UD Balrog Kit Review
UD – best known for a selection of top-notch atomizers, including the Zephyrus, the Goliath and the IGO-W series – is one of the most well-known companies in vaping, and they’ve finally stepped into the TC box mod game with the 70 W, temperature control capable Balrog. But is it worth the purchase?
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- Compact mod with a sleek, ergonomic design.
- Wide fire button makes operation comfortable.
- 5 to 70 W of power and TC with nickel and titanium coils.
- You can specify your wattage in TC mode.
- Plenty of safety features.
- Consistent performance in both TC and power mode.
- Condensation ring to guard against leaks.
- USB charging functionality, with pass-through.
- Top-filling 3 ml, TC-compatible tank, with three coils in total included with the kit.
- Great flavor and vapor from the tank.
- Stealth mode doesn’t work.
- Battery slot isn’t well-designed, removing is a challenge.
- The atomizer heads can’t be changed with liquid in the tank.
UD Balrog Box Mod Review
It seems like every vaping company has their own temperature-control equipped box mod on offer. And it’s easy to see why: they put out a lot of power while remaining easily portable, and are feature-rich while still maintaining a simplicity that ensures they’re still well-suited to inexperienced vapers. They are basically the way to vape in the modern age.
UD – best known for a selection of top-notch atomizers, including the Zephyrus, the Goliath and the IGO-W series – is one of the most well-known companies in vaping, and they’ve finally stepped into the TC box mod game with the Balrog.
The device comes with a solid set of features – including up to 70 W of power and temperature control with nickel and titanium – a sleek yet ergonomic design and a purpose-made 3 ml tank, all for under $70.
It looks like a great offering from UD, but is it really as good as it sounds? Is it ready to take the place of the iPV D2 and D3, or should it be consigned to the dustbin of vaping history?
We take a look at the device and tank in our UD Balrog Kit review.
The Balrog Kit was provided to me for the purposes of this review by Heaven Gifts. Despite this, as always, this review is a totally honest appraisal of the mod and tank. We also have three Balrog Kits up for grabs in our giveaway if you want the chance to pick one up for free.
What You Get
The UD Balrog kit comes fully-loaded with everything you need apart from a high-drain battery and some juice. Inside the well-presented box, there are several compartments cut into a block of foam, containing your mod, your tank, a spare Pyrex tube for the tank, two spare coils – one kanthal at 1.8 ohms and one Ni200 at 0.15 ohms – an interesting rubber-coated USB charging cable and a bag of extras, including a drip tip, some O-rings and a spare bit of cotton for the mod’s “condensation ring.” Inside the battery section of the mod, there’s also a UD-branded lanyard which screws into the top of your mod, with “Keep Vaping” printed across the fabric.
You get a lot for such a small box, and even the little things like the lanyard make you feel like you’re getting a great deal. For $68 as a standard, non-sale price, the kit is a great deal, right in line with what you’d expect to pay for a similar device like the iPV D2 or D3 and a sub-ohm tank.
Design and Compatibility
The Balrog’s design is excellent, with the mod being fairly compact and quite understated in terms of visual impact. The device is sleek and simple, all-black and with very little branding other than “Balrog” printed in red above the fire button and the UD logo on the bottom. It’s about the same size as the 40 W iStick, measuring 78 mm (around 3 inches) tall, 38 mm (1 1/2 inches) wide and 23 mm (just under an inch) deep, making it a comfortable fit in a hand or pocket.
It’s boxy, but it has rounded corners that take away from the angular awkwardness many box mods struggle with. The tank matches it well, with black borders surrounding the Pyrex tube and a short drip tip on top – it looks a little chunky and short, but the overall appearance of the setup is great.
Most of the action happens on the front edge of the mod, which has the OLED display screen, with two adjustment buttons and a micro-USB port below, and the enlarged firing button above it. The fire button has a protruding, square-sided “button” section – with a literal “fire” icon on it – but extends outwards on both sides and stretches right around to the larger, flat faces of the device. This means you don’t have to be precise with your presses, you can let your thumb rest across the push-able plate and press anywhere on its main surface to fire.
The device takes an 18650 battery, which is accessed through a magnetically-closing panel on the back edge of the mod. This opens up easily, just give it a little pull and the panel comes off. The battery panel also has a well-executed bit of ergonomics, with a small section dipping inwards towards the top which is perfect for resting your index finger when you hold the mod.
The 510 connection is stainless steel threaded, with brass coating on the spring-loaded connection point and a unique “condensation ring” surrounding it. This is a reverse-threaded metallic disc surrounding the 510 connection, with several oval-shaped holes cut into it which reveal a ring of cotton designed to soak up any leaking or condensation. This is a really awesome idea, addressing one of the constant annoyances many vapers have grown accustomed to with an inventive bit of design.
The tank is straightforward in design, with an airflow control ring at the bottom and a removable top cap and drip tip at the top, either side of a Pyrex tube with the coil and central stem inside. It holds 3 ml of juice, and is filled from the top: you unscrew the top cap to reveal an inset metallic section with two filling holes for your juice.
The airflow control ring is basic, being separate from the main body of the tank and having two arrays of circular holes, which open up all or part of the long, thin airflow slots on either side of the tank. This is easy to use; although you have to look closely to see how many are open in low light.
The tank screws apart easily, so cleaning and changing coils is a pretty easy process. The tank isn’t really connected to the upper section, though – it press-fits and is primarily held in place by the screwed-in bottom section – so you can’t really change coils with juice in your tank.
