October 2016

Vape Forward: Cync Standard Battery

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By John Castle

Following our article on Vape Forward’s shift from high-end mods like Vaporflask, to its rebirth and continued dedication to bringing products to market aimed at helping more smokers switch to vaping, we present the following review of the flagship product in that effort: The Vape Forward Cync.

The Cync starter kit with 1.5ml capacity refill pods, like all modern closed system vaping products, is aimed directly at smokers who have finally decided to make the switch.

Cync is a Closed System Vapor device, distinct from a “cig-alike” in that it resembles a combustible cigarette in shape and size only, and even then so loosely that it could never be mistaken for a cigarette even at a passing glance.

For the purpose of this review, I purchased the following Cync products:

  • One Cync Starter Kit, containing a standard battery and one NJOY Classic tobacco refill pod in 48mg nicotine strength
  • One Cync Stealth Battery, Graphite in color and in the 1.5ml size
  • One four-pack of NJOY Bold Tobacco refill pods in 48mg strength
  • One four-pack of Cuttwood Vapors’ Tobacco Trail refill pods in 2mg strength

I selected these products because I felt most confident that a current smoker would likely be attracted to them as an impulse purchase at places such as a drugstore or a convenience store. As such, Cync is a direct competitor for products such as the Pax JUUL and the R.J. Reynolds Vapor Vuse systems.

There is also, however, a range of 2.5ml refill pods and batteries intended to provide the power and capacity to match them; those products are aimed more directly toward long-time vapers, and will be the subject of a follow up review.

One thing that should be pointed out for the purposes of this review is that this is first-production-run hardware. With that in mind, I’m going into this expecting a minor glitch here and there.

Presentation

The packaging for the Cync starter kit, additional batteries and refill pods is frustration-free and uncomplicated. A black background sports color imagery of the product inside with “Cync” written in silver above additional white text.

The battery for the starter kit is housed in a paper sleeve within the box, which is not very intuitive. However, the only slightly troublesome part of the packaging is the silver foil sleeves for the refill pods. These require something sharp to open, and fingernails won’t do the job. Overall, this packaging is ideal for its target market, with its hallmarks being simplicity and convenience.

Specs and Features

The Cync’s starter kit battery is a lithium-ion unit with 380mAh capacity and outputs 3.7 watts to the attached refill pod. The products reviewed today are in the 1.5ml product range, so of course, the refill pods hold 1.5ml of liquid ranging from 24mg to 48mg in nicotine strength.

User Interface features are absolutely minimal. Using the device is as simple as charging the battery via the micro-USB port on bottom. Once the battery is charged, simply plug a refill pod into it by aligning the circular contact plate on the bottom of the pod with the pair of contact studs inside the battery. Press down firmly until the pod is snug within the battery, then inhale.

Build Quality and Ergonomics

Bearing in mind that, again, this is a first-production-run device I’m reviewing, the fit and finish on batteries and pods alike is superb. The only caveat is the presence of a very small gap between battery and pod, which is not uncommon. I’ve been assured that this minor design issue has been identified and will be rectified by Vape Forward.

Each pod incorporates two design choices that are top notch in my eyes. First, the window that shows the current level of e-liquid in the pod is slot shaped, but suitably tall enough that there’s no guesswork involved in seeing just how much juice is left in the pod.

Secondly, the mouthpiece is soft rubber, rather than hard plastic. While this may contribute significantly toward the price of the pods, it’s well worth the cost. Taking a hit from the Cync is very, very comfortable. Whether your preferred vaping style is mouth-to-lung hits (as a smoker would use),or lung-hits, both are possible on this device despite its small size and limited power.

Performance

With that, we come to performance. Part of Cync’s performance profile is going to largely be dependent on which refill pod the user has installed. So far, in my tests, throat hit is extremely satisfying, with primer puffs being necessary only when the battery is depleted and in need of charging.

The batteries, both standard and stealth versions, last for approximately three hours of continuous use and do show some drain in an idle state. For example, if left sitting on a desk overnight, the batteries will need a charging of about 10 minutes before they’re ready to go for the day.

Vapor production is more than adequate, and surprising for such a small device. Of course it’s nowhere near ready to rival eGo-based starter kits like the Hohm Skillet or Vape Forward’s own open-system starter kit, the Vape Forward Intro.

Nicotine hit, on the other hand, is extremely potent when using even 24mg strength refill pods.

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Recommendation and Conclusion

The Cync easily rivals the JUUL in performance, so closely that deciding between the two is a purely subjective call that only you can make. Naturally, both devices blow Big Tobacco’s offerings out of the water and right off the map.

Unlike the JUUL, Cync offers more flavors, more nicotine strength options, as well as e-liquid capacity options and, at roughly $18 compared to the JUUL’s $50, a far easier impulse buy for smokers comparing the two on drugstore or convenience store shelves.

