Saturday, April 1, 2017
Arizer offers big vape from relatively small devices
By Jim Bray
Recreational marijuana may still be illegal in Canada and elsewhere, but that hasn't stopped modern technology from marching in and helping "heads" enjoy their poison of choice safely and more subtly than by burning it.
That's because vapourizers don't actually combust the herb; instead, they heat it up to a point where it releases its "goodness" without actually setting it on fire. The result can be less marijuana consumption (vaping uses less than, say, rolling the stuff up into papers), less of that obvious marijuana smell and - perhaps most important - less chance of harmful gases from combustion going into the vaper's lungs.
If you can believe politicians, it may be only a matter of time before the casual use of pot becomes legal in Canada. Prime Minister Just-in Two-d'oh! made legalization one of the major planks during his successful campaign to replace Stephen Harper's Conservative government and perhaps someday he'll make good on that promise.
Then again, he's a politician - and a Liberal one at that - so his promises may not be worth any more than the hot air with which he exhaled them. But recent history in other jurisdictions seems to point toward the evil weed not being considered so evil anymore, so time will tell what happens here in the Great Green North. Heck, I know a guy who jokes that the stuff should be mandatory, so some "tightly wrapped" folks can "lighten up".
In the meantime, medical marijuana is being taken more seriously and people are being allowed to "imbibe" legally via that distinction. It isn't difficult to find THC products, too, including candy and capsules, if you know where to look, and from what I've been told the independent small businessmen who've been filling a free market need for decades (yeah, the "dealers") are still doing a bang up business.
This being a tech column, I'm not going to get into the morality or legality of marijuana any more than I just did. The focus of this piece is two vapourizers from Canada's Arizer, who made the big "Extreme Q" we looked at in my last such column, which was a follow up to another column I wrote after I was offered review units of several current vapourizer products.
Looking at these things has been a really eye opening experience. I had no idea there were so many different ways to vape - so many solutions for using a product that in most jurisdictions is still capable of getting you into trouble with "The Man" (or is it "The Person"?).
As before, I assembled a panel of friends and acquaintances to test the units. These are people who've been partaking of pot for decades, responsible citizens who happen to enjoy marijuana when the workday is done - just like they enjoy beer, or wine, or whiskey (or all of them at once!). I introduced them to the vapourizers I was sent, they provided the insights and I took the notes.
The two vapourizers that are the focus of this piece are variations on the same theme. The larger one, the Arizer Solo, has apparently been around snice 2011, while the smaller one - the Arizer Air - is a more recent addition to Arizer's line.
The $199 CAD Solo is very easy to use, though you will have to perform periodic maintenance to keep it nice and clean inside (ditto for the Air). This is relatively easy to do with the Solo by simply (and carefully, so you don't ruin the thread) screwing off the top of the unit and going at the "non-combustion chamber" with Kleenex or a Q-tip. The glass parts need more cleaning, but in our tests we'd just dump 'em into a bath of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) and leave them there for a couple of days (fortunately, both the Solo and the Air come with extra tubes, for "no wait toking"). Then we'd wash 'em with clean water and dry them with Kleenex or toilet paper.
The Solo consistently produced smooth, tasty, and potent vapour, thanks undoubtedly to its ceramic heating element. The panellists loved the vapour's quality and taste, and the large clouds of the stuff it emitted, and once we fired up the Solo (and the Air) very little work got done. Fortunately, we'd met in a pub…
Arizer says the Solo's battery will last up to two hours of continuous run-time, which you'll probably never do since it shuts off after 12 minutes to save battery life. Even if you do run out of juice, you can use the Solo while it's recharging - assuming you're close to AC power or have purchased an optional charger, one of which is designed to be used with a car's power outlet.
Operation is simple. There are two top buttons that double as on/off and up/down for the temperature (the panel found the fourth highest of the seven settings to be a wonderful vape creator) and the vertical row of seven lights lets you know what temperature you've chosen. The light just above the seven flashes until the unit has reached your chosen temperature, then stays on steadily. The panelists found that if you wait until the flashing stops for a second time the vapour would come even better.
The Solo can be used as a portable vapourizer, though the Air performs that task better thanks to its
smaller size and included carrying case and skin. But thanks to the silicone caps for the glass tubes that are included in the Solo's package, you can pre-load the tubes and take them with you (carefully, since they're glass) and pack the vapourizer itself separately, which should make it more "travel friendly".
The folks at Toronto Vaporizer have published a plethora of supposed customer reviews and judging by what those folks say, my panellists are definitely not alone in loving the Solo, though a couple of those reviewers complained about the battery. My panel had no such issues, however, during our admittedly short term tests, and the consensus was that the Solo is a wonderful unit - possibly the best of the ones I've written about in this series.
And if you want to wear your "Great White North" credentials on your sleeve, there's a $219 CAD white "Northern Lights" edition that comes with a cool green light on its base and charging station.
