Eleaf iStick PICO 75W Kit Review
Price: $41.99Visit Website
The Eleaf iStick is one of the most well -known brand names in the world of vaping, and for good reason. Mods in this iconic series have always been user-friendly, reliable and, perhaps most importantly, very affordable. For years, the Chinese company has been at the forefront of innovation in this highly-competitive industry, and the newest addition to the iStick series – the iStick PICO 75W – proves that they still have an edge. As you’re about to see, there is more to this little device than meets the eye, and when paired with the new Melo 3 Mini sub-ohm tank, it’s just a lean, mean fog-making machine.
The iStick PICO starter kit comes in a plastic-wrapped white cardboard box and contains a 75W iStick PICO micro-mod, a Melo 3 Mini tank, two EC coil heads (0.3Ω and 0.5Ω), a USB cable, beefy user manuals for both the mod and the tank, and a small bag of spare o-rings. It’s a complete package that reminded me of the SMOK R80 starter kit that I reviewed not too long ago, in that it’s a good option for intermediate and even beginner vapers who want to make the switch to advanced mods. In this case, all you need is an 18650 battery, some e-liquid, and you’re good to go.
The iStick PICO 75W Mod
The first thing you notice about the iStick PICO is its reduced size. At just 70.6 x 45.2 x 23.2mm – not including the Melo tank – it’s definitely the smallest box mod I’ve ever used. Even if you have tiny hands, it’s really comfortable to hold and fits in the smallest of pockets and purses, so definitely a plus on portability. But, here’s the really interesting part – the PICO is actually shorter than an 18650 battery, so do you get one to fit inside the device. This is another one of those innovations Eleaf is known for – they came up with a battery extension cap (the round thing next to the 510 connection, which allows the battery to protrude a little. The cap is super easy to remove and put back when you need to replace the battery and doesn’t get in the way at all when you need to screw on a tank or fiddle with the mod. It’s a new design that might not sit well with everybody, but it serves its purpose – accommodating an 18650 battery while keeping the size of the mod as low as possible.
Another interesting thing about the iStick PICO’s design is the positioning of the buttons. A curved fire button sits flush on one side of the device, right above a fairly large LCD display and a micro-USB charging/update port. But this is a variable wattage/temperature control mod, so where are the ‘+’ & ‘-‘ buttons needed to make the necessary adjustments, right? Well, Eleaf placed them on the best place for them was the bottom of the mod. They are positioned in a small curvature so they are flush, meaning you don’t have to worry about them getting pressed by accident when you place the iStick PICO on a flat surface. Having gotten used to these buttons either on the side or on top of the mod, I found their positioning a bit awkward at first, but I quickly got used to it and eventually got to appreciate the cleaner look of the mod.
The LCD display is fairly large for the size of this mod, and unless you have serious vision problems, you should be able to read all the information easily. In standby, the screen displays the set wattage/temperature in larger font, and the resistance and voltage in smaller characters, next to the battery life icon. When the fire button is pressed, the screen switches to a puff timer.
I give the iSTick PICO 75W an A+ on size and design. Not only is it extremely small and easy to carry around, it’s also quite the looker. I received the white version for this review, and it looks absolutely stunning, with its brushed metal top and bottom frames, especially when you attach the stainless steel Melo 3 Mini tank. Aesthetically, the battery extension cap may be a con for some vapers, but I for one have no problem with it. It’s an ingenious solution from Eleaf, and actually makes the mod look interesting and unique.
But aesthetics can only carry a mod so far, as its overall quality usually comes down to features and performance. Luckily, the iStick PICO is very strong in both departments.
First of all, the PICO is iStick’s first upgradable firmware device. They have since launched a second one – the iStick TC100W – and will probably include the feature in their future releases. This allows users to upgrade their devices by simply connecting them to a Windows computer via the micro-USB port. So if iStick decides to upgrade the PICO to say 100W instead of the current 75W, or if they want to add support for a new material in temperature control mode, you can improve your mod with a simple firmware upgrade. Just remember to keep an eye on the USB cable included in the kit, as not USB cables are capable of data transfers.
Since the iStick PICO 75W is a single battery mod, the micro-USB port can be used for both upgrading and charging the device, saving you the trouble of having to use an external charger. The average-length USB cable also allows you to use the PICO as a passthrough, while it’s charging.
The menu of the iStick PICO is unusually complex for such a tiny, basic-looking mod. But as we all know, looks can be deceiving, and this is a perfect example. There are a bunch of features to explore, and a series of button combinations to make accessing them as simple as possible. For example, browsing through the various modes can be done by pressing the fire button 3 times in rapid succession. Then you will be able to select from Wattage, Bypass (Mech mode), and Temperature Control for nickel, stainless steel and titanium.
You also have 3 different memory modes to choose from, each with its own TCR (Temperature Coefficient of Resistance). To set the TCR, first turn off the iSTick PICO by pressing the fire button five times rapidly, then press the fire button and the ‘+’ button together for five seconds. You’ll see ‘M1’ show up on screen along with a numeric value that you can change to the resistance coefficient of the type of wire you’re planning to use, by using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons. Repeat the operation for M2 and M3. This is an advanced feature that casual users probably won’t mess with, but it really speak volumes about the capabilities of this tiny device.
