It’s duelling time, where we pit two best-selling products against each other in the ultimate showdown of quality and style. This vaporizer comparison is between the Canadian-made Arizer Solo and its US contender the DaVinci Ascent. It’s going to be a close one, eh.
This is a close fight indeed. For years, the Solo has been at the top of the food chain as THE premier portable vaporizer when it comes to quality and performance. A much loved favourite here at Australian Vaporizers HQ, the Solo really sets a high standard for its design and vapour quality that puts most other portables to shame. That is, until Da Vinci muddied the waters by launching their most recent model, the Ascent. Much hyped before its release, the Ascent is the first glass on glass portable vaporizer with an impressive list of features to boot. Fully digital, palm sized and oozing with sex appeal, the Ascent may well be a worthy contender for the title of top dog in the portable world.
Luckily for you, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to put them to the test and settle the score. It’s a hard task, but someone has to do it. We’re weighing the good and the bad, and it could get ugly. If your wallet isn’t big enough for the both of them, perhaps this battle of wits will help you pick a winner.
1. Manufacturing Quality
Arizer really knocked it out of the park when it came to designing a quality handheld vaporizer with a solid build, easy operation and durable parts. The Solo is definitely one of the best-manufactured portable vaporizers around and there’s so much to like about it.
- Ceramic heating element with high grade Stainless Steel heating chamber
- Glass draw stem
- Durable Aluminium casing
- Versatile temperature range from 50-210°C
- Extremely simple to use
- Consistent heating with very good vapour production
Not So Good
- Is bulky for a portable vaporizer
- Glass stems can be difficult to travel with
The simple appearance, for one, really presents this as a no-fuss machine and it’s clear that the focus was on quality and function when Arizer made this unit. The aluminium casing not only looks sleek in either colour, but it also makes the unit extremely durable. The Solo is all business; function over flash. It has an analogue display with seven pre-determined temperature settings that range from 50-210°C, a very substantial temperature range for a portable vaporizer that makes the Solo an absolute wizard at vaporizing herbs of different strains and moisture contents.
Finding a portable unit with this kind of temperature consistency and vapour quality was nigh impossible until the Solo came along and delivered. The vapour from this unit simply blew us away after trying so many portables that fall short on this simple yet crucial aspect. Like I said, Arizer knocked it out of the park when they built the Solo.
In terms of operation and usability, the Solo is a simple and effective machine. One four-hour charge will give you around 2 hours of continuous use, and the newest 2014 edition can be used while charging to eliminate wait time between sessions. One of the great things about the design of this unit is that it’s self-standing, keeping your hands free to grind and pack your herbs while it heats up.
Even the name is epic. “Ascent.” It makes you think of Everest; a climb to the top, a journey of Himalayan proportions. It’s not that far from the truth; DaVinci really worked hard when it came to launching their newer Ascent model. A lot of time passed between the original DaVinci and the release of the stylish, high-tech Ascent, and we can only conclude that time was spent attempting to work out the kinks and user issues so many had with the first. Did they make it to the top of the mountain, or are they still stuck at Base Camp? Well, that’s still up for debate.
- Glass-on-glass vaporization
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Digital OLED display
- Digital temperature control up to 221°C
- High tech features
Not So Good
- Glass is very fragile
- Vapour can be hot/harsh
- Unit can become hot after some use
- Swivel-action herb chamber can be awkward to fill
DaVinci created a portable vaporizer that ticks as many boxes as possible. Not only is the Ascent the first portable glass-on-glass vaporizer, but it’s also a unit that’s easy to use, packed with features, discreet, heats fast and looks like a million bucks. The unit itself is made of food-safe, twice-cured silicone. It’s very sexy and available in a few eye-catching designs, so it’s definitely a vape to rival others in the aesthetics department.
The Ascent features very clean glass-on-glass vaporization with an all glass vapour path and glass-lined ceramic heating chamber. It’s enough to make any glass head drool, but our first thought was that having so much glass included in its construction would make the Ascent a nightmare to travel with (being that it’s a portable vaporizer, that part’s kind of important.)
We weren’t wrong, but not entirely right either. The glass fits very snugly inside the unit and is well protected so some (light) abuse can be tolerated. The draw stem is well-protected as long as it sits inside the unit, but you will have to worry about the glass screen at the bottom, as it chips very easily. The glass is very fragile outside of the unit, which can be a problem during cleaning or travelling with spare glass sets. One thing is certain: any Ascent owner should have at least one spare glass set on hand at all times! Of course, you could always go with the custom-made wooden stem if you’re particularly prone to butter fingers.
Nevertheless, the Ascent has much more to admire, with an OLED screen and digital temperature control for accuracy and precision. Not only that, but DaVinci really packed as much as they could into this little unit with the ability to set customised vaporizing programs that switch between temperature settings without you having to do a thing. Combine this with the motion sensitive auto-shutoff function and you have yourself a high-tech device that knows just how you like it.
As for the location of the heating chamber, it’s located at the bottom of the unit and swings out to the side for easy filling. This is some feedback that DaVinci obviously listened to, influenced by complaints about the original DaVinci’s filling chamber being hard to access. The Ascent remedies this with an herb chamber that’s easy to access and quite a bit bigger than it’s predecessor.
2. Vapour Quality
Our quality rating: 75%
We’ll say it again; the vapour quality of the Solo is simply outstanding for a portable vaporizer. We strongly recommend it for those really looking for top-notch vapour from a handheld unit. It produces very clean and tasty draws that range from light, aromatic and tasty vapour on low settings to thick, milky and dense clouds at higher temperatures. The Solo is pretty air-tight with little air-flow coming through the stem, which is likely what’s responsible for the thick, visible vapour it can produce even at medium temperatures.
