One thing I absolutely love about e-cigarettes is that the War On Smoking has resulted in the invention of a whole new way of smoking.
It’s what happens in wars. They always result in the invention of brand new weapons. And e-cigarettes are to the War On Smoking as tanks were to WW1.
They’re still in their infancy. But one day they’ll be everywhere.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that Leggie had bought an iQos heat-not-burn device. He wrote a very positive review of it here, complete with photos. “I really like this thing,” he wrote.
So, not for the first time, I followed in Leggie’s footsteps, and ordered one for myself, taking advantage of the same offer (I think the price had been slashed in half, maybe more).
It came a week or more ago, but after my first failed attempt to get it working, I left the thing alone. That was largely because I was too busy with other things. And maybe because we were experiencing a mini ice age here in the UK.
The reason I had such difficulty with it was that a) the box is very difficult to open, and b) the instructions are terrible, and c) there are too many LEDs.
The iQos device itself is very slick, but the box and the instructions are awful.
The box is made of strong, shiny, white cardboard, and consists of one open-ended box that slides into another open-ended box, with a clearance of about 1/1000th of an inch (or cm) between the two. There are no finger grips to be allow the inner box to be got hold of. The only way I could get the thing open was to hold the outer box and shake it vigorously until the inner box had slid down out enough for me to get a finger purchase on it. I didn’t think it did the contents of the box much good to be shaken vigorously.
And it doesn’t get any easier the second time you do it. I made the mistake of putting everything back into the box, and sliding the cardboard boxes together. The next time I opened it, I ended up shaking it vigorously again to get them apart.
And then the instructions. The instructions looked slick (so did the box), but I found them almost incomprehensible. When I’d finally got the thing to charge up in its fancy holder, I didn’t know when it was fully charged. The holder has lots of LEDs on it, which light up and flash, and sometimes change colour. The holder has also got a mind of its own, and turns itself off after a while.
Anyway, the net result was that when I tried it the first time, it wasn’t fully charged. And also, I had now encountered another problem: I didn’t know which end of the iQos to put in my mouth.
You’d think that the least they could do would have been to have included a little picture of someone smoking the thing, but nope, they didn’t even do that.
And of course I guessed wrong which end to put in my mouth. And all I ended getting was one single puff out of it.
And then, when I tried pulling the mini-cigarettes (“HEETs”) which need to be impaled on a spike inside the iQos, the mini-cigarette came out, but left the tobacco impaled on the spike.
It then took me about 20 minutes to get the tobacco off the spike, and clean the thing up.
I then put it back in its holder, and put it back on charge. Leggie said his had charged up in 20 minutes. Mine took about an hour and half.
And by then I’d lost interest in the thing, what with the box, the instructions, all the flashing LEDs, and the tobacco impaled on the spike.
And so it was another 10 days or so before I finally got round to giving it another try.
This time things went much more smoothly. The iQos had remained almost fully charged since my last attempt, and it didn’t take long to become fully charged. And I slid another HEET mini-cigarette onto the spike, and held down the button on the iQos to start it first flashing, and then turning solid green, which indicated that it was ready to smoke.
This time, instead of smoking it like it was a cigarette in a holder (i.e. from the far end away from the cigarette, I smoked it with the filter in my mouth.
But then I hit another problem: I had just 6 minutes to smoke the thing. I usually take about 15 minutes to smoke a roll-up, so I had to smoke the thing 3 times more quickly than usual.
I suppose that wouldn’t bother people who smoke manufactured ready-rolled cigarettes, because in my experience they tend to burn much quicker than roll-ups. Put a roll-up in an ashtray, and it’ll go out in about 10 seconds. Put a ready-rolled cigarette in an ashtray, and it’ll just carry on burning. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they only burn for 6 minutes.
Aside from the fact that I was smoking it 3 times faster than I usually smoke (and coughing a lot as a result) I found it a surprisingly good smoke. Leggie had order menthol HEETs, but I went for the full strength tobacco amber HEETs. And the result was something that was actually stronger than my roll-ups. It was a real smoke, which is more than I can say of any vaping device I’ve ever tried.
And that probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, because you actually are smoking a little cigarette, made of real tobacco, which isn’t burning, but is only being heated. They don’t say what temperature they use in the spike they use to heat the tobacco with, but I suppose it’s not as high as the temperatures inside a lit cigarette coal.
I was also surprised that it actually produced smoke. There wasn’t much of it. And it only appeared when you pulled on it. Otherwise there was no smoke.Certainly there was nothing like the amount of continuous smoke you get off any lit cigarette.
Anyway, I’ve only smoked one HEET cigarette so far. And then, because I could see unburned (or unheated) tobacco in the end of the thing, I tried smoking it a second time. And that was a rather unpleasant experience, like smoking a cigarette butt.
My verdict? Well, if Leggie might have given his about 8 out 10, I give mine about 3 out 10. I suppose that I simply got a bit too narked with the box, the instructions, and all the flashing LEDs. About the only good thing about it, as far as I was concerned, was that when I finally got it working, it was a surprisingly good smoke. The only thing that really spoiled it was that it only lasted 6 minutes. But that might not bother other people at all. Perhaps because most of them are used to smoking cigarettes hurriedly these days, and I’m not.
Also, I think that though they’ve made it look very slick, it could do with a few more iterations of the design process. First they should throw away the damn box, and design one that’s easy to open. And that shouldn’t be too difficult. Second they should throw away the user manual, and re-write it from scratch, with bigger photos in it, and – above all – a photo showing how to smoke the thing. Third, do there really need to be 7 or 8 LEDs, each with three colours? Surely just one LED should be needed to tell you when something has charged? And fourth, maybe think about a king size HEET that’ll last 12 or 15 minutes. Because not all of us want to smoke as fast as we possibly can.
Anyway, now that I’ve got it working, I’ll bring it into the Smoky Drinky Bar on Friday night, and maybe also on Saturday night, and demonstrate its use (complete with coughing, because I’m having to smoke too fast).
Oh, and before I forget, I’ve been getting phone calls from iQos more or less every day for the past 2 weeks. I’ve never actually managed to answer the phone myself, but the voice messages they leave tell me that they’re offering to “help” me to get it working. But I hadn’t actually asked for any help! So I can only suppose that lots of people have had about as much difficulty getting the thing working as I have. So much so that now they automatically phone buyers up to offer the help they know they’ll need. That’s another reason for improving the box/manual/LEDs. How often does anyone who’s bought, say, an electric toaster, ever get phone calls offering to show them how to work it? Never.
I’m sure they’ll get it right in the end. It’s an evolutionary process. Just like it was with tanks in WW1.