The $5 e-cigarette: Not quite a review

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You may have noticed by the title, this isn’t a traditional Impressions article.  I picked up a no-name, no frills e-cigarette kit straight from China for five bucks (shipped) on Focalprice.  I didn’t really buy it to write a review.  I wanted to see if these things might have been a viable product to hand out to people who wanted to check out e-cigarettes.

But… Why?

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The image from

Some people carry around disposables for just that reason. My Freedom Smokes even has some disposables on clearance for a little under four dollars at the time this article was written.  I went with the 5 dollar kit using the logic that if someone actually does try it and like e-cigarettes, they’d then have to buy and wait for a real e-cigarette kit to arrive.

During that wait, that’s more time the person has to keep smoking the analog cigarettes.  Of course the fact that this kit only set me back a few bucks was also a key factor.  I also liked that it came in a cigarette pack which would be friendly for new users.  I mistakenly also thought this might have been a 306 kit based on the pictures on the site.

So what is it then?
Stuff from Focalprice is shipped straight from China so it took over two weeks for this thing to show up. Once I received the kit, I quickly discovered the e-cigarette did not use 306 threads which would have made it compatible with 510 gear.  It was in fact, an M401 kit, which is the polar opposite of a 510.  That was a little bit of a let down, but I figured for a 5 spot, who could complain.

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What could possibly go wrong?
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The packaging however, was true to the pictures on the site, and definitely belies this kit’s origin as a straight from China product.  This kit probably wouldn’t make it too long if offered by a US-based vendor.  If Phillip Morris didn’t sue the company for ripping off the Marlboro color scheme, the FDA would recall these things for the health claims right on the package.

Aside from the need for rebranding for the local market, this kit isn’t terribly different from the kit I spent six times as much on when I started vaping.  Let’s go back to the traditional review format and do a what’s in the box segment.

What’s in the box
The no-name e-cigarette kit comes in what for all intents and purposes is an actual cigarette pack.  Little die-cut foam inserts keeps all the stuff in place.  I guess the pack does serve as a handy, if not flimsy carrying case.  Inside that case you get:

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  • 1 m401 style automatic battery (red LED of course)
  • 1 m401 style atmoizer
  • 4 pre-filled cartridges (and 1 dummy cartridge on the atomizer)
  • 1 USB charger
  • 1 ability to brag about an ironic purchase like some kind of hipster
As for what is actually in the cartridges, I have no idea.  It’s a sort of generic nutty tobacco flavor.  Not a terrible flavor, it’s probably some kind of Dekang liquid.  There’s no info whatsoever that comes with this kit, so who knows what the nicotine levels are.  If I had to guess I’d say it was in the 12mg range or so.
You’re kidding, right?  I would love to say that this generic e-cigarette is some kind of sleeper that provides surprisingly good performance.  I’d also like to say I just won the lottery.  Sadly, neither of those things are true.
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Yes, yes it is.

Performance is probably about average for this type of e-cigarette.  That is to say, the vapor production is pretty anemic, although the vapor is fairly warm.  Flavor as I mentioned is not unpleasant, but throat hit sadly lags behind flavor.

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You also have to work to get this kind of performance out of this kit as the atomizer has a fairly stiff draw.  Combined with an automatic battery, this equation means that you are going to be puffing fairly hard to get any real noticeable vapor out of this device at all.
I suppose this device still is technically an e-cigarette.  I could hand these out for people to try, but I think it would be doing more to convince them that e-cigarettes are terrible than to get them to be regular readers of this site.  Of course, I’ve seen pretty much this exact kit for sale at some sites for upwards of 100 dollars.  That is what gives e-cigarettes a bad rep in the eyes of potential e-cigarette converts.
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Too Long; Didn’t Read
Focalprice carries a large selection of no-name e-cigarettes straight out of China.  I thought I would try the cheapest one to see if it had potential to give to people who wanted to try out e-cigarettes.  I think I should have upped the budget to 7 dollars, or maybe just went with disposable models like everyone else.
I’ll spare you the usual pros and cons section here.  Basically the pro is it is 5 bucks, the con is you get what you pay for.
Product: e-Cigarette (there’s not really a brand name here)
Purchased from: FocalPrice
Price: $5.07
Threading: M401

Steve K

Hello and welcome to Steve K


  • Hi Steve,

    Last Nov/Dec when I was learning about ecigs I read several comments about what a great dipper that style atomizer is. Did you perchance give dipping a try versus the cartridges to see if that improved it's performance?