The airflow holes at the bottom of the stem can let some particles through but for the most part we’ve found draws to be very clean, even with a fine grind. If you grind your herbs very fine and do have an issue with inhaling particles, placing a screen in the bottom of the stem will remedy this easily.
The stainless steel heat chamber and insulating coating make for very reliable temperature consistency in the Solo, something absolutely crucial to its ability to produce great vapour. The chamber is able to stay at an even heat without fluctuating too much up or down, so your herbs continue to be evenly heated at your chosen temperature and consistently release vapour until they’re spent. This also makes the Solo incredibly efficient at conserving your material, delivering potent hits and satisfying effects with a small amount of herb.
Da Vinci Ascent:
Our quality rating: 71%
The Ascent is capable of some very aromatic and nice tasting vapour, thanks to the all glass vapour path, but not necessarily the thicker clouds that you can experience with the Solo. We’ve also found that vapour from the Ascent can be on the hot or dry side and can be slightly irritating.
Overall, we’ve found the Ascent’s vapour to be considerably thinner than the Solo’s, though it does taste nice. The digital control allows you to manually set the Ascent to any temperature you like and the programmable cycles allow you to vaporize in stages with zero effort. This method is great for those who like to start on lower temperatures to taste their herbs and then bump it up for fuller hits. The Ascent does this very well and adjusts temperatures extremely fast. Thicker clouds are possible with the Ascent on high settings, but we’ve found the Solo to produce visible and satisfying vapour at lower temperatures, too.
This is our gripe with the Solo. For a portable vaporizer, it’s not very….portable. It is light and about the size of a Red Bull can, so it technically could be a portable vaporizer if you wish. The fatal flaw in its design is the glass draw stem, which needs protection in your bag or pocket if you’re planning to take your Solo along to a friend’s house and don’t wish to find a smashed up stem when you get there. The Solo does have a car charger, though, making it a nice road companion that can fit in your cup holder.
Transporting the Solo isn’t entirely impossible, especially when you have the option of a Vapecase or a wooden stem, though a case will cost you points for discretion. For a unit that advertises as a portable vaporizer, this aspect could have been better thought-out in the design process (something DaVinci considered when they made their glass stem retractable), especially since Arizer got so much else right with this unit.
With that said, the Solo is a great at-home portable vaporizer. There’s nothing better than lounging out on the couch or walking around the house with your Solo in tow. You get comparable vapour quality to a tabletop vaporizer without being tethered to a machine to get your hits. If being able to take your vaporizer out and about isn’t high on your priority list, then the Solo really is a great choice.
Da Vinci Ascent:
The Ascent is truly a portable vaporizer, with all glass components held safely inside the unit. It’s around the same size as an early model smart phone and fits very nicely in your hand and pocket. It is a little heavy for its size, thanks to the two lithium ion batteries.
The Ascent can also be charged with the original Da Vinci car charger, making it a great vaporizer for the busy vaper who’s always on the go. You can take the Ascent out with you all day long and never lose the charge. The Ascent definitely scores major points in this category for being small, lightweight and able to be charged on the go.
All in all, the Solo is pretty unassuming. It’s a pretty nondescript looking machine, which scores points for stealth. You could probably charge it in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or office without raising any questions.
Apart from its modest appearance, the Solo is also very clean and quiet to use and doesn’t leak vapour, so it can be super discreet if you want to vape undetected. Because the vapour is so well contained, smell is kept to a minimum and dissipates quickly along with the vapour you exhale, so you’re not likely to leave any traces behind.
Da Vinci Ascent:
“Nice electric shaver!” is what some may say if they saw the Ascent lying around on your desk or counter top. They could be forgiven, as the Ascent really doesn’t have the appearance of something you might inhale from. At a glance, it would be easy to mistake for an old model smartphone, shaver or even some kind of obscure mp3 player. The Ascent also fits snugly in your hand and can be used without the draw stem for added discretion in situations where smoking is unacceptable.
However, the grill at the bottom of the herb chamber can allow particles to fall through, and this same grill has also been known to leak vapour at certain angles. Due to this, odour leakage may be a slight concern, but we haven’t noticed any significantly increased smell compared to other vaporizers.
5. Ease of Use
The Solo is a simple machine. It has seven pre-determined temperature settings so you can just turn it on, heat and go. It’s very easy to operate straight out of the box and provides very little room for error. The automatic 12 minute shut-off feature removes any risks should you forget to turn it off.
Da Vinci Ascent:
The Ascent is fully digital and comes with a wide range of temperature options. You can set it at a specific preferred temperature or create programs that automatically switch between temperatures so you can vape your herbs in stages without having to do a thing. This machine offers all the latest technology, but will have you reaching for the instruction manual as you try to figure it all out.
Still struggling to make a decision? We did say this showdown was going to be close! After scrupulously examining these two hand-held marvels from every angle, we’ve come to the conclusion that both are superior units suited to very different users. Both have big selling points, both were made to satisfy hardcore vapour lovers, and both have their suitability for different situations. The Solo wins on quality, the Da Vinci on portability and high-tech features. So which one would we ultimately choose?
For at home: Arizer Solo
For on-the-go: Da Vinci Ascent
For vapour quality: Arizer Solo
For the features: Da Vinci Ascent
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