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Mark 10:27 - But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

SmokTech Natural + RSST Kit Review

UPDATE: Please participate in our anonymous POLL.  It's for a really good cause!

Critical Updates to this review can be found HERE

So I've had this kit in my possession now for a few days and I hate to say it, but this is going to be a mixed review.

The SmokTech Natural + RSST Kit is a very nicely "put together", matched set.  Not quite a hybrid (because it has a 510 connector), but it offers essentially the same functionality (albeit with one additional point of failure, the connector).  The tube of The Natural supports both 18350 & 18650 batteries.  There's a single removable tube that comes off if you want to use the smaller 18350.  SmokTech's website says that The Natural has both a 510 and an eGo thread on the connector, but this is not the case on the one I have.  The Natural has all of the standard things you'd expect to get from a Mechanical Mod like a top adjustable center post, a bottom spring adjustable battery terminal height screw (to adjust for different length 18650's or to compensate for a kick device with an 18350).  As this is a completely mechanical device (no wires), it also has a nice locking mechanism for the fire button.  It has a nice somewhat knurled nut around the activation button that you simply screw to lock and unscrew to use.

The finish of both devices is a brushed stainless steel, the tank is made of plastic and you get exactly what you see in the above referenced picture.  No SS mesh, no wire to wrap your first coil, no polishing cloth, and most disturbing of all, no extra/replacement washers or isolators.  I don't usually compare one device to another, but the AGA-T2 has all of the above replacement parts/initial setup parts included in a little spare parts bag.  The fact that it doesn't include any/all of those parts kicks this squarely off of the list of "beginner RBA's".

Next, function.  It functions in exactly the same manner as the AGA-T2, with a couple of major differences.  First of all, due to the way this device is constructed, IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO LEAK FROM THE 510 CONNECTOR.  This of course is a near impossibility for the AGA-T2.  My device DOES experience the leakage issue.  It's not horrible, but again, this is another reason that it kicks itself off of any beginner's RBA list.

Instead of including a kit with extra parts/setup parts, they opted to include that matching stainless drip tip pictured above.  That would be a great addition, if it actually FIT in the hole on the top cap.  Upon inspection, it is clear that the hole in the top cap has been drilled too wide to fit any normal, off the shelf 510 drip tip, including the one that comes with it.  I have concluded that this is not an isolated incident, as the solution for this is to "wrap some dental floss under the o-ring".  I haven't done this yet, but I suspect it will alleviate the problem, not fix it.

One thing that could be really nice (but isn't), is the spring loaded centerpost on the RSST.  It would be nice, if the spring was a little "softer".  Due to its rigidnesss, it's very difficult to depress the washer that keeps it in place and makes it somewhat challenging to connect your coil wire to it and to remove it.  The spring loaded design (the way SmokTech chose to implement it on the RSST) is the PRIMARY cause of the leaking.

So with all of the bad out of the way, there are some good things.  For instance, SmokTech has included a small silicone fill-hole plug on the RSST.  Most people I've spoken to aren't using it for the sake of convenience.  I on the other hand have opted to use it, because I'm very interested to see if that small plug will prevent condensation from the top cap from dripping back down into the tank, which has a tendency to both discolor and potentially change the flavor of your eJuice.  Well, after a few days (which included a weekend), I can safely say that I haven't experienced any discoloration or flavor change in my eJuice.  A fact that I'm pretty stoked about.

Added 4/12/2013: I can confirm that the fill-hole plug IS the reason that the eJuice is not turning colors/changing flavor.  I tested the RSST without it for a day and the eJuice did change color/flavor.  I put it back in and it doesn't do it any more.  Bonus thumbs up for the fill-hole plug!

Next, the wick-hole on the RSST is LARGE.  It's larger than any wick-hole I've seen or heard about anywhere else.  I haven't measured it myself, but I'm told that it's a 3.5mm hole as opposed to the 2.0-3.0mm holes on most other RBA's.  What does this equate to?  Well let's put it this way....  If you're using a SS mesh (like I am), it means that you need a slightly wider piece of mesh than you would have for your AGA-T2 or the like.  The most interesting thing about the larger wick, is that I SEEM TO BE going through LESS eLiquid than I would normally use on my AGA-T2.  This currently has me baffled.  So far, I can't figure out WHY this should be the case, but it is.  I normally go through 2 tanks a day, with the RSST, I'm going through 1 tank, with a little left to spare.

Added 4/10/2013: One thing I hadn't noticed until today, is that the RSST has a tighter draw than the AGA-T2 does.  How much tighter?  A LOT.  The RSST has a draw much more like an Analog than the AGA-T2.  The T2's draw is closer to a Clearomizer than a cigarette.  So if you're trying to get something really close to the draw of a regular, plain old cigarette, there might be an RSST in your future (if you can get past its shortcomings).

My overall rating on the RSST is not good though.

a. I can't under ANY circumstances recommend this for a beginner

b. It doesn't come with ANY spare parts or initial setup parts
c. It LEAKS, it leaks, it leaks
d. It's unnecessarily expensive for a basic RBA (street price is about $40, the AGA-T2 is about $25)

Added 5/26/2013: I have pretty much stopped using this RBA.  Its flavor reproduction is a 2 out of 10.  If your taste buds are dead due to so many years of smoking, you probably won't notice.  So if that's the case, and if you can get past the dripping 510 connector, the RSST Vapes really well.

IMPORTANT: If you're thinking about getting an RBA, because you're trying to get a better more consistent Vape, then perhaps you should check out the Kanger ProTank FIRST!  It's half the price of the RSST, Vapes like a dream AND it produces great flavor!

As for The Natural, I say get one, I highly suggest that you read my review followup 
HERE, before you get one!  The only negative (which I don't really see as one), is that your RBA's will not sit FLUSH on The Natural.  I have uncovered additional negatives, PLEASE read the followup review to make a more informed decision.  The 510 connector is designed to support devices OTHER than RBA's, so they've included the standard channels for air-flow.  I have seen many people grind the connector down to enable a flush-mount setup though, so if you need to have a more seamless setup, then it's do-able.

NOTE: I've notified the retailer I purchased this kit from about the deficiencies (leaking and drip tip hole), and I've also contacted SmokTech directly.  The retailer (Vapor Tek USA) responded within an hour and promised to contact SmokTech and they also asked me to send an email to SmokTech as well.  Nothing makes me happier, than a retailer who is RESPONSIVE.  Now we'll have to see if SmokTech feels the urge to reply too.

NOTE 2: I've gone ahead and posted a "review followup" blog entry located HERE...

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(image used above sourced from Google)

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