). As with the other Arizers, we found it worked great around 200 Celsius, though cranking that up a bit makes for stronger clouds. 

Here's what's in the box:
1 x Air MAX Multi-Purpose Portable Heater
1 x 26650 Battery
1 x USB-C Charger (5v, 2A)
1 x Air / Solo Glass Aroma Tube (70mm)
1 x Air / Solo Frosted Glass Aroma Tube (14mm)
1 x Air / Solo Glass Aroma Dish
2 x Air / Solo Stem Cap
2 x PVC Travel Tube w./ Cap (70mm Size)
1 x PVC Travel Tube w./ Cap (Aroma Dish Size)
1 x Stainless Steel Stirring Tool
4 x Air / Solo Steel Filter Screen
1 x Sample Aromatic Botanicals
1 x Air MAX Owner's Manual

As expected, the vape quality is outstanding, the portability is first rate (as with all of these, you can pre-pack your glass tubes and take them with you in their "carrying tubes"). And though battery life and time to heat up aren't up to the Solos' standards, they're made up for by the unit's terrific portability. And you can use it while it's charging.

Air SE

Still can't justify the price of the Air Max? Arizer, in what I'm sure is a happy coincidence, has another excellent unit that's well worth checking out: the Air SE. This one retails for a paltry $106.24 CAD and it's worth every penny – or would be if we were still allowed to use pennies.

This is a less sophisticated version of the Air Max, but its vape quality is as good as the other units' here. You do lose some features, of course. For example, you only get five preset temperatures, and micro-USB charging instead of USB3 (on the plus side, you can use it while charging, too, which is handy since its battery life seems a tad shorter than the other units mentioned here). 

Here's what you get:
1 x Air SE Multi-Purpose Portable Heater
1 x 18650 Battery
1 x Glass Aroma Tube (70mm)
1 x PVC Travel Tube (70mm)
1 x Air / Solo Stem Cap
1 x USB-A to Micro USB Cord
1 x Stainless Steel Stirring Tool
1 x Air SE Owner's Manual

The display is in colour, via little LED's, and it's quite rudimentary compared to the others. That said, it's easy to use and it works fine.

Control is via a rocker switch; hold it down to fire it up, then move the switch up or down to choose your temperature level, from 180 degrees C to 210 – with our favourite temperature of 200 being the middle setting. Choosing 180 degrees lights up the display in blue, then there's white (190C), green (200C), orange (205C) and red (210C).

As with the other vapes outlined here, it's easy to use, performs very well, and in this case it's also extremely affordable. Hard to lose out here!

Medical cannabis still seems to be a controversial topic in some corners, but I and some of the panel members can attest to the fact that the stuff really can help – depending of course on the condition you have and its severity. In my own case, as noted above, it has helped my arthritis so much that I rarely even think of it any more.

Ironically, a substance that was banned as evil and dangerous for many decades can now be obtained legitimately, and if it's a prescription you got through "the system", you can even write it off your taxes!

Bottom line with these Arizer products? Any of them will do the job for you extremely well; just choose based on need, coolness factor, or budget.

Copyright 2024 Jim Bray

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