Saturday, April 17, 2010

The MKI Screwdriver - first impressions

After seeing this device reviewed by several people, I just knew I had to have one. The reasons are as follows:

  • The device is adaptable, therefore can use a variety of atomisers;
  • It is solidly built and has a proven track record; and
  • Comes with a common 1000 mAh battery.
The Screwdriver (SD) from Trog is not to be mistaken with the DSE-905 which is a Chinese knock off. This is the real McCoy. It is surprisingly small all things considered. Until you actually hold one in your hand, it is hard to fathom how tiny this thing actually is. Lengthwise it is the same length (excluding the button) as the eGo by Janty. Its girth at the maximum width (about the same place where the eGo button is) is 13/16". The ergonomics of the device will situate the ridge between your index and middle finger, when the button rests on the pinky. Holding or vaping on the device is comfortable.

The review
Unlike most kits when purchased, the SD did not come packaged in a box, but bubble wrap. It was however well packaged, thus protecting the parts from banging with each other. The contents were also contained in a bubble wrap envelop, I would have preferred a "shipping box". The package contained the following:

  • 2 body assemblies (one was part of a promotion) fitted with selected connector;
  • 2 16340 unprotected batteries rated at 1000 mAh;
  • 2 RN4075 atomisers (my selection) also known as the minis or 901s complete with tips;
  • 2 spare cartridges (carts) filled with SD liquid (which is a Flue cured variant);
  • 1 15ml SD liquid;
  • 1 "nano" single battery charger;
  • 1 wrist lanyard;
  • 1 neck lanyard;
  • 1 carrying case; and
  • A set of instructions.
The unit comes ready to go. Since there was no special instructions with regards to the batteries and, since both tested out at 4 volts, I slid one into the unit, screwed on the atomiser (atty) without any difficulty and inserted a pre-filled cart. After priming the atty with a couple of drops of the SD liquid I vaped away. There was no foul taste we sometimes experience with new atties. The SD cart was good, providing a mild TH and decent vapour. The unit provided 3 or 4 decent hits then died off. The unit is well built and the button only requires slight pressure from the pinky to activate the atomiser. It is reported that the button's spring tension is a mere 100g.

After checking out the batteries on a multi-meter and confirming power was still available (3.87 Volts), and checking that the cart contained liquid and priming once again the atomiser, I gave it another whirl. Again 2-3 decent hits, and then it would die off.

Frustrated, having the necessary adapter, I installed a 510 atty and the unit performed flawlessly. I re-installed the RN4075 with the same results as before. Here we go again... So I decided to install a fresh 510 atomiser and use the cart that came with the unit. The cart performed flawlessly, and vapour was excellent. Conclusion - unless the RN4075 is primed just right, it will not energise properly. I tried the other atomiser that came with the kit, with the same results. Now I wish I had ordered the unit with the 510 connection.

In all fairness the RN4075 provides a cooler vape ideal for first thing in the morning with the supplied liquid, which I utilised the following morning intermittently. Regardless of the variations I performed the following morning the RN4075 was still asleep. I have more atties coming and will try those, when they arrive. To date (almost a week) I cannot get these atties to perform.

First Impressions
The unit is slick and priced reasonably at $122 shipped to Canada from the UK. It did not perform as expected with the mini, but performed well with the 510 atomiser fitted. The stock (RN4075) atomisers are not becoming seasoned nor improving with age. I have tried to season them on regulated 3.7 volt devices to no avail. I have varied the cart filling with various known cartrige modifications (cart mods) to no avail.

  • The batteries are overrated and their longevity falls way short from the advertised 1000 mAh expectations;
  • The charger barely holds the battery in place (not enough tension) which makes it difficult to use in any position off horizontal. Even after gently prying/bending the contacts closer;
  • The charger is inadequate to charge the 16340s - 6-8 hrs plus to charge a battery from dead. I use my multi charger with better results, although nothing to write home about. On one occasion the battery was in the charger for over 8hrs. I took it out and checked the voltage 4.1 volts. The charger's light never changed. I do not like nor trust this charger, and would definitely not recommend it's use to anyone (especially with non-protected batteries). The battery on a different occasion re-charged in 6 hrs from dead on my own charger;
  • The unit cannot be pocketed perse without unscrewing the atomiser as the button is too delicate. This has been addressed if - you want to use the neck lanyard, but there are occasions the last thing I want is a screwdriver hanging from my neck. I have since made a button protector, similar to the one available with the MKII from an 801 cart protector.
  • The unit feels and looks well made. The ergonomics make the device a pleasure to vape;
  • The battery slips into the unit effortlessly and does not have any exaggerated movement within the sleeve. This is accomplished with a o-ring fitted above the switch at the bottom of the battery carrier;
  • The SD now comes fitted with an all mechanical switch which is stock on the MKII; and
  • The top spring is said to act as a fuse, should an atomiser short circuit occur. Also fitted in the top cover is another o-ring which maintains the battery in proper alignment against the spring.
Some final thoughts - The unit performs as expected for a 3.7V device. Not being an HV (high voltage) vaper, it has a place in my daily arsenal. I ordered the MKI because I was under the impression (from the vendors site) that the MKI was retro-fitted to incorporate the modifications of the MKII. This is not so:

  • It does not have the switch cover, nor the extra battery capacity;
  • However in all fairness the o-rings which I believe are indeed part of the MKII and the MKII switch form part of the unit;
  • The information contained on the site with regards to spare parts is ambiguous at best, with regards to what fits what, unlike the Totally Wicked site (their main distributor in the UK and teh US); and
  • Certain parts can only be ordered as part of larger package deals.
It is a little pre-mature to offer a thorough review with regards to the SD. I will do a follow up at a later date as these are just my first impressions. However, I believe the developers sat far too long on a great product, enjoying the fruits of their labour vice improving the device, in doing so, I further believe they would have earned a greater market share, with some very minor tweaks.

There's a consensus of "why change something that isn't broke". True, but the Studebaker has long been a part of history. A good device that never kept up with the times!

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