Look at the Cync 2.5 hardware

While the Cync 1.5ml sized hardware is designed to satisfy smokers with its 2.4% to 4.5% nicotine strength liquids and smaller e-liquid capacity pods, the Cync 2.5ml sized hardware is purpose-designed for long-time vapers seeking the maximum simplicity and convenience afforded to them by a closed system vaporizer.

Is there such a market? In my opinion, there is, and that opinion comes not least of all from the fact that I myself fit into that market. Since receiving the Cync, I’ve found myself reaching not for my big, heavy box mod with its 6ml tank, but rather for the little square device with the comfortable rubberized mouthpiece—taking a couple mouth-to-lung hits, and then just carrying on with what I’m doing.

No refilling or battery swapping needed, just vaping and getting on with my work. That’s the power of a closed-system vaporizer. If getting into mods, tanks, rebuilding, and all of that opens a Pandora’s Box, the Cync, in my opinion, actually manages to close it again. It’s vaping, simplified.

Overview of Cync 2.5

To briefly recap my review of the Cync 1.5 hardware in just a paragraph: the starter kit takes the form of a closed system powered by a 350mAh battery and detachable 1.5ml (filled to 1.35ml) refillable pods containing a few different choices of e-liquid flavors. The nicotine strength for the liquids in the starter pack itself is limited to 4.5%; however, the 1.5ml refill pods are available in a much wider range of flavors and nicotine strengths.

The Cync is a closed-system ecosystem, much like the VUSE or NJOY hardware that came before it, but better, which is where the 2.5ml refill pods and the 2.5ml size Stealth battery come into play.

While the 1.5ml pods range in strength from 2.4% to 4.5% nicotine, in order to satisfy transitioning smokers, the 2.5ml pods range in nicotine strength from 1.8% all the way down to 0.6% for vapers who are already decreasing their nicotine intake.

What’s the significance behind why nicotine strengths of e-liquids used on closed systems are so much higher than nicotine strengths used in e-liquids paired with more advanced devices? Simple: risk reduction.

If you vape 24mg nicotine liquids from a closed system, but only 6mg liquids from a high-wattage sub-ohm open system, you’re still looking for the same level of nicotine satisfaction. And although you can achieve the same nicotine satisfaction from an open system with a much lower dose of nicotine, you’re inhaling a lot more of what goes with the nicotine to do it on that higher-powered system.

The risk reduction principle at play, then, is very simple: Why inhale three lungfuls of PG, VG, and flavoring to get your nicotine fix when you can inhale just one to get it? If you vape 3mg nicotine strength liquid at 200 watts, you’re still after the same satisfaction you could get with 18mg liquid at 3.7 volts—and you inhale a lot less of everything else to get there that way.

Performance

So with that idea in mind, does the Cync satisfy a long-time vaper with its 2.5ml pods ranging from 6mg to 18mg strength? In my experience: Yes, it does, but. The ‘but’ is simple: This hardware isn’t meant for lung hits. I found that out, and then accidentally reminded myself of it, a few times while testing the Cync (both the 1.5ml and 2.5ml sized hardware).

These devices are still first and foremost ultraportable. You don’t exactly have to baby them, but you can’t go ham with big, hard lung hits on them either. They’re not made for that.

Taking a nice, deep mouth-to-lung hit from the 2.5ml Stealth battery (which is so small that it absolutely disappears under my fingers), I get an easy draw, surprisingly vivid flavor, a solid throat hit, and a respectable amount of visual vapor output.

The pod I’ve been testing has lasted two days since the device first arrived and this review was written. The e-liquid in the pod is Black Flag Risen Enriched by Five Pawns. I taste everything the company promises I should: a slightly bitter baker’s chocolate, sweet vanilla, roasted coffee, dry tobacco, and savory walnut.

I’ve never experienced flavor that’s both this vivid and this layered from a closed system before. The JUUL comes close with the vividness of its flavors, but its flavors are disappointingly basic compared to what you can get here. Another favorite, swapped out for the sake of curiosity, is Mr. Fritter by Cuttwood Vapors, a dead-on accurate apple fritter with just the right amount of cinnamon. This is a closed system done to perfection.

Recommendation and Conclusion

Pros:

• Ultraportable
• Convenient
• Comfortable
• Long battery life
• Great e-liquid economy
• Unparalleled flavor selection for any closed system
• Standard micro-USB charging, not proprietary

Cons:

• Requires some adjustment in habits for long-timers
• Compared to starter kit, refill pod four-packs may feel steep
• Bragging rights not included

This isn’t a system to brag about; it’s not intended to be. There’s no hand check cachet with this system, but it isn’t made for that either. A device like Cync exists to simplify vaping, both for newly-minted ex-smokers and longtime vapers alike—and it does that beautifully.