This summer, Pax Labs in the US reinvented the e-cigarette with its best-selling device Juul.
The San Francisco-based startup dubbed the “Apple of vaping” is back with a device that aims to bring the same simplicity to marijuana smokers that the Juul delivered for tobacco smokers.
The Pax Era is a vape pen that works by heating up a liquid form of marijuana concentrate contained in tiny, Keurig-cup-like canisters. Users need only inhale to activate the device.
I recently tested the Pax Era. Here’s how it holds up.
The Pax Era is a lightweight, portable vape pen that uses technology developed for the company's best-selling nicotine e-cigarette, Juul. It retails for US$59.99.
Since the company introduced its flagship vaporizer, the Pax, in 2012, it's garnered buzz for making user-friendly vapes on par with Apple's high standards of product design.
The newest device is three inches long, making it compact enough to fit in your back pocket or a purse. The matte aluminium finish gives it a clean, modern look.
It charges through a micro-USB port at the bottom, so consumers can tether it to a laptop for a quick charge in between uses. A full charge takes about 45 minutes.
The marijuana-oil cartridges, called Era Pods, are sold separately through third-party providers (Pax Labs never touches the pot plant) at dispensaries in California and Colorado.
Each pod holds up to 0.5 grams of highly concentrated marijuana oil. While that might not sound like much, the oil provides between 300 and 500 puffs depending on device settings.
The cartridge, which sells for about $40 depending on the retailer, clicks into place. This is impressive for two reasons: First, most cartridges have to be nimbly screwed in.
Second, the cartridge takes the hassle out of filling your vape pen with messy marijuana oil, as other devices require. Users can pick from sativa, indica, and hybrid strains.
While the Pax Era gets points from me for being no-fuss, some marijuana users would find this to be a disadvantage. Other vape pens allow you to pick out your preferred oil -- which vary in strain, potency, and effect -- from a local dispensary and fill the cartridge yourself.
With the Pax Era, you take what's compatible with the device.
Taking a hit is as easy as placing your lips on the mouthpiece and inhaling. The LED lights glow when the device is in use. There are no buttons.
A couple shakes of the Pax Era cause the LED lights to display the device's current battery level. Each petal in the logo indicates 25% increments of charge.
It pairs over Bluetooth to a smartphone app, Pax Vapour, which allows you to customise the LED light colours, change their brightness, and ramp up the temperature for bigger hits.
This feature is cool, but unnecessary. I could see myself dimming the lights when using my device in public, but otherwise, what's the point of personalizing the LED colours?
Plus, the Pax 2 vaporizer could change temperature by pushing a button on the device. In the case of the Pax Era, I think it's Bluetooth-compatible for the sake of being high-tech.
Portability was a huge pro for me. At an outdoor concert in Berkeley, California, I took puffs in between sets while my friends waited in line to buy alcohol.
The oil doesn't produce the same skunky smell as a joint. Clouds of vapour dissipated quickly, so I felt comfortable using it in public (this is true of many vapes).
Puff after puff, the Pax Era delivered smooth, dense hits. Its performance marks a huge improvement over the Pax 2, a flower-only device that gives less consistency.
The LED lights glowed brightly at the start of my hit and dimmed as I inhaled. The visual cue helped me keep track of the length and strength of my hits.
Most users don't need a smart, connected vape pen. They want something that works every time. Fortunately, the Pax Era delivers in both categories.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the author reviewed a pre-production unit. The prototype was inconsistent and buggy. We've updated the article to reflect the experience of using the finished Pax Era product.