I was fortunate to order the new DNA30 version of the Protovapor XPV back in February, before Protovapor was overwhelmed with orders and underwhelmed with supplies. How does this unique DNA30 mod perform? Read on…
What is the Protovapor XPV?
The Protovapor XPV is a DNA-equipped personal vaporizer. The original XPV featured an Evolv DNA20 chip. The next version implemented the DNA30 when it debuted in early 2014.
The XPV is hand-assembled. The body is constructed of aluminum, with various bits and flair made of plastic. It has a relatively large firing switch that can be ordered in smooth or clicky versions, and in several colors. In fact, the aluminum body, as well as the plastic trim can all be ordered in a variety of colors. You can also choose whether you want a pocket clip or not.
The device has a simple 510 connector (more on this later) and a choice of 18650 batteries, including Sony 2600mAh US18650VTC5, AW 1600mAh 18650 or LG 2500mAh 18650HE2. They are soldered in place, and considered not user-serviceable, unless you really trust your skills with a soldering iron. The XPV charges via micro USB (mostly DNA30 devices do) and includes a charge indicator light. Yay!
What’s Good About the XPV?
Because it’s made of mostly aluminum, the XPV is light. It is also relatively compact, measuring in at 115mm x 24mm x 24mm. From there it’s relatively standard DNA fare. If you’ve used one DNA device, you’ve pretty much used them all.
Battery life is quite good with any of the 18650 options, and should get most vapers through the day. If you’re like me, and either in front of a computer or in the car all day, the USB charging feature is very handy. My XPV rarely goes under 50% charge.
Waiting for a custom mod is a drag. Protovapor goes to great lengths on their site to publicize their waiting period. When you place your order, you know how long the wait will be. This is a very good thing, and I wish more companies in the vaping world did it. From what I’ve heard from other owners, Protovapor usually hits their deadlines. (Mine was two days late, but who’s counting?)
So What’s Bad?
Aluminum is light, but not particularly sturdy. I have yet to drop my XPV, but I can’t imagine it would react well to pavement. Typically I wrap my high-dollar mods, but with all the recesses, creases and bits of extruding flair, I can’t imagine getting a wrap around this thing. For this reason, I chose the extra safety of the pocket clip, but the XPV is still rather fragile.
One way the XPV differs from most DNA devices is it uses a rocker switch for wattage up/down. In theory, this seems like a good idea. In practice, not so much. The mushy, inaccurate rocker is right below the firing switch, and inadvertent wattage changes occur frequently. “But wait,” you say! “The DNA30 has a wattage lock feature!” It does indeed. However, to enable the wattage lock, you press both up and down buttons simultaneously. The choice of rocker switch means this feature can’t be used on a device that really needs it.
Some of the plastic finish on the XPV seems to be 3D printed. After just a few months, those pieces are dirty and beginning to show signs of wear. Not good. Not good at all.
This is nit-picky, I realize, but I hate the placement of the readout window. When firing, you’ve got to flip the mod around 180-degrees to check your battery/resistance/whatever. It just makes more ergonomic sense that the readout window would be on the same face as the switch.
OK, deep breath. Let’s talk about the 510 connector, where the XPV really struggles.
Failure to Connect
The XPV’s 510 connector isn’t bad, per se. It’s just… normal. And that’s not good enough on a $200 device with a 2-3 month waiting period. Protovapor recently introduced a much-improved 510, but that’s too little too late for the devices that have already shipped (and they have turned down my request for an upgrade).
The XPV has been around for a while, and it was well-known that the connector had the problem many do – the pin pushes down little by little until it no longer makes contact. Thankfully, this is not difficult to remedy. Just remove the four screws from the top of the device and it’s very simple to push the pin back into place. But again, this is simply not good enough for a $200 mod. And it’s even more frustrating that the makers knew about this problem. Hell, they even ship you a tighter o-ring to use around the pin that MIGHT fix the problem. Why they didn’t install it themselves before shipping is a mystery.
I was thrilled when my XPV arrived. I had a few other DNA mods, but this one was smaller, more tote-able and just seemed “different.” After a few months, the XPV has worked its way into my daily carry rotation, nudging out my ProVaris, which are doing a great job sitting in a vape stand, weeping with loneliness. The XPV is simply convenient. It fits in my pocket, has great battery life, can be charged at my workstation, and most importantly, it’s got that DNA magic.
However, this is a flawed device. The old connector is flat-out bad. For $200, I should not have to disassemble my device and futz with the firing pin. The new version shipping with an improved connector will be better, but that’s not the only flaw. As I mentioned previously, it’s also fragile, the plastic pieces are cheap, and the wattage selector switch is a poor design.
The Protovapor XPV is a decent mod, but not worth $200. What it does well is a product of the DNA chip, and there are more and more high-powered, variable-wattage options out there every day. For the price of an XPV, you can do better, or you can pay less and get a device of similar quality. I would recommend passing on the Protovapor XPV.