Panda eCigs Review
Combined atomizer and cartridges, or cartomizers, are widely used across the e-cig industry, but throwing away your atomizer when you exhaust less than 1 milliliter (ml) of e-liquid is pretty inefficient. Panda eCigs stands by their clearomizers, which are basically clear tanks for e-liquid that can be easily refilled without throwing away the atomizer, offering them in both the eGo-friendly 1.6 ml and the smaller 0.9 ml size for standard-size e-cigs. It opens up a world of e-liquids, saving you money whilst generally offering a superior vaping experience. That’s the theory, at least, but do Panda eCigs accomplish their goal?
3.4/55 User Reviews »
- Diverse selection of e-liquids and cartomizers
- Excellent battery life on the eGo
- Both cartridges and clearomizers available
- Manual and automatic batteries available
- Five nicotine levels – suitable for light or heavy vapers
- Vapor production on the eGo is disappointing
- Evolve batteries have relatively short lifespan
- Clinical appearance of clearomizers not suited to everyone
Bottom LineWith an eGo in addition to the Evolve model, Panda eCigs seems extremely promising. There are plenty of nicotine levels and e-liquids, and the option of cartridges if you don’t like clearomizers. Although the eGo’s battery life is excellent, the vapor production is disappointing. Hardcore vapers should look elsewhere.
Panda eCigs Review: Editor's Opinion
Panda is a relatively new e-cig manufacturer based in California and established in 2012. They established a reputation with their Joy eGo Kits, sporting beefy batteries and 500-puff tanks. The brand bridges the gap between the high-powered eGo style models and standard pen-sized models with the Evolve kit, and offers something for the most tech-savvy vapers with the new variable-voltage eVic. As far as the company themselves, precious little information is available aside from their bare About Us page and their mission statement, professing their dedication to offering a wide selection of products to meet the needs of vapers. With the recent addition of cartomizers, the brand seems to be sticking by their principles and providing options for even beginner vapers.
The Evolve Kit comes with two 230 mAh batteries, two 0.9 ml clearomizers, 10 ml of e-liquid, USB charger, wall adapter and a bonus of five pre-filled cartomizers, currently on offer at $34.95 (as of July 2013 – usual price $69.95). The Joy eGo Kit is pretty much the same, except you get two manual 900 mAh batteries, 1.6 ml clearomizers, a basic carrying pouch and no bonus cartridges, currently on sale at $39.95 (usually $79.95). We've put them both to the test for this Panda ecigs review.
Packaging and Design
The Joy eGo and Evolve Kits basically look the same, except the Joy eGo is draped in black whilst the Evolve Kit is a clean white. The logo is a panda with soppy-looking eyes and a soft smile, looking like it’s supposed to be posing for a 3/4 profile portrait but is too busy offering the artist a hug with its stumpy T-rex arms. The leaf details on the kits add to the “natural” feel, and the kits open with the expected magnetic mechanism. Inside, half of the kits are taken up by foam blocks (holding the e-cigs and clearomizers) and boxes for the chargers and e-liquid bottle.
The e-cigs themselves split into three parts, with the battery, clearomizer and mouthpiece coming apart easily. The batteries are coated with a soft rubber, making them generally pleasant to hold, and they come in pink, red, “Royal” blue, white and stainless steel. You can also get the eGo batteries in copper and gold, although you pay $3 more for either of those colors and the stainless steel option. The smaller Evolve batteries have a jewel-design tip, whereas the eGos stick with a plain metallic disc (the clear manual button lights up when you activate it). Both batteries have the soppy panda portrait logo towards the top, creating a cool visual effect despite the cuddly nature of the mascot.
Aside from those differences, the e-cigs are basically the same in terms of design. The net effect is that you’ll look domineering and tech-savvy with the eGo battery, but like you’re vaping a modified hypodermic needle with the 510-size Evolve battery. If you’re particularly image-conscious, you might prefer to stick to the cartomizers, but in my opinion the clearomizers still look cool.
The e-liquids and cartridges offered by Panda eCigs come in five different nicotine levels, Zero (0mg), Low (6mg), Medium (12mg), High (18mg) and Extra High (24mg). This is the same selection of nicotine levels offered by Green Smoke and many other brands, with the extra strong option putting Panda a step above numerous brands such as V2 Cigs in this department. The 24mg option offers enough nicotine for heavier smokers and the regular intervals between the levels makes it perfect for anybody hoping to reduce their nicotine intake.
Flavors and Vapor
With the beefy 900 mAh output of the Joy eGo model, you’d expect the vapor production to outstanding, but the truth doesn't quite measure up. The Evolve battery is standard in terms of size, and the vapor production pretty much falls in line with that, offering as much vapor as you’ll get with the majority of e-cigs but nothing outstanding. The eGo, sadly, performs no better than the smaller battery – still satisfying but for the size of the battery it’s distinctly unimpressive. The throat-hit from both is just strong enough, but isn’t really as noticeable as with a cigarette or other brands like Green Smoke. Manual Evolve batteries perform better than the automatics (thanks to their higher power rating of 280 mAh), but still not in the same league as brands like White Cloud Cigarettes.
The Joy eGo starter kit came with a bottle of Panda’s USA Mix e-liquid. The tobacco flavor is subtle but still enjoyable. Don’t expect a perfect tobacco emulation (it’s aiming for Marlboro Reds), but you’ll still happily vape away on it throughout the day. It offers hope for their other flavors, with Tobacco, Sahara (middle-eastern), UK Blend, Three 5 (slightly nutty), RY4 (with a sweeter edge) and Luxury Blend completing their tobacco line-up. There’s also a pure Menthol liquid and Port Blend (which has tobacco undertones) for menthol smokers and plenty of other choices like Cinnamon, Caramel, Coffee, Vanilla, Blueberry and Raspberry for adventurous vapers.
The Evolve and eGo batteries perform similarly in terms of vapor, but the lifespan you get out of a single charge differs wildly. You’ll deplete the smaller Evolve batteries with a few hours of heavy use, or around 200-300 puffs. They charge within a couple of hours, though, so you can usually keep your spare powered up for when the one you’re vaping dies. This isn't such an issue for the eGo, which has a long enough lifespan for a full day of fairly heavy use. In practice, each charge of the eGo lasted me over a day of vaping. The website claims 800-1000 puffs, and even though the upper end is optimistic, the lower end seems about right.
You get different chargers depending on your kit. Both have a red and green LED light to tell you when your battery is charged up, but the one you get with the Joy eGo kit has a short attached to make things easier. With the Evolve kit, you’re stuck with the pen-drive style charger and the relatively straightforward wall adapter.
Manufacturing and Warranty
Panda eCigs, somewhat fittingly, are manufactured in China, although the design comes from the USA-based headquarters. The quality of the construction is without question, with the clearomizers screwing comfortably into the batteries and everything responding and performing as expected. The mouthpieces for the eGo screw into place securely, but the Evolve mouthpieces just push in and have a useful rubber stopper on the bottom which prevents e-liquid climbing up the mouthpiece.
It’s CE-approved, RoHS Complaint and you’re protected under a pretty decent warranty in the event of failure. As long as you've purchased cartridges or liquid from Panda in the last 60 days, and you haven’t already had the item in question replaced five times, you’re covered for any replacements. It has to be defective to qualify, of course. You also get a 30 day money back guarantee in case you’re not happy with the product.