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Eleaf Icare & Icare Mini review

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Noe, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. Noe

    Noe Adorably quirky ... QUIRKY Noe! VCA Approved Post Whore

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    Thanks to @Pippi who was kind enough to send both the Icare & the Icare Mini to me for evaluation & review, I have had a chance to test the Icare & Icare Mini.
    Much of this review has been posted in another thread, in separate posts but I felt it should all be collected & given its own dedicated review thread.

    I received the Icare Mini first & these were my initial thought/observations:


    First the size, it's tiny without the PCC, shorter than an analog cancer stick & almost as wide as three cancer sticks, so easily able to be used for stealth on the size front.
    However, it crackles & using it for stealth in close proximity to someone is not going to work well, it is quite audible & could be heard, I don't know if I would try to use this on a plane for example, the noise from using it could get other passengers curious.

    Airflow adjustment,this isn't as bad as I had expected, it is possible to adjust the AFC without tanking the coil out of the device but it is not easy to do that way, using a dressmakers pin (regular metal head pin) or a piece of kanthal((what I used) SS, Nichrome etc would also work) wire, you can spin the AFC ring by placing the end into one of the AFC holes, of course you won't really know how much adjustment you made this way, unless you are very familiar with how the AFC works.
    The AFC ring can also be taken off completely for more airflow but I tried this & it seemed to be over wicking when I used it like that.

    (click pics for full size)
    [​IMG]

    Filling is a pain, it's a messy affair, especially if you fill just a tad over the fill line (like I did, just a few drops), then juice wants to leak out from everywhere it can. Ok so don't over fill & there shouldn't be a problem but don't try to fill with the light off or quickly as it is easy to over fill by even a few drops, which will cause a problem.

    Autofiring, this was one of my biggest worries about this device & due to the leak I had from filling,I had an unexpected opportunity to test this out.
    With the subsequent cleaning I tried to suck the juice out of the base & from around the fill window using my mouth, so that juice was not inside the device. That caused it to autofire, what's more when it started it wouldn't stop even with me trying to vape on it normally, the only way I could make it stop was by blowing into the device from the base where the USB port is. However I tested this again & trying to stop the autofire by blowing air in this way did not work the second time.
    My best advice is, if it starts to autofire, vape on it normally until the safety cut off kicks in, then it should work normally again.
    Because of the autofire & because I was trying different things to make it stop, the first time when I tried vaping on it normally, the device had also filled the vapor tube with ejuice, which when I tried to vape filled my mouth with hot liquid.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Ok so that isn't the full story of the Icare & under normal circumstances, I think the device is quite good. It definitely is not something I would recommend to a beginner though, these are real problems that a newby could encounter & if they experienced the autofire issue in particular, would possibly be put off of vaping altogether.

    The coil I have in now, seems to be over wicking, using a pretty standard(for me) 60/40 PG/VG blend, I think these prefer a higher VG juice in them but I won't vape any higher than 50/50, too much VG gives me tightness in the lungs, followed by mild pain if I don't back off.
    Not really sure what to do to try to fix that, the wick holes are small already & blocking one off is going to possibly cause a dry side, which I don't want to have, then there's the issue of how to block it off in any case.
    All I know is I wouldn't be trusting these in my pocket if the amount of gurgling & juice in the mouth I get is going to continue.

    Flavorwise, I am not unhappy. I knew before trying the Icare Mini that it would be weak on flavor, from other people's reports, so I substituted some plain PG for flavor concentrate in my juice mix, doubling the amount of flavor used in my regular mixes & the flavor is stronger than it needs to be.
    I didn't use my regular test flavor (Bewdy), since I suspected I would want a very strong nic content & Bewdy would taste quite different unsteeped & with the nic strength increased. I tried my regular 24mg/ml & a 12mg/ml blend first but both were not doing it for me, so next was 50mg/ml, which seems to be effective enough in this device.
    I still went with a tobacco flavor but mixed up a custom blend, DiY on the fly, using flavors I knew would have a strong tobacco taste & a little Mothers Milk WTA (which has the taste of tobacco too), then added 50% 100mg/ml nic in 100%PG base & added plain VG to 40% (approx). So it would be hard for me to reduce the amount of PG, without using a VG based nic base, which I don't have. If I wasn't using super concentrates, then I don't think I would be able to get enough flavor into the juice either, without sacrificing nic strength.

    Overall it just about works, flavor is good, nic strength is about where I need it to be in the Icare, PG/VG ratio suits me but the gurgling is more than annoying. A little gurgle I can deal with, constant gurgles with juice spitting into my mouth I don't want to deal with but it's still early days & I'll see if it improves or if I can solve the riddle of making it gurgle-less.

