Variable wattage e-cigarettes seem to be the next frontier in electronic cigarette innovation. Once solely the domain of ultra-expensive and hard to get mods like the Darwin, variable wattage devices are more common than ever. These lower-priced devices are improving at a rapid pace. Typically, when a product becomes more common, prices drop. The Vamo (eGo APV) is this theory in action with its budget friendly price tag and innovative features. Read the rest of the Vamo review after the jump to find out if you get what you pay for or if this is one heckuva bargain.
|Product Name||eGo APV V2 (Vamo)|
|Voltage range||3.0-6.0V (.1v increments)|
|Wattage range||3.0 – 15W (.5w increments)|
|Batteries||single 18350, dual 18350, single 18650 button top|
eGo APV Design
Even though this APV has the word eGo in its name (depending on which site you visit), from a look and feel standpoint, there is nothing in common with the venerable mid-sized electronic cigarette. The Vamo is a pretty vanilla tube style device. It is available with a chrome finish and features a flat top and end cap.
The device does, however sport a few interesting features. The screen is a backlit OLED display and there are two adjustment buttons beneath the screen. The fire button is smaller than some devices’ buttons, but is actually metal, a rarity these days.
You might be fooled by the vanilla appearance of the eGo APV’s flat top. However, they’ve actually recess mounted an eGo connector in there, cone threads and all. Things like eGo cones and Vision eGo clearomizers fit great on the connector. Unfortunately, some eGo clearomizers, including my favorite CE4 don’t fit. The sidewalls of the drip well are too close to the eGo connector meaning wider cartomizers simply won’t fit.
On a more glass half-full kind of note, the flat top is a great compliment to tank cartomizers and atomizers. There is another nice design feature to the Vamo. The tube is segmented so the bottom quarter of the tube unscrews in addition to the end cap.
Removing that segment allows the APV to run on a single 18350 battery. Like the ZMAX, the eGo can run in a one or two battery configuration. For dual battery mode, two 18350 IMR batteries are required with the bottom segment installed. A button-top 18650 can also be used when the tube is fully assembled. One note on 18650 batteries. This is the version 2 of the Vamo which has a longer spring to accommodate flat-top 18650s.
Unfortunately, the spring is still not long enough. While it will indeed work with flat tops, jostling the device may cause the battery to lose contact shutting the device off. To be honest, this device is at its best with two batteries. You can read more about that in the use section.
Lurking inside the mundane styling of the Vamo is some very advanced circuitry previously reserved for more expensive devices. Like I mentioned at the top of the article, this device is variable wattage meaning it adjusts the voltage output according to your settings and the current atomizer or cartomizer’s resistance. Change to a different atomizer and the voltage is adjusted on the fly to deliver the same wattage. This device does use VRMS to calculate voltage output as well.
If you’re a little more old school (I admit it, I am) you can also do straight up variable voltage. This is a handy thing if you like to run dual coil cartomizers at high voltages since the wattage calculations don’t take into account the unique properties of dual coils.
Using the Vamo
Before getting into the finer details of variable wattage, I’m going to get the single battery performance out of the way now. It’s abysmal.
The first thing I noticed when running the eGo APV with a single 18350 in variable wattage was that vapor production was considerably less than the same 8.0 watts when I had two batteries installed. I dropped my new on load volt meter inline and saw that about 3.0 volts were being delivered to the atomizer. Unfortunately, I was using a 2 ohm atomizer, so that number should have been closer to 8 volts.
Even more interesting things happened when I started playing with different wattage settings. Actually nothing interesting happened, and that’s what is so interesting. What I mean to say is the voltage didn’t really change. It hovered around 3.0v whether I had the thing set at 4W or 15W.
Variable voltage didn’t fare better. At least the voltages moved around at different settings, but on average, the output voltage was almost a full volt less than the set voltage.
I usually try to find something good to say in these reviews, but as far as single battery operation goes, either I got a dud unit or this thing is worthless with one battery.
Since we’re on the subject of batteries, I’ll just keep things out of order here and move right along to dual battery performance. It’s better and seems to perform as I would expect.
With dual batteries, the Vamo has to pulse everything to bring the voltage down which means my rudimentary test gear can’t pick up readings, so I’m going with how everything feels to me. Still, I’m pretty confident this device is working as it should.
Running dual coil cartomizers at high voltage is no problem with this device, which seems to be the case with many dual battery devices. The thing didn’t really even break a sweat pushing a 1.5 ohm dual coil at 5 volts.
Lower resistance single coil devices at variable wattage are a little more tricky for these devices to manage. This one performed quite well thanks to its use of VRMS to calculate voltage output. I have an early ZMAX which lacks that method and consistently burns this atomizer when set at 8 watts. The APV, by contrast, puts out great vapor with no burning. Swapping to a different cartomizer at the same wattage yields similar results.
In short, it’s a night and day difference between single and dual battery modes on this device.
Let’s get back to using the Vamo, which is normally how I lead off this section. Things are pretty straight forward with the fire button both activating the device and turning it on or off. The traditional 5 clicks toggle the power state. It takes pretty quick clicking to get the device to register the power on or off request, however.