Overall, the UD Balrog mod and tank have a fantastic design: they maintain a simple, minimalistic appeal while still having some well-executed little touches to make using the mod a smoother experience.
UD Balrog 70 W Features
The main features of the Balrog are the substantial power output – up to 70 W – and the temperature control with nickel and titanium coils. The temperature control can be set in Fahrenheit or Celsius, running from 200 to 600 °F or from 100 to 300 °C. This offers plenty of choice in both power and temperature output for most vapers’ needs, and you can also adjust your applied wattage in temperature control mode too.
You set the mode for the Balrog using the menu system, which you access by quickly pressing the fire button three times. When you enter the menu, it presents you with four options: TC Mode, Power Mode, System and Exit. You navigate using the “+” and “−” buttons and advance to the next sub-menu using the fire button.
“System” contains options for the screen orientation (and stealth mode), the puff counter and the “sensitivity” of the TC function, and the others are self-explanatory. The “sensitivity” setting is a little puzzling, because there’s no clear reason to set it as less sensitive. Being able to rotate the screen is a nice touch, and stealth mode would be too if it worked properly. The puff counter is as useful as puff counters ever are, which is “not that useful.”
The remaining features are standard for most devices: it can be turned off or locked and it has plenty of safety features – including low battery, high temperature, short circuit protection, 10-second cutoff, reverse battery protection and a low liquid warning. It supports kanthal coils down to 0.2 ohms in resistance and down to 0.15 ohms in TC mode, with all of the key information displayed on the screen. Holding down both of the adjustment buttons reads and sets the resistance of your coil, reading it to two decimal places but displaying it to one on the main screen.
So the device can do a lot and it’s well-designed, but what does this mean for the mod in use? Is it a great vaping experience, or is it held back by glitches and annoying habits?
For the most part, you’re going to have a smooth experience with the UD Balrog. Everything works just as it should, and the performance is generally excellent: the mod is very responsive and delivers consistent power to your atomizer. The tank offers great flavor and substantial vapor production, too, so the combination gives you a top-quality vaping experience overall.
The comfort factor really does stand out with the UD Balrog. The mod fits comfortably in your hand, with your thumb or finger naturally falling onto the wide fire button. The mod is also perfectly designed to slip into a pocket or a compartment in a bag, making it a stand-out option for taking out and about.
Refilling and changing coils with the Balrog tank is also a simple process. To refill, just unscrew the top cap and use the fill-holes, although they could be slightly bigger to prevent spillage into the center tube. It disassembles easily, although it would be better if the top of the tank itself was threaded onto the top cap section, so you could change coils without losing your juice. It is still possible, but it’s a delicate procedure and you’ll probably spill some juice in the process.
The only other thing you have to do with the mod is periodically delve into the menu system to adjust settings. Changing modes is pleasingly simple as an operation: hit the fire button three times and then use the adjustment buttons to navigate and select your desired option. If you choose power mode, then you’ll be taken to the “Exit” option. For TC mode, you have to choose Ni200 (nickel) or Ti1 (titanium), then dial in your desired temperature before hitting the fire button again and being taken to the “Exit” option.
This does mean it’s a little harder to adjust your temperature setting than on most devices (you need to go into the menu each time), but it’s not time-consuming once you get used to it. The positive side of this is that you can adjust the power going to the atomizer easily – from the main screen – which is a key factor in getting a good TC vape, at least for me. Other devices lock you at the maximum wattage setting, which leads to a much less consistent vape over the course of your draw.
Menu systems on vape mods can be really downright awful, but the Balrog is very forgiving. Once you access the menu, you have 15 seconds or so to do something else before it switches off, and the most important options are easily accessible. The only place you risk getting lost is in the “System” menu, but the options there are the sort of thing you set once and then leave alone.
One issue I noticed during testing is that “Stealth” mode would be more accurately described as “switch off the mod and stop it from responding” mode (which probably wouldn’t fit onto the menu screen, admittedly). This would be an occasionally useful feature if it worked, but as it stands – at least on the vape mod I received – it does nothing but irritate you. I can’t get the mod to respond without removing and replacing the battery.
Changing the battery could also be easier. Not only have two of the small magnets come out of their spots in the battery compartment, the battery itself is held so tightly in place that removing it is a little too challenging. It can be done, but you have to push firmly down on the small part of the battery that’s accessible to get it out. There is a slot in there which may hold a ribbon for easier removal on future production runs, but as it stands it’s also a minor annoyance with the device.
That said, the mod allows you to recharge the battery via USB, so you don’t have to remove the battery too often. The USB charger is also pretty unique: the cord is ribbon shaped and coated in rubber, and the full-sized connection is flat and slipper-like, with four contacts on the top. You can vape while it’s charging too – a really useful feature if you only have one mod.
So the Balrog doesn’t offer the perfect vaping experience, but these issues are really very minor when it comes to day-to-day use of the device. Really, the temperature control is excellent, the performance in wattage mode is hard to fault and the top-notch design translates to a comfortable, portable device.
The manufacturing on the UD Balrog mod and tank both seem great, with some caveats. The moveable contact at the bottom of the battery slot is too stiff to be used comfortably, and two of the four magnets on the inside of the closing mechanism have come out of their spots. Finally, the finish is good but a small section has chipped away near the firing button. Other than that, though, there were no issues in my testing.
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