    My thoughts after receiving the Icare a few weeks later:

    Well thanks to @Pippi, I now have both the Icare & the Icare Mini to test.
    Anyone that has been following this thread would know that the Mini arrived first & I was having issues with it gurgling & spitting.
    Again thanks to Pippi, the Icare arrived with a spare pack of coils hidden in the box, which she couldn't find "anywhere", so she ordered another pack to send to me via FT :facepalm:
    Anyhow, I put a new coil into the mini & that seems to have solved the gurgling & spitting issues.
    However this is still an issue, if some coils are going to spit & gurgle, it could turn newbies off of vaping, especially if it's the coil that came installed in the device like it was with the Mini I recieved.

    So I have been testing the Icare a little & today, I tried a bit of chain vaping, nothing drastic just 4 good strong puffs in a row, on the 4th puff the vape started to taste like the cotton had burnt a little.
    Further puffs have confirmed this, so there's another dead coil.
    Newbies are likely to also experience this, especially if they are using low strength nicotine in this device, which really needs double strength nicotine to what most other devices use.
    Again, this is going to put some newbies off.

    Aside from the gurgling/spitting coils & the chance of burning the wicks when chain vaping, I do quite like the idea behind the Icares, they're small & stealthy but I don't think they are a newby device at all.
    Their biggest potential is for experienced vapers, that want something small & stealthy, that they can just have a few quick puffs on & slip it back into a pocket etc., without having to use a larger & probably better device at delivering the type of vape they enjoy.
    These Icares will not deliver excellent flavor, they will not deliver huge clouds, what they will do is help you satisfy a nicotine craving, if you double up on the nicotine strength of your ejuice. If you don't double the strength, you are going to want to be puffing on the Icares quite a lot, risking burning your wicks & running the battery life out in short time.

    So since I had a dead coil to play with, I thought I would take it apart & try a rebuild, I will post more pics of the rebuild later but I tried to install a clapton coil, to try to get more flavor out of the device. Unfortunately, the coil I installed had too low of a resistance & the Icare kept flashing at me when I tried to puff on it, which is good because this proves it has low ohm/short circuit protection.
    The coil I put in I measured at between 0.8 - 0.9 ohms on my 521Tab, using the clamps on the coil to measure isn't the most accurate way to get a reading on the 521Tab but it was good enough to let me know there was not short circuit & an approximate ohm range.
    The build wasn't too difficult but it took time because everything was fiddly, had I tried using thinner wire, I am sure the ohms would have been higher & the Icare would now be using a rebuilt coil.

    Here is what the insides of the Icare coils look like, the wick is 1 long piece of compressed cotton sheet & 1 short piece wrapped around the coil inner. (click to see full size):
    [​IMG]


    Final thoughts:

    With the Mini, I am still getting some leaking/seeping issues from around the bottom of it, it's not a huge amount but it shouldn't be happening at all.
    As it is a sealed unit, that looks to have been press fitted together, taking it apart to investigate & try to solve the problem may end up destroying the Mini. Since the Mini has a PCC that it sits in, any leaks are contained between the Mini & the base it sits on/in.
    I think rather than taking it apart, I will just carry a tissue with me & wipe the seepage away as needed.

    The Icare & the Icare Mini have similar but different mouth pieces, the air hole for vapor to come through to your mouth is a little different on each. The Icare's air hole is very slightly larger, I think that the Mini having a slightly reduced air hole is/was contributing to the gurgling issues I was having. The gurgling is resolved now but I am still getting some juice/condensation build up around the Mini's mouth piece, that I am not getting with the Icare, it's not a lot but it builds over time.

    [​IMG]

    If you blow, rather than suck from the mouth piece, you can cause both Icares to autofire, since they have a safety cut out time of 10secs, if this occurs the best way to deal with it is to vape normally while it is firing (to prevent juice building up in the coil & subsequent gurgling), then when it stops firing it should work as normal again.
    For a newby, an autofire situation would be quite scary I think, even for experienced vapers an autofire may cause some alarm. This is another reason I don't think these devices should be recommended to new vapers.

    When charging the Icares, I had/have trouble trying to identify when the Icare was/is fully charged but in the Icare manual it says when the red light goes out it is fully charged.
    IMO this is confusing, it would have been easy for Eleaf to add a flashing green light when it reached a fully charged state, even if it flashed for a few seconds & went out. Then when you took the USB plug out & put it back in you'd be able to see the flashing green LED & know for certain it was fully charged.
    Likewise, the mini does the same thing when on the PCC or when using the USB to charge.
    Eleaf has added Tri-color LEDs for when puffing on the Icares, so you can see the charge state as you use the devices but this is not easy to see in all situations & some users are going to have more difficulty seeing it this way than others. I found the best way to see the LED color was to put the Icare into my mouth sideways with the ejuice window upwards & puff on the Icare.