The other annoying thing, which happens in a lot of devices these days, is that when the battery is removed the device defaults into the power off state. It also sets the voltage or wattage setting back down to 3.0.
Not that it’s difficult to adjust the voltage since there are individual buttons to increase or decrease that setting. The buttons also serve to operate the secondary features. While that makes it a little quicker to get to the readouts, it is not intuitive doing so.
To read the current battery charge voltage, you have to hold the left button for a couple of seconds. Holding the right button does the same for the resistance reading. To toggle between variable voltage and wattage, hold both buttons down at the same time.
It’s not bad once you get the hang of it, though I had to have a cheat sheet the first few times I did it. The last adjustment you can do is toggle between VRMS and the older MEAN method of calculating voltage output. To be honest I’m not sure why this is even a thing. Most users will stick with VRMS since its more accurate, especially at lower voltages. However, if you want to change it, you can.
Hold either the right or the left button down for 10 seconds and a code will be displayed for the current mode. N01 for MEAN and N02 for VRMS. To toggle to the other mode, repeat the process. The device should ship in VRMS mode, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to check.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
The Vamo is also known as the eGo APV, presumably because it has an eGo connector that works with some eGo threaded cartomizers. The Vamo has a number of battery configurations it can use, but unfortunately, only one of those configurations actually works well. Still, it performs quite good if you are comfortable with dual battery devices and the pricing is very attractive given this device is both variable voltage and variable wattage. It may be worth considering despite its shortcomings. The APV is available at Vapor Alley for under $50.
|VRMS for accurate voltage output|
|Variable voltage and wattage|
|Able to run dual coils at high voltage|
|Very poor performance in single battery mode|
|eGo connector can’t accommodate many ego cartomizers|
|Somewhat tricky to learn controls|
Disclosure: I received this device for review from VaporAlley, for which I feature affiliate links.
Errol(12/17/12 - 7:25 pm)
Have certainly been happy with mine in dual battery configuration, particularly fond of the ease of tuning. Tested it for AMP rating and it's very near 4amps which is all most will need.
My ClearMax put out nearly 5amps using the same atty and batteries. Unfortunately the tube cracked at 2 1/2 months of use and I sent it back for a credit while it was still under warranty. No I didn't drop it. :)
Steve K(12/17/12 - 10:04 pm)
I suppose that's the downside of the clear/acrylimax devices, not as sturdy as brass or stainless steel.
TehBilly(12/18/12 - 9:51 am)
Any word on 1xIMR 18650 performance? I have a pile of those batteries around and would love to pick up one of these to try if the 18650 is acceptable. I fear the answer will be "poor performance", but not having used 18350's I'm not sure what the difference actually will be.
If this were stainless I'd be buying a pack of them up, but I'm slightly afraid that at this price range the finish will last as well as the gunmetal ZMax I've got. Works fine, looks like trash!
Errol(12/18/12 - 6:22 pm)
I didn't test with a single battery but Busardo did a review with a 18650 battery (I think) and as I recall it came out at 3amps.
Steve K(12/18/12 - 7:20 pm)
a single 18650 would work identically to a single 18350, the only difference is the amount of storage, not the power output. I found the single battery performance pretty lackluster. Dual batteries, on the other hand, worked very well.
CountSmacula(12/23/12 - 11:47 am)
Steve, maybe you got a dud unit then. I run the Panny 18650 IMR in mine & get loads of vapor. Also get solid performance from 1.3 Ω up. I mostly use a 'Chobra' genny on mine, but have used Vivi Novas, E-1s and Stardusts all without an issue in either VW or VV mode.
JR M(12/25/12 - 4:56 am)
My two Vamo's do remember wattage setting when turned OFF or changing batteries.
Steve K(12/25/12 - 6:46 am)
It's sort of odd, it remembers wattage but not voltage.
Adam(02/24/13 - 4:15 am)
This is a safety feature to protect your coils. Because of the nature of VW there is no risk to your devices switching from say, a 3ohm to a 1.2ohm atomzier. If the same was done on the VV setting at say 6v, you'd burn up a coil if you forgot to drop the voltage.
junkman(01/09/13 - 7:42 am)
My VAMO works well with single battery. There are many reviews and threads on ecf and this is the first I have heard of the problem. Yours must be a dud.
Steve K(01/09/13 - 8:22 am)
That's good to hear (well, for everyone else not me). I generally run it with two batteries, so not a huge deal that mine is a little goofy with one battery.
Scott B(03/05/13 - 10:37 am)
Mine seems to work well with a single battery. It does NOT have the outer threads for cones, but it does accept the CE-4 tank. However, I’m not getting a good taste out of tanks…actually, I barely EVER have for some reason. Maybe I need to try different wattage settings. I seem to get a burnt taste when at lower wattage, tastes much better from 9.5-12 watts. I like dual coil cartomizers best for the most part from my very limited, well maybe extensive for only being into the eCigs for 2 months…..tried alot so far.