Firefly Vaporizer Review: C+
The Firefly packaging is the nicest I have ever seen. The box is heavy, thick, and expensive looking. It feels like you are unboxing a luxury watch or jewelry rather than a vape. The box contains the Firefly, battery, charger, manual, carry pouch, and cleaning kit.
The Firefly looks and feels great
The Firefly looks like an old-school Nokia cell phone. And it is heavier than it looks. From what I can tell, it seems like it is constructed primarily of metal, which is nice because it acts like a heat-sink, spreading out the heat from the chamber so that it does not burn your hand. The fit and finish is very nice. When I handle the Firefly, the vintage red paint job, chrome metallic piping, and dense weight remind me of a classic American car.
However, one gripe about the craftsmanship is that the battery cover slides off a little too easily. I would prefer the battery door to snap into place with a more positive feel.
But does it vape as well as it looks?
Unfortunately, my first impression of using the Firefly was not good. I tried vaping a few puffs with an empty chamber, and I got a metallic, chemical-like taste in my mouth. I guess that is to be expected for a factory new, unbroken in vape, but still necessary to mention that.
Then, I put some grounded up herbs into the heating chamber, flipped on the switch, and held down the heating button. Once the heating chamber glowed with an orange light, I took a puff---I expected a nice cloud of vapor, but instead got a mouthful of herb particles! Not cool! This happened because there is no screen covering the heating chamber. After I spit out the herbs that got in my mouth, I continued my draw and got some vapors.
There is no temperature control, which will be disappointing to some people, like me.
Vaping technique is tricky
The technique of taking puffs on the Firefly is not idiot-proof like the Ploom Pax. I had to experiment with both my inhalation technique and timing of the heating button to get good clouds.
Also, the orange glow in the heating chamber is misleading. You would think that once the orange glow is on, it is good to go. But it is not. Oftentimes, on my first puff, I would get no vapor because the chamber didn't get hot enough yet. So what is the point of the orange glow then? Just decoration?
So basically, you have to heat up the chamber and guess when it is hot enough to create vapor. In my experience, it took ~15 seconds, but it is really lame that you have to guess when the Firefly is good-to-go. Once it is warmed up and good to go, take slow, steady puffs.
Is convection heating better than conduction?
The Firefly prides itself in using a convection heating design vs conduction. This means that your herb is vaporized only when you take a puff, by passing hot air over the herb. In theory, convection is supposed to vaporize the herb more evenly. However, from my experience with the Firefly, you still need to stir your herbs every few puffs to get an even roast.
One positive thing I should mention is that the Firefly seems pretty efficient at conserving herb, since vapor is only generated when you take a puff. In conduction vaporizers, like the Pax and Magic Flight, your herb would be being cooked even when you are not puffing.
To test the idea that the Firefly doesn't cook the herb unless if you are taking a draw, I filled the chamber with some herb, turned on the Firefly, and held down the heating button. After 3 minutes of holding down the heating button, the herb is still fairly green, except for some slight browning at the bottom closest to the heating element.
- Take slow, long, steady puffs to get thick clouds.
- Don't grind your herb too finely or it may get in your mouth.
- If you hold the heating button down for too long, the Firefly may overheat and go into a cool-down mode. Pretty annoying.
- High quality craftsmanship. Great fit and finish.
- Heats up fairly quickly---approximately 15 second warmup time.
- Convection heating design conserves herb because it doesn't cook when you aren't puffing.
- Because there is no screen covering the heating chamber, I often experienced small bits of herb getting in my mouth. Really annoying.
- At $269 (as of March 2014), this is the most expensive portable vaporizer on the market.
- There are no temperature settings. Your only choice of controlling the temperature is by modulating the heating button and/or modulating your puffing speed.
- The orange glow of the heating chamber is misleading. Just because it is glowing does not necessarily mean that the temperature is hot enough to deliver vapor clouds. You have to kinda guess when the temperature is good-to-go.
- The design of the heating system doesn't seem that good. It doesn't vape herb evenly at all. Stirring is definitely required. It is easy to char the herb that is on the mesh (closest to the heating element).
- Battery life is not that good. Only lasts for a few bowls.
- Battery lid slides off more easily than it should.
Overall Score: C+
Conclusion: I really wanted to like this vape, but the Firefly has too many design flaws at such a high price. The fatal flaw is having to guess when the Firefly is warmed up and good-to-go. Also, many vape enthusiasts like me will be disappointed by the lack of temperature settings because vaping the same herb at different temperatures has different effects.
At this price and form factor, this vape competes directly with the Pax by Ploom. And IMO, you are better off saving ~$20 and getting a Pax.
If a good convection vape with glass vapor-path is what you want, then I recommend getting the Arizer Solo.
Reviewed by: JW on June 21, 2014
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