As great as the Solo is, its days may be numbered! Arizer's website says there's a Solo II coming "soon," so depending on how it stacks up it may be worth waiting for. But if you can't wait, the redness of my panellists' eyes tells me that the current Solo can serve you very well.
I'll try to get my hands on a Solo II when it's available and let you know how my "bud"dies think it stacks up.
Putting on Airs…
Think of the $229 CAD Arizer Air as a smaller and even more portable version of the Solo. The vapour quality is nearly identical to that of the Solo - which is exactly what you want - though while the smaller size and carrying case/skin makes it more portable, it also means you get a smaller battery. Therefore, according to Arizer, you can only expect "up to an hour of continuous run-time." That said, the Air has the capacity to exchange batteries, and you can use it while charging.
Inside the Air is a ceramic chamber similar to the Solo's and the glass tubes are interchangeable between the two units. The Air's tubes are shorter than the Solo's (though they're about the same as the Solo's as far as the amount of stuff you can put in them at a time) and one of them comes with a handy, screw off plastic tip that's kind of reminiscent of an oboe's reed.
Operation is similar but not identical to the Solo. With the Air, you only have one button and fewer lights, but the system works well as long as you're not so loaded you forget your basic motor skills. There's a rocker-type/push button that doubles as power on/off and temperature up/down, and a couple of LED's, and that's it.
Hold the entire button down for a couple of seconds and the top light flashes blue for an instant to let you know it's been activated. You then choose your temperature with the up/down movement, and the little light above it will change colour depending on what level you choose (red is hottest). Even slicker, hold the down (bottom) part of the button for a couple of seconds after the Air is fired up and it'll return to your last chosen setting.
You don't get seven settings like you do on the Solo, but my panel didn't care - and as it turned out they only used settings four and five on the Solo anyway once they'd gotten familiar with it.
As with the Solo, heat up is quick (only a couple of minutes - depending of course on how hot you're going to make it) and the vape is, well, classic. It's very much like the Solo's performance, only more easily portable.
Arizer says it uses glass tubes instead of plastic because "they are inert/toxin free and help to release flavorful oxygen-rich vapor without the diminished flavors and harshness found in other products."
There are glass screens built into the tubes, but the panellists found that if you grind the herb too finely (and you must grind it) it'll go right through the little holes and up the tube. So they bought some cheap pipe screens and that worked better - though mounting them is a bit of a pain and they couldn't stuff as much stuff into them at a time. It wasn't a big deal, however, since the quality of the vapour was such that no one complained.
The portability of the Air is outstanding. While it doesn't seem as rugged as the Summit+ the panel tackled in the first column (a unit that's designed specifically to be used in the great outdoors), it's definitely no slouch. The silicone "vape condom" that comes in the box can help prevent shock damage if you're so loaded you can't hold the Air unaided, and the carrying case has spaces for both of the little glass tubes you get, so you can pre-"load" them via the included silicone caps. You also get a little metal stir stick you can use to get a little more out of your herbs.
It's best to fill the glass tubes with the receptacle part facing up (because, thanks to gravity, your stuff will end up on the ground otherwise), and it's also best to insert them into the Air or Solo upside down as well, for the same reason. It seems a tad awkward, but it works fine.
Cleaning the "Glass Aroma Tube with Tip" (the one that looks like an oboe reed) is a tad more difficult than the other, all-glass tube - or either of the Solo's tubes (one of which is straight and one of which has an elbow bend in it, presumably for when you're out bending your elbow and need a vape). That's because you have to screw off the tip (you don't want to dump the plastic into the isopropyl) and the entry hole into the tube that's revealed is a lot smaller than the ends of the other tubes. Therefore, you may want to keep some pipe cleaners, Q-tips, or even some of the "Dr. Dabber Iso-snaps" I mentioned in my last vapourizer piece.
On the other hand, you'll probably want to keep such stuff on hand anyway, for cleaning any of the glass tubes as well as the interior of either vapourizer.
As it turned out, the panel was very taken with both Arizer products. They loved the Air even more than the Solo, though, for its smaller size and even better portability - and the consensus was that if they could only have one they'd take the Air, even with its shorter battery life.
Toronto Vaporizer customers were for the most part highly complimentary of the Air as well, with some reviewers even saying they'd dumped competitive vapourizers in favour of it.
For those who want their vapourizers to be a tad more subtle, Arizer even includes a little glass potpourri holder and some potpourri with each model, so you can leave it proudly on display when guests come over, pretending that's what the vapourizer is really for. None of the panel seemed to care about that aspect, though, preferring "pot" over "pot-pourri".
For some insight into the vapourizer market, the issue of marijuana itself, and a look at the vapourizers the panel tried before, here's another link to that first, and second, column.
It seems you can't go wrong with either of these Arizer products, the Air and the Solo. Both give approximately equal performance - size and battery capacity issues notwithstanding - and the performance is outstanding, so your decision will undoubtedly hinge more on how and where you want to use it.