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Caedmon Michael

Da Vinci Ascent: First Impressions

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I like to vape dry herb. I vape because I can't smoke (asthma), but the lungs are my best intake system. I vape dry herb because medicine is easiest to procure in that form with the greatest variety and I don't want to go to the trouble of converting it to something else. With some Internet research in hand, I visited the head shop claiming the largest vape selection in town, looking for a simple, dependable vape device that would allow me to set a temperature and not combust material. The Ascent was second on my list of three devices and the only one the shop carried.



I like the choices of shiny and selected the "carbon" option. It's pretty. Before selling the vape, the shop put it on a charger and gave it a careful inspection. One of the glass oil cups was cracked, so they put it aside and opened a second. The physical check passed and the unit charged enough to power up and heat.



The Ascent is packaged well. It came with two sets of glass pipe (one installed in the unit and a spare in the box), two glass canisters for vaping oil, two metal toothpicks (one stored in the unit and a spare in the box), barely usable instructions, and a carry pouch. I really like the spares that were included. I would hate to break the glass in the first week and have to wait to order a replacement and the toothpick is small enough to lose easily. As the unit cost ~$100 more than the other two on my list, I don't think of these as freebies so much as pre-ordering supplies I know I'll need in the future.


A nod to the oil canisters. I wasn't looking to buy an oil vaporizer and didn't even realize the unit came with them. I wouldn't have purchased it for them, but since it has them, I'll probably use it. It's a simple, glass cup that fits the inside of the heating chamber.



The first charge was awkward. The charger plugs in to a hole on the bottom of the unit. For aesthetics, the manufacturer placed a matching hole symmetrically on the bottom grill. It looks nice, but if you don't know the machine, you can't tell where to plug it in without holding it upside down under a good light. Once I got the right hole, I found my unit wasn't taking a charge. It turns out the charge connection is a little bit loose. When I plug it in and set it down, I have to wait just a moment to make sure the connection is steady. If so, it charges great. If not, it shuts off and six hours later, you still have a dead vaporizer.



The bottom portion of the unit swings out and there's a ceramic cup. Fill it with herb. Swing shut. It's pretty much as simple and easy as you can get for an electric vaporizer. I like to load loose, fine-ground herb to the top of the chamber, then use the top of the toothpick to lightly tamp it down about 1/3. I'm not pressing, just helping it settle a little bit.



The controls are minimal. A power button, a select button, and up and down buttons. Usage of them is easy enough once you understand the instructions. When you power on, it automatically starts heating to the last set temp or program. Once you get it figured out and set the way you want it, operation is simple. I turn it on, wait for it to get hot, and inhale. If the temperature isn't quite right, I nudge it and wait. It heats up faster than it cools down, though I haven't timed any of it. It feels like a reasonable (quick, but not instant) wait time. Between hits, I only need to wait 10 or 15 seconds for the next draw.


The Draw

The Ascent offers two distinct options for drawing air. The first is a traditional mouthpiece. In this case, that means the upper half of the glass tubing. Pull it up through the rubber seal to your preferred mouthpiece length and suck the straw. Alternately, the funny shape of the top of the Ascent is intended to be a shareable mouthpiece. If you place your lips just inside the large opening, they form a good seal for more of an open-mouth draw.


At first, the alternate method was clunky. As I've used it more, it's grown on me. The draw feels smoother and more natural, and you don't have to mess with pulling the glass mouthpiece out. 


The flavor is clean (once the temperature is set right). The first couple draws, I got some hint of rubber in the smoke. I'm chalking that up to a new machine and too much heat, since dialing in the proper temperature and using it a little bit, the chemical taste has gone away, leaving the full profile of the bud.



Design makes cleaning as easy as loading. I like to stir the ABV a bit with the pick to loosen it from the ceramic bowl, then turn the unit over and dump it out. It doesn't seem to need daily or per use cleaning. When it does, it's as simple pulling the glass out and letting it soak in a little alcohol.


The Problems

Overall, the unit feels solid. However, the functional buttons are not the quality expected in a $250 device. The select button on my unit isn't quite straight with the rest of the unit. The buttons on the face feel cheap and I have a feeling they will be the first piece of the unit to go. The buttons have to be pressed deeper than expected. For the first day, I thought the "down" button was broken because I couldn't get it to press. Whether it's a problem with the physical contact or the electronics, it often takes two presses of button to register. Overall, this problem is mostly an annoyance and a little bit of a let down. The experience of using the device is downgraded, as is the perceived dependability.


The temperature is not properly calibrated. When I set the machine to 380˚, the medicine combusted, with significant smoke. To get rid of the smoke, I had to drop it below 360˚ and the right vape setting for me seems to be around 340-350˚. On the one hand, portable vaporizers aren't known for reliable thermometers and as long as the temperature is consistent to itself, it's more important that I know where to set my vaporizer than the actual temperature. On the other, at this price point, I expect a little more quality control.


The downside to the Ascent's double mouthpiece is that there is no hard cover for the top. Other vaporizers in this class offer ways to seal the unit. The Ascent comes with two rubbery plugs that can be used to close the end of the glass pipe, the glass is still exposed. One of the benefits of this style vaporizer is loading it, stuffing it in a pocket, and taking off for the day with just enough medicine ready to go if I need it, but I'm not as comfortable putting this in a pocket as the others.



If the Da Vinci Ascent was sitting next to a Flowermate Vapormax V 5.0S, I would still buy the Flowermate. Even though I've never used it, the Flowermate's form factor is more amenable to pocket stowage, the mouthpiece is encased when not in use, and it's $100 less expensive. I would assume the risk of unknown problems and limitations for the benefits above.


That said, I am happy with my purchase. I'm let down a bit by the buttons and lack of a cap, but the machine vaporizes dry herb well and that's what it's really about. It's not good enough to call off the search for a portable, dry herb vaporizer, but belongs on the short list of options. 


I can recommend this device fully and would buy it again.


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Most excellent review indeed!  After reading your review I would have to agree that for the money one would expect a few less kinks in the product. it does the job though and everyone has different needs and preferences, priorities.....might be the bees knees to some! :D Thanks for the write up 

Disappointment is caused by unrealistic expectations. / The more I learn about people the more I like my dog. / Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. / Its like everything it depends on everything else. 





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