First a little history:
I'm a heavy smoker, I don't really know why. As a kid, my parents didn't smoke in front of me, I had uncles that smoked, but it wasn't appealing to me. I never smoked in high school, but in college I started smoking.
After that I felt like I was born in the wrong decade. I wished I had come of age in the late 50s or early 60s when one could smoke anywhere. I love the old editions of Emily Post etiquette books when it was considered rude to not provide individual ashtrays at the dinner table for each guest.
As we all know there are health concerns associated with smoking, both for the smokers and those around them. So in fall 2009 I ordered my first E-Cigarette from Blu, partly for the apparent health benefits and partly to avoid the recent PA smoking ban. From there I graduated to 510 style batteries.
The issues with the Blu, for me, were short battery life, and the automatic only battery style. As I said, I'm a heavy smoker and even with the Blu charging case, the kit wouldn't last for a work day without having to charge. Even with the 510 style I ended up carrying 5 or 6 batteries, and still continually charging batteries as they died.
Along with the battery issues, the Cartridges then were small. Usually holding about 1 mL of fluid, but they leaked, the fill used could dry with heavy use and possibly get scorched. The low volume and leaky carts meant carrying bottles of fluid. Not a horrible situation, but if I wanted to have a few flavors available it meant more bottles in my pockets. It got to be a chore carrying all of the chargers, bottles, and cartridges around, and if I ran out of any of the three, I was out of luck. Being able to get a pack of cigarettes literally anywhere was much more attractive, so after about 3 months, I went back to regular smokes.
The E-cigarettes weren't all bad, however. After a few weeks of using only E-cigarettes, it was like I had quit smoking. My senses of taste and smell got better, I felt healthier, and there wasn't ash everywhere around me. The inconvenience was just too much for me at the time.
About a year and a half after I gave up on E-cigarettes, I found Smokeless Image's Volt 808 style small battery kit, with a charging case and cartomizers, rather than separate cartridges and atomizers. The battery life was a little better, but all of the accessories I had for the 510 style weren't compatible. So I didn't use it much past the point that the sample carts in the kit ran out.
At that point, I didn't see much improvement over the situation I was in before. Two years later, a friend at work was using a Bloog 650 kit. The batteries are much bigger, and they can use clearomizers. These are tank style fluid holders that don't leak like the old style carts, don't use fill, and hold 1.6 mL of fluid. It's a much nicer system than the past.
So now I'm back on E-cigarettes, for now. I ordered the Bloog 650 Starter kit last week. I used it all weekend and didn't have to charge the battery until Monday afternoon. That sold me. This week I ordered some custom fluid from Heather's Heavenly Vapes and two more batteries from Smokeless Image. The new fluid is amazing, I forgot how much better small batch fluids are than the industrial fluids usually included in starter kits.
The batteries are the X2 which are comparable to the Bloog 650s, but have more variety in color, mAh capacity, and styles. Smokeless Image has passthrough style which let you use the battery while it's connected to its USB charging source and Spinners, which allow you to adjust the voltage going to the heating coil. I just got these today, but so far they seem to perform just as well as the Bloogs. I will say however that the Bloogs feel like a more polished product, the manual button feels nicer under the thumb, and it has a series of LEDs that indicate the level of charge left. They are a touch more expensive than the SI offering, and as I said only come in one mAh size, 650, and one color, black. If Bloog eventually offers larger capacity, adjustable voltage, or both, I would probably order exclusively from them. A choice of colors would be nice, but thats not really a priority for me.
Now, things still aren't perfect in the land of E-cigarettes. I still have to carry bottles of fluid to have a choice of flavors available. The batteries last longer now, but also take longer to charge, naturally. In getting my new setup, I spent what I would have spent in 3 weeks on regular cigarettes.
But now that I have the setup, continuing costs will be much lower, the price for fluid vs. cigarettes is ridiculously cheap. I hope to continue with the Ecigs for the foreseeable future.
I started with the eGo 510 and had the same annoyances you list though for the most part I was happy with it and liked it. That is until our mutual friend let me test his Bloog 650. Wow! I immediately ordered it.
That was a month or so ago so I felt it was time to step up again. I just got a VV 1300mAh battery and a bottom coil Clearo that holds 3ml (both 808 thread so I can still use my existing gear). If you decide you need more after your 650 I'd recommend going the VV route. The 3ml means I can vape all day and not have to refill.
Also, I've been using a free little iOS app called VapeMate you might want to check out. Keeps track, in real-time, all sorts of data. I haven't purchased an analog cig in 2 months and even though I've purchased 3 different sets and ungodly amounts of juice I've still saved nearly $200.
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