SMOK Alien Kit Review
Price: $64.95Visit Website
The SMOK Alien 220W kit is the latest addition to a long series of top-quality vaping products from Chinese manufacturer SMOK, or Smoktech. Ever since they released the very popular X Cube 2, last year, this company has been putting out new and innovative devices at least once a month, without compromising on quality. The Alien kit is no exception, offering a high-power mod with maximum output of 220W and the new Baby Beast tank, which is a smaller version of the acclaimed TFV8 Cloud Beast. In this review, we’re going to take a close look at the SMOK Alien kit, see how it performs and if it’s actually worth your hard earned cash.
A Look at the Contents
The Alien kit comes in the usual SMOK packaging – a big rectangular cardboard box sealed in plastic wrap – and contains the Alien 220W box mod, the TFV8 Baby Beast tank, two Baby Beast coil heads, a spare glass tube for the tank, a bag of spare o-rings, also for the tank, a USB update cable for the mod, and a user manual. As always, a generous offering from SMOK, but the one small detail they seem to have forgotten about is some plastic protection for the large OLED display of the mod. I’ve received three Alien kits for this review, and all three mods had small scratches on the display, which I think could have been avoided with a bit of plastic foil, like most smartphones come with nowadays. It’s not a huge deal, as the damage is barely noticeable, but it could have easily and cheaply been avoided.
Design and Features
The 220W Alien box mod is without a doubt the highlight of this kit. Having already reviewed about a dozen SMOK vaporizers over the last two years, I can say that this device is probably their best looking one yet. Measuring just 85mm in height, 44mm in length and 30mm in width, the Alien is surprisingly compact for a dual-18650 battery unit. Design-wise, it takes some cues from other popular mods, and, actually, one of the reasons I like it so much is because I think it looks a lot like the Vaporesso Target 75W, one of my all-time favorite vaporizers. The rounded corners, the design and positioning of the vent holes, even the zinc alloy case with the matte black finish, all remind me of Vaporesso’s gaming-controller-like device. If you’re a mod connoisseur, you’ll probably see a bit of the Siegelei 213 and the IPV4 in the design of the Alien, as well. On the other hand, SMOK’s new flagship does have quite a number of distinctive features that help it stand out from the competition.
One of these features is the firing bar that SMOK has been using on its devices as an alternative to the classic power button. It was introduced on the X Cube 2, and has since become a staple of SMOK design, having been used on the recently released H-Priv and OSUB Plus. The firing bar on the Alien is a bit different, though, both in the way it is seamlessly integrated into the overall design of the mod, and in how much stiffer it feels this time around. In my previous reviews of SMOK devices that used the firing bar mechanism, I always brought up the issue of accidental firing, either when holding the device in your hand or storing it in a tight pocket. Obviously, simply locking the device would prevent that from happening, but sometimes we just forget to do it. The firing bar on the Alien requires considerably more pressure to activate, so the odds of firing the device by mistake are really low. In fact, it’s so stiff that if you ease up on the pressure while vaping, it will sometimes cut the power. That might take a bit of getting used to, but it does fix the accidental firing issue.
Another distinctive feature of the Alien 220W is the huge OLED screen that displays a wealth of useful information that I have yet to see shown on any other mod. You have your current wattage/temperature setting, the selected SMOK vaping effect (Soft, Normal, Hard), the charge level of each 18650 battery, real-time voltage, the resistance of the atomizer, the amperage, the mode you’re using the mod in (wattage or temperature control), the temperature of the internal motherboard of the device, a puff counter, and, lastly, a puff timer.
There are definitely other mods out there that have all the above listed info available, but what makes the SMOK Alien special is that it displays all of it on the screen at the same time, instead of requiring you to go into the menu and check features like the puff counter or puff timer separately. This does have the small drawback of making the display seem cluttered and confusing at first, but once you get used to the positioning of each field on the display, you’ll start to appreciate the availability of all this data at the press of a button.
Right under the big display, you have two adjustment buttons, and a micro-USB port for firmware upgrades. The latter cannot be used for charging, so if you’re planning on getting the Alien and don’t have an external battery charger, I suggest you buy one of those as well. The small wattage/temperature adjustment buttons are made of plastic and are as stiff as the firing bar, so there’s no annoying rattling, even when you shake the device vigorously. The one thing I don’t like about them is that they lack the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ markings, so you don’t know which one is which. It’s not a big con, as you get used to them pretty quickly, but those tiny symbols would have made things a lot easier.
Another design aspect worth mentioning is the battery door on the bottom of the Alien 220W. After taking it out of the box, I immediately noticed that the door was unusually loose, and on one of the three devices I received, it even opened without me touching it. That was a bit disturbing, but it all made sense once I inserted a couple of 18650 batteries. The Alien relies on the pressure exerted by the batteries to hold the door in place, and once you press it down and inwards to secure it, the wobbling disappears completely. Also, another thing I appreciate about this device is the inclusion of a hinge for the battery door, so it doesn’t come off completely, like it use to on previous SMOK mods like the R200 and the H-Priv.
Lastly, on top of the Alien 220W, you have a classic 510 connection with a gold-plated positive pin. The connection is flush on the mod and is just deep enough for the TFV8 Baby Beast tank to screw all the way down, so you don’t have even the tiniest gap between it and the vaporizer.