    • Not with that particular kit, but my first e-cig was the same kind. I did drip with that and performance was way better. Problem is those are auto batteries so they don't mix too well with dripping, and I did kill one.

      But… if you want that experience, look into 306 atomizers. They are 510 threaded and are very popular with drippers. I reviewed one from IkenVape, and actually have their newest ones the IO6 but haven't written a review yet. The only downside with the 306 atties is that you need a special drip tip as the 510 models don't work. MadVapes also carries some 306 atties (they carry everything after all).

  • >"MadVapes also carries some 306 atties.

    Those are what got me thinking about the dipping (something I don't see anymore) method. Fact is I've ordered one along with a spare VV Box Mod in case mine goes bad. That's how much I depend on the one I have.

    Don't know why I'm still experimenting with different vapor production units, I have a drawer full of nearly everything that I've read about this year, many of which I've never used including that "Revolution V2" that I couldn't resist, and most of what I have used have been a disappointment either in performance or longevity.

    The very best I've found to date is the 901 atties. I just retired the second of three I bought last Dec because it was finally getting weak. For LR longevity the 901 bridgless atty can't be beat. I'm still using the first out of a pack of five I bought a month back for $15 and it's still performing perfectly. I've been getting less than a weak from all my previous LR atties, most a lot less. In my book for cost effectiveness, vapor production and longevity one can't go wrong with the 901 atties and Boge 510 regular cartos.


    • You'd think I've tried everything, but I've never used a 901. I might one of these days, someone on Twitter recommended I try the Screwdriver MK II which is a 901 threaded device.

  • >"You'd think I've tried everything, but I've never used a 901."

    That is a surprise!

    Just looked up the Screwdriver that had limited information and wonder what it's advantages are over the Sparki SP3? I would have probably tried the bare Sparki for $16 but the 810 threading turned me off as I have no idea what will fit it other than their custom atties. Like the looks and threading of the Screwdriver but the price turns me off. -) Have been looking at this type of mod since finding how inexpensive Trustfire batteries are from Focalprice with free shipping.

    The LR 901 bridgeless atties work fine at 3.7v but if you want to try the regular 901s you will need an adapter for one of your VV units as they work best in the 4.5/4.7v range, at least for my taste.

    Should have mentioned the 901 atties, I've had great luck with are DSE-901, stamped as SLB. Have tried other 901 atties but they haven't been on par with the SLB units.


  • To be honest I'm not even sure if the screwdriver is totally mechanical like the Sparki, or if it uses electrical switches. Mostly I kind of look at things from the perspective of if they'd make for an interesting review for the site. FWIW, you can always get an adapter for the Sparki or anything else, really MadVapes and a few other places carry them. Also I really need to actually write a review, but the IkenVape LR fusions are 801 threaded and fit the Sparki and work really well.

    The other option if you want to stick with native 510 (and I think you can get endcaps for other threads even) is the Puresmoker Icon. It's more expensive, but that thing is about as rock solid as you can get, and I think it looks pretty sharp too. I haven't tried it's big brother the Prodogy (yet) but that's supposed to be just as solid and gives you the option of going 3.7 or 6v. I'm pretty sure you've seen it, but the Icon review is here:

  • Maybe I'll give the Sparki another look as I didn't realized it was 801 threading, don't know how I came up with the 810 number. I have several 801 LR and regular atties and cartos which have been disappointing in every respect but maybe give them another try with the Sparki and/or my VV Box.

    The Sparki is much closer to what I'm willing to spend for something like that but thanks for the link for a comparison.


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