Variable voltage e-cigarettes seem to be split into two camps. There are the original style, large (mostly) tubular devices that use external batteries. Those models were joined fairly recently by eGo-style midrange electronic cigarettes. Now we have the Robust which bridges the gap between the two styles. Slightly larger than an eGo, the Robust packs the same basic features of a larger device, including a replaceable battery. This Robust ecig review will explore whether the name is fitting for the device.
|Product name||The Robust|
|Available from||Vapor Alley|
|Voltage range||3.0-6.0v (.1v increments)|
The Robust is available in two different styles: round and square. The round version is what you would expect in a traditional variable voltage e-cigarette. If you opt for the square version, you'll get a device with flat sides, though the corners are sort of angled, so technically I think that makes it a decagon.
In truth, the square model's basic design is nearly identical to the Innokin iTaste as far as the shell goes. I opted for the square version, just to be different (and to keep it from rolling off my desk). Other than the shape, functionally, both versions are identical, so this review will apply to either version.
Obviously, the big feature with the Robust is its small size. This size is possible because it uses a small 14500 IMR battery. The 14500 is about the size of a standard AA battery. My 14500s are rated at 700 mAh, so as far as battery life goes, it's about on par with a 650mAh eGo Twist.
The battery is loaded in the bottom of the variable voltage e-cigarette via a standard vented end cap. Yes, even the square version has a round end cap, which looks odd, but a square end cap would just be weird.
On the top side, you'll find the eGo connector. The connector is recessed in a deep drip well in the end cap, similar to the “lambo” style Lavatubes. The connector even features the same nifty spring-loaded center pin which ensures a good connection between the device and cartomizer.
The downside of the recessed design on a small device is the connector is fairly narrow. Traditional eGo atomizers and things will work with this, as will the Vision eGo clearomizers. Slightly wider cartomizers like the Kanger T3 are too wide to fit in the recess. A 510-eGo adapter will fix that, but it just doesn't look as clean.
Typical variable voltage controls can be found on the front of the Robust. There's two adjustment buttons, a small backlit display and a fire button. The fire button is plastic but has a nice tactile feel to it and is illuminated when pressed.
You'll find the fire button directly under the display screen, while the adjustment buttons are above which is a little unusual. Even more unusual is accessing a couple of the features. Like most advanced variable voltage device, the Robust features 5-click on/off, resistance and battery voltage checking. Holding the + button for a few seconds displays voltage. Here's where it gets weird.
Click the – button 5 times to turn the unit on or off. Yes, you read that right. If you want to check the atomizer resistance, click the fire button five times. That's pretty much the opposite of every device out there, and incredibly counter-intuitive.
Other than that rather strange choice of functionality, it's a fairly straight forward device to use. The construction feels very solid. There's no impression that this is the toy version of one of the big devices.
The only thing this device lacks in comparison to the big boys is variable wattage. Perhaps I'm spoiled since there's currently only a handful of devices that do both.
Ok, so we know the Robust has the features of the large advanced personal vaporizers, but, can it hang with them? The answer is yes, though not as long. A tiny battery is obviously not going to last nearly as long as a big 18650. I can coax about 2-3 hours of heavy use out of one 14500.
Otherwise, this device performs at the same levels equivalent big battery APVs. Voltage output was pretty close to the selection on the device. It actually slightly over compensated outputting around .05v higher than the setting. The output stayed fairly steady through most of the charge cycle, dropping below the setting toward the end.
Also like comparable large devices, there's a fairly low amperage limit on this device. An attached dual coil cartomizer will cause the voltage output to drop to 3.7. At this point I'm convinced that high amperage isn't possible in devices of this level. Either it needs dual batteries, which isn't practical in this design, or high-end circuitry like that in the ProVari.
In short, this is basically a very tiny version of the Lavatube variants running around.
Too Long; Didn't Read
The Robust e-cigarette is a miniature big battery mod. Running on a single 14500, you won't get the battery life of a big device, but all the performance is there. It has the same features as your average device while being contained in a small package. If you want something a little different you can even opt for the squared version. Both are available at Vapor Alley.
|Solid build quality|
|Voltage drops as battery discharges|
|Power and resistance check features reversed|
|Flimsy battery spring|
|Can't fit all eGo cartomizers|
Disclosure: I received this item for review from VaporAlley for whom I also feature affiliate links.