The H-Priv from Smoktech
By Mike Huml
The H-Priv 220W from Smoktech is a dual-18650, variable-wattage series box mod with a squeezable button on the side. As a store owner, the most pertinent question that needs to be asked is: Did the X Cube II sell well in your shop?
In a nutshell, the H-Priv is a slightly smaller X Cube II that trades gimmicky LEDs for a slicker aesthetic. The board that it uses and the screen are identical to those of the X Cube II, and while the button has undergone an improvement or two, it feels very familiar. The battery door is now a slide-out component that’s objectively a huge improvement over the side-mounted magnetic door of the X Cube II. Overall, the H-Priv is similar enough to the X Cube II that any store owner should have a good idea as to how well it’s going to sell.
The fire button functions in the same exact way as on the X Cube II. It’s a firing bar located on the side, but the H-Priv has done a better job of incorporating its functionality into the design. The angular lines give a geometric aesthetic that obviously had more thought put into it compared with the X Cube.
Ergonomically, the button press is very familiar. While the button itself has been tightened up and doesn’t wobble quite as much, the feel of the button press and the feedback are identical. It’s a mushy feel with a slight bump at the actuation point. However, the button can only be pressed from the top, which adds a little comfort and reduces the chance of it being pressed accidentally. Additionally, the infamous firing delay from the X Cube remains present here, only adding to the sluggish feel of the mod. It’s a shame, because the design of the mod is akin to something of a sports car, something that should be fined-tuned for optimal performance. Unfortunately, there is a stark contrast in how the H-Priv looks and how it feels to use.
In addition to the design, the menu system has also been trimmed down in large part due to the omission of the LEDs and their accompanying settings. Three clicks of the fire bar will bring you into the main menu, of which there are four options. From here, changes can be made to the firing mode, puff counter, settings and power. The H-Priv is capable of quite a bit when it comes to its firing modes. Variable wattage is available, in addition to temperature control with nickel, titanium or stainless steel. Within those options, the user can choose among several options such as “hard,” “soft,” “normal,” etc. These settings add or subtract a certain percentage of the set wattage so that the user can fine-tune his or her experience. In reality, these settings are simply filler, as there is no difference between firing the device in “normal” mode at 85 watts and firing it in “hard” mode at 80 watts. It’s a bit redundant and adds to the clutter of the menu system unnecessarily. Going a level deeper, after selecting the option for temperature control, the user is asked to select the type of wire, then the TCR value, followed by SC or DC, which refers to single coil and dual coil, respectively. It’s admirable that Smoktech attempts to allow customization on this level, but the execution is a bit lacking compared to other mods that offer virtually the same experience with far less clutter. However, once everything is finally set, temperature control works just fine. Like with any other device short of a DNA 200, the accuracy of the temperature is something that the user needs to experiment with to get the desired experience.
On the plus side, the screen is located on the top of the device and is easy to read. Two buttons are located below the screen. They are used to adjust the power or temperature and can optionally be used to navigate the menu. The puff counter option works as it should but isn’t a feature that generally makes or breaks a sale. The menu option for settings allows the user to change several variables, such as screen contrast and orientation, how long the screen remains active after use, the time and date that is shown on the lock screen, the activation of the lock function itself, firmware upgrading, and the resistance of the atomizer. The last option may become necessary due to what appears to be a glitch in the software. Through testing of several devices, it was discovered that the H-Priv has an issue with detecting new atomizers. Like many devices, when a new atomizer outside of the preset range is attached, the user is asked to tell the device if the new atomizer is the same or different as the one stored in the device’s memory. For the H-Priv, the only option is “no.” When the user attempts to select “yes,” the H-Priv returns to the main screen, but the user is prompted with the same question with each button press, rendering the device unvapable until “no” is selected. This is not an isolated issue; it occurred with several devices. Hopefully, this is addressed in a future firmware update. For now, the user must make do with selecting “no” each time a new atomizer is attached and possibly changing the resistance manually via the menu.
Lastly, the H-Priv claims to be a 220-watt device, and it undoubtedly is, provided the attached atomizer has low resistance. With a maximum output voltage of 8 volts, resistances below approximately 0.3 ohms should be able to hit 220 watts. However, as with any regulated device, the wattage is split between the total numbers of batteries, meaning each battery will be effectively providing 110 watts. It shouldn’t be a huge stretch of the imagination to estimate the battery life one will achieve by using the H-Priv at 220 watts, and as such, it isn’t recommended. It’s a huge strain on the batteries, and extreme caution is advised when using the device at high power levels.
The H-Priv improves upon the popular X Cube II dramatically from an aesthetic perspective, with a great, trimmed-down look and tweaked firing bar. However, the performance isn’t as impressive. While it functions, mostly, how it should, many issues present in the X Cube have found their way into the H-Priv. The soupy firing button and relatively long firing delay can be managed but are deal breakers for many consumers. However, that didn’t deter sales of the X Cube II in many markets. Carrying the H-Priv should be a very easy decision because it shares both the strengths and weaknesses of the X Cube II. In short, in a market favorable toward the X Cube II, the H-Priv should do very well with the new design and aesthetic improvements. In a more discerning market, it may be a tough sell. In an industry with such broad diversity, every new device needs to do more than sell itself. It also needs to stand apart from the rest, and while the H-Priv may do exactly that in terms of looks, there are other options with more to offer under the hood at a similar or less expensive price point.