    [​IMG]

    As noted above, I think the Icare & the Icare Mini are good for experienced vapers wanting a stealth device but I do not think these are devices for new vapers, there are many issues with them that could turn new vapers off of vaping & see them back on cancer sticks.
    There are far better products available to new vapers, the new generation of all-in-one devices for instance.
    For experienced vapers though, these could come in handy in many situations, I think the Icare performs slightly better than the Mini but there is not a lot in it, if your situation requires better battery life, then the Mini is the obvious choice with its PCC.

    The seeping issue could just be & is likely to be a problem with the unit I have but in the time it has taken me to collate & write this review, having wiped the seepage away when I began, I have just noticed it is starting to seep again. It's more of a slight film than drops or a slick of juice but it would become a slick given more time. I certainly think that the issue could occur with the Icare also, both are similarly manufactured, sealed units & are mass produced.
    However, it is still a device I would use, in the right situations, even with this slight issue.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
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  2. Noe

    Noe Adorably quirky ... QUIRKY Noe! VCA Approved Post Whore

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    Reserved for coil rebuilding photos.
     
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  3. Pippi

    Pippi Admin Moderator

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    Location:
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    Thanks Noe - Excellent review and the issues I had were the same as those you mentioned above.
    I personally wouldn't even use it for a stealth vape though as I really disliked the whole experience with both the Mini and the standard.
     
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  4. margyb

    margyb Great Balls of Fire

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    What I haven't figured out is how can you tell when your battery is getting low
    please?
     
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  5. Pippi

    Pippi Admin Moderator

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    I didnt try it long enough for the battery to go flat but maybe it flashes? @Noe ?
     
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  6. RC.

    RC. Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    Location:
    Sydney, Hills District
    From Eleaf Site, but I had to decide whether to post it or not as I am not Noe:D

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. margyb

    margyb Great Balls of Fire

    Joined:
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    Thanks
    Mine is always on yellow
    Will Charge again and see if it goes green
    Really hard to see as mine only works when I puff on it ( need to look in a mirror to see colour) Negative point about it
    i will report back if colour doesn't change :):)
     
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  8. RC.

    RC. Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Mine are a sort of yellowish green on full charge, I just cup my hand around it while puffing for a bit of darkness and look at it.

    But having said that my ones really don't get to discharge much as I don't go out very often and if I do, not for long.

    At home I tend to keep them topped up on charge as it is a part of my OCD-ness.

    I guess I should bite the bullet, so to speak, and let them discharge just to see what happens.
     
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  9. Noe

    Noe Adorably quirky ... QUIRKY Noe! VCA Approved Post Whore

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    If you have eliquid that is a yellowish or brownish color (like most are) in the Icare, the red light can look Orangish & the green light Yellowish.
    If you turn the Icare or mini sideways to vape on, with the juice window upwards, then puff on it while looking down you should be able to see the light color fairly easily, even in a lit room but perhaps not in sunlight.

    I had/have trouble trying to identify when the Icare was/is fully charged but in the Icare manual it says when the red light goes out it is fully charged.
    IMO this is confusing, it would have been easy for Eleaf to add a flashing green light when it reached a fully charged state, even if it flashed for a few seconds & went out. Then when you take the USB plug out & put it back in you'd be able to see the flashing green LED & know for certain it was fully charged.
    Likewise, the mini does the same thing when on the PCC or when using the USB to charge.

    Thanks @margyb & @RC., I forgot to add that into my review, going to edit & add it now :)
     
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  10. Malestorm21

    Malestorm21 Banned

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    Dec 16, 2016
    I have bought two of these, one for myself and one for a gift. I think these are very good as well as the price, nope, I do not have an issue with the LED.
     
  11. Noe

    Noe Adorably quirky ... QUIRKY Noe! VCA Approved Post Whore

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    As long as you are happy with it, why not :)

    Since getting the Aspire Pockex, I don't think I'll have much use,if any, for the Icares.
     
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  12. Malestorm21

    Malestorm21 Banned

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    Dec 16, 2016

    When I am driving I do not need a fancy device with all the whistles and bells. I prefer a portable, manageable, unit, easily stored and found when needed. Pen type devices have always been a pain in the A for me.
     
  13. DogMan

    DogMan Yes

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  14. Pippi

    Pippi Admin Moderator

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    waiting on Tez to do a penguin write up - I am still looking for the perfect little discreet vape that really works.
    Dont think I would revisit the icare again.
     
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  15. DogMan

    DogMan Yes

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    S/E Melbourne
    Tez said on AVF he had a rough week. Give him a while I think.

    Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk
     
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  16. Pippi

    Pippi Admin Moderator

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    Always... Tez is awesome and we can easily be patient. :)
     
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