But there are a lot of simpler features to mess with, like pressing the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons while the iSTick PICO is turned off, in order to flip the screen, or perform the same operation while the device is turned on to lock the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ in order to make sure you’re settings don’t change by mistake, like, for example, when carrying the mod in a tight pocket or a purse. To unlock, just press the buttons again.
You can also put the iStick PICO in stealth mode (turns off the LCD display) by pressing the fire button and ‘-‘ button while the device is turned on, and check battery voltage by pressing the fire button and ‘+’ while it is off. There are a ton of these shortcuts to play with and the beefy manual, which comes in six languages, does a great job of explaining every feature of the mod in great detail.
If you’ve read any of my previous TC mod reviews, you know I am not the biggest fan of temperature control, but that’s just a matter of personal preference. If you prefer using your mod in TC, you’ll be glad to know that the iStick PICO 75W supports nickel, titanium and stainless steel, and comes with the TCR feature we already mentioned above. Picking between the different wire options is super easy – just press the fire button 3 times and scroll through them using the buttons on the bottom of the mod.
But the big question here is, does temperature control on the iStick PICO actually work? Well, the dry burn test definitely suggests so. I only tried with a stainless steel coil I made myself, but apart from the top 600 degrees setting, where the cotton was quickly charred, at lower temperatures of 400 and 500 degrees, temp protection only left light brown marks on the cotton. That’s a pass in my limited experience with TC, but even if it turns out there are some problems with temperature control for the other supported materials, iStick can quickly fix them via a firmware upgrade.
The Melo 3 Mini Tank
The iStick PICO 75W is a really, really nice mod, but it’s only half of what makes the PICO starter kit so great, the other being the Melo 3 Mini tank. It has an e-liquid capacity of 2 ml, which may seem like very little, when compared to big boys like the SMOK TFV4, or the UD Simba, but it is a ‘mini’ tank, and most importantly – and I suspect intentionally – it is compliant with the new EU tobacco directive scheduled to come into effect this year. And while 2 ml may not seem like a lot, the Eleaf EC coils that come with the Melo 3 are not as thirsty as the coil heads for the TFV4, so you burning through juice as fast.
The top part of the Melo 3 Mini tank is made up of a thick stainless steel drip tip that is supposed to remain cool even when chain-vaping at high wattages, and a detachable top cap that conceals the top-filling system. Just unscrew the metal cap and pour juice inside the tank through the two large side slots, NOT the center chimney. In the lower section, under the glass tube, we have a stainless steel ring that conceals the tank’s adjustable airflow system. This particular design element really improves the overall look of the tank especially when it’s mounted on the iStick PICO. The two just seem made for each other, and without any visible large cyclops air slots, the tank just seems like it’s fused to the mod, like they are a single piece.
The Melo 3 Mini comes with two classic Eleaf EC coil heads (0.3Ω and 0.5Ω), which are both made with Kanthal wire, apparently, although I personally read that online, as I couldn’t find any reference to the materials used either in the manual or on the packaging. That’s a small con in itself, the other being that when selling a temperature control capable kit, you might want to include at least one TC-capable coil head. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the PICO starter kit, for some reason, and I’m sure TC enthusiasts will be more than a little disappointed. Luckily, I’m a wattage mode guy, myself.
The Kanthal coil heads that do come with the Melo 3 are pretty good though. When used properly, they put out tons of vapor and above average flavor, though definitely not on the level of an RDA or even an RDTA like the SMOK TF-RDTA. But for a tank, flavor doesn’t get much better than this. One thing you always have to keep in mind with this style of coil head is the break-in period. Even if they have a rating of 80W and 100W respectively, don’t crank the power too high at first, as you have a good chance of burning the wicking and ruining them. After a few hours of moderate power, you can crank the iStick PICO all the way up to 75W and enjoy a great vaping experience.
Another great thing about the Melo 3 tank is that it uses the same type of coil heads as the Aspire Triton or Atlantis, so you have the option to try various resistances, materials and even Clap-ton wire, if you’re into experimenting.
The bottom line on the Melo 3 Mini – it’s a great little tank. Vapor production is outstanding, flavor is right up there with the best tanks, the design is great and, one thing I personally care very much about, it does not leak, ever.
So is the Eleaf PICO starter kit worth your hard-earned money? Hell yeah! Whether you’re an intermediate vaper looking to upgrade to an advanced setup, or a veteran in search of a small-size but powerful mod packed full of feature, the iStick PICO 75W-Melo 3 Mini combo is perfect. It lacks TC capabilities right of the box due to the lack of TC coils, but you can get those separately, and I’m sure Eleaf will fix this in future iterations of the kit. Other than this small con, I can’t think of a reason not to like the PICO. Plus it’s just around $40 for a mod AND a great tank, so it’s really a great deal, value wise.
The Eleaf iStick PICO kit was sent to me by Heaven Gifts for the purpose of this review.
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