To access the menu of the Alien 220W, just press the firing bar three times in rapid succession. Once you’re in the menu, you can cycle through the main settings by pressing the firing bar once. To access a sub-menu, keep the firing bar pressed for one second.
The first main setting in the menu is “Mode”. Here, you can choose between wattage, temperature control and memory modes. In wattage mode, you can also select a SMOK vaping effect, from Soft, Normal and Hard. In Soft, the mod fires at 10% lower wattage than the current setting, for the first two seconds of the draw, while in Hard, it fires at 10% higher wattage. This basically allows you to customize your vaping experience.
In Temperature Mode, you have the option to select from three suported coil materials – Ni200, Stainless Steel and Titanium – as well as adjust the TCR or temperature coefficient for each of them. This is an advanced feature that I usually don’t mess around with, but if you know what you’re doing and the exact type of wire you’re using, I hear it can be pretty useful.
Memory Mode allows you to save up to 22 different vaping settings, so you don’t have to make changes every time you change your atomizers. So if you have three different tanks, every time you switch between them, all you have to do is select their preset memory mode instead of adjusting the mod settings. It’s a pretty nifty feature that I found myself using a lot more that I thought I would.
The next main menu setting is “Puffs”. Here you can reset the puff counter, set a maximum number of puffs for day (once you reach it the mod will not fire anymore), set it to display the number of puffs you have taken since the last reset, or simply disable the puff counter.
In “Settings”, you can adjust the screen time, lock the screen, adjust the brightness of the display, adjust the initial resistance of the atomizer (for advanced users), or download any available updates for the device. For this last one, you have to connect it to a computer and use the SMOK app.
Finally, “Power”, allows you to shut down the Alien 220W for when you don’t plan on using it for a long time. I personally never turned it off completely, just locked it by pressing the firing bar five times in rapid succession, to prevent accidental activation.
I have been using the SMOK Alien kit for about two weeks now, and so far I’ve encountered no major issues. The long firing delay that used to plague SMOK vaporizers in the past is no more – something I also noticed in my recent review of the OSUB Plus – it works great in wattage mode and seems to be pretty accurate, just like other recently released SMOK mods. Does it really go all the way up to 220W? Well, you can scroll all the way up to that with the buttons, but I couldn’t tell you if that what the power output is when you vape. I personally never feel the need to go over 100W, so I’d never even dream of using it at maximum output. I just don’t feel the need for that much power, and suspect very few vapers actually push these mods to their limits.
I’ve never been a big fan of temperature control, but I always make it a priority to at least test one of the supported materials, just to see if they work as advertised. For the Alien 220W, I used a stainless steel wire for the cotton taste, and it did not burn. As I gradually increased the temperature settings, there were some light brown marks on the cotton where it touched the coil, but that’s perfectly normal. As long as the cotton doesn’t catch fire, there’s no need to worry. For Ni200 and titanium, you’ll have to do the test yourself, as I don’t use either of them. For what it’s worth, with all the controversy regarding those materials at high temperatures, I think you’re better off with stainless steel anyway.
There have been a few reports of misfires with the Alien, but I’ve never had any such issue. The firing bar is rigid but very responsive, as are the two adjustment buttons. I even tested the short-circuit protection to see if it would fire, and I got the warning message on the display as soon as I squeezed the firing bar. The reverse battery protection works perfectly as well, and there are other safeguards that I haven’t tested – weak battery protection, high battery voltage protection , low atomizer resistance protection, high atomizer resistance protection, system overheating protection, and low e-liquid protection for temperature control mode.
The SMOK TFV8 sub-ohm tank was hailed as one of the Chinese company’s best ones yet, and the TFV8 Baby Beast is a miniature version of it with equally impressive qualities. It has the same design as the TFV8, the same SMOK patented top-filling system with the hinged swivel cap, and two large adjustable airflow slots on the base. It comes with a standard 510 delrin drip tip that’s heat resistant and prevents lip burns even at high wattages, and two Baby Beast coil heads – one with a vertical coil (0.4Ω) and another with smaller quadruple coils (0.5Ω) for a more restrictive draw but equally impressive vapor production.
For a tank bundled in a kit, the Baby Beast is among the best right now. SMOK is well known for the wide variety of coil heads and RBA bases it produces for every one of their tanks, so you can expect to find at least one to suit your vaping needs.
The only small drawback of the TFV8 Baby Beast is the relatively low e-liquid capacity – 3ml. That’s actually decent for most tanks, but SMOK tanks are notoriously thirsty, and the Baby Beast is no exception. If that’s a problem, you can always use a different tank with the Alien mod, as you’ll be happy to know it’s perfectly compatible with 24mm tanks as well. I find myself having to refill it about every couple of hours, but the insane amount of vapor I get from it is totally worth the trouble.
The SMOK Alien kit is a really solid package. The 220W mod is among the most compact in the dual-18650 mod market, the design is outstanding in my opinion, and it just has a quality feel to it. It’s also about as feature-rich as mods can get nowadays, unless you’re the kind of guy who likes gimmicks like Bluetooth connectivity and flashing colored lights – in which case I recommend the SMOK X Cube 2. The Baby Beast is a great addition to the large family of SMOK tanks, featuring a mess-free refill system, ample airflow control, and a wide variety of coil-heads.
If you’re planning on an upgrade and are on the lookout for a high-quality 2-in-1 kit, I definitely recommend the SMOK Alien.
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