Volcano Lavatube Version 2 Review
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Volcano really shocked the e-cigarette world when they released the original Lavatube e-cigarette a little over a year ago. E-cigarette owners had become accustomed to the idea that an e-cigarette with variable voltage settings and solid safety features would set them back over $200, but Volcano came up with a plan to mass-produce a similar device and sell it for under $100. The Lavatube was an enormous hit, and I absolutely loved it. I gave it a perfect review because its combination of price, performance and features was simply unbeatable at the time.
Things move quickly in a new industry, though, and Volcano’s competitor ProVape quickly responded with the release of the ProVari Mini — a device that’s much smaller than the Lavatube but delivers more power with a higher over-current limit of 3.5 amps. Volcano’s forums began to rumble about the imminent release of a new Lavatube 2.0, and after a wait of nearly half a year it’s finally here.
Lavatube Version 2 Review: General Impressions
Upon removing the Lavatube Version 2 from its package, my first impression was that the pictures really fail to get across just how big this thing is. It’s bigger than the original Lavatube and feels nearly as heavy as the ProVari. However, the quality of the device is a huge step up from that of the original Lavatube. The Lavatube Version 2 lacks the plastic end caps of the original device, instead having two solid aluminum sections that screw together in the middle. The bottom section holds the battery while the top section contains the circuitry and control buttons.
Altogether, the Lavatube Version 2 is a very attractive package that doesn’t quite rival the ProVari in appearance but looks far more polished than the original Lavatube. The two solid aluminum halves of the device look like they could also withstand quite a bit of shock and abuse. The new blue and white screen is extremely readable, and the large fire button emits a solid “click” when pressed.
Aside from the enormous size, I have only two small problems with the design of the Lavatube Version 2. Firstly, I think the threading on the two halves could use a bit more sanding and/or lubrication. While the halves do screw together without squeaking, the threads are a bit on the rough side. Secondly, I’m confused about the decision to include a lanyard hole; as large and heavy as the new Lavatube is, I’m not sure why anyone would want to wear it around their neck.
Lavatube Version 2 Features
The feature set of the Lavatube Version 2 is very similar to that of the original Lavatube. The device adjusts between 3.0 and 6.0 volts and accepts any atomizer or cartomizer with 510 threading. eGo attachments, while thread-compatible, won’t work without a 510-to-eGo adapter. The two features of the Lavatube 2 not present in the original Lavatube are the ability to check the resistance of the connected atomizer or cartomizer by holding the “+” button and the higher over-current limit of 3.0 amps. The higher over-current limit allows the Lavatube 2 to support dual-coil and low-resistance attachments at up to 4.5 volts, while the original Lavatube only supported these attachments at up to 4.0 volts. The ProVari and ProVari Mini support these attachments at up to 5.0 volts.
If you drip e-liquid directly into your atomizer or cartomizer, you should take note of the fact that the Lavatube Version 2 has no drip well to speak of. There is a slight indentation at the top of the device for catching e-liquid, but the indentation leads directly to the lanyard hole and isn’t useful for catching leaks.
The controls of the Lavatube 2 are also dead simple compared to the single-button scheme of the ProVari. Using the three buttons, you can activate the device, adjust the voltage, check the battery charge level, check the resistance of your attachment and turn the Lavatube on and off. Many of these functions require more than ten button presses on the ProVari.
Lavatube Version 2 Performance
In terms of actual vapor production, the Lavatube Version 2 doesn’t quite measure up to the ProVari and, in fact, may not quite measure up to the original Lavatube in some cases. Testing the Lavatube 2 with a single-coil Boge 510 cartomizer, I had some airflow issues — perhaps because the threading is recessed so deeply within the device and because the the air holes are rather small. The airflow issue is only slight, but it’s noticeable when switching from a ProVari and not a problem I experienced with the original Lavatube. I don’t know if it’s because of the airflow issue or because of a difference in power, but the Lavatube 2 seems to produce a bit less vapor than the ProVari at six volts with a fully charged battery.
The original Lavatube had a bit of a problem with maintaining even vapor production over the charge cycle of the battery. Once the battery was half depleted, vapor production would drop noticeably. The new Lavatube has the same issue, although the drop is a bit less drastic. If it’s important to you that your last puff on an e-cigarette be the same as your first, you’ll want to grab an extra battery with the Lavatube Version 2 because you’ll get a bit less usage out of each charge than the battery’s full capacity.
Lavatube Version 2 Review: The Bottom Line
Although Volcano has greatly improved the fit and finish of the Lavatube and increased its performance slightly by raising the over-current limit, it’s a bit difficult for me to recommend it as highly as I did the original Lavatube. On one hand, the new Lavatube looks incredibly nice and is clearly better made than the previous model. On the other hand, the price for a full kit has been raised from $99.99 to $139.99 and the improvements from the previous model are mainly cosmetic. The price of the Lavatube is now much closer to that of the ProVari Mini, which is far smaller while being superior in terms of appearance and performance.
In the end, it comes down to your budget — much as it did with the original Lavatube. The Lavatube Version 2 offers performance far superior to that of any “mini” e-cigarette and costs $79.99 for the device only or $139.99 for a full kit. You can expect performance that’s great, but a bit less than that of the ProVari. If you can’t afford the ProVari, get the Lavatube. If you can afford the ProVari and won’t settle for less than the best performance available, the ProVari is still the superior option.