It's only been a decade since the first iPhone came out. That's weird, because it's difficult to imagine the world without it. I tried last week after reading a bunch of old articles predicting that the device would flop, many of which weirdly penned by people who still write professionally. Would Uber exist? Would Facebook have survived? Would we still have keyboards on our phones, like the Samsung BlackJack II I stupidly bought instead of the original iPhone? Would—
Where were we? Oh, right, my review of Arizer Solo II, a new portable loose-leaf vaporizer from Canada. It's been about half a decade since this type of vape hit the market, but we've not yet reached consensus on the vape's ideal form the same way we have with smartphones. Rather than just create a Pax knock-off, vapemakers are constantly tinkering with the shape, size and format.
The Solo II (about $225) is a weird one. It's a big 'un, the size of a slimmed-down soda can. It loads from the top but doesn't have a traditional mouthpiece. Instead, after loading your finely ground cannabis, you have to insert one of the two included glass tubes.
Assembled and ready to toke, it's about as tall as a standard paperback, but topped with a fragile glass spire that can tumble loose if you try shoving it in your pocket.
The Solo II comes with a little belt carrier of the type your uncle used to carry his Motorola flip phone in, but do you really want to holster your vape when there are so many others that'll fit in your pocket? The charger is not USB, meaning I had to find an old-school power outlet to plug it into.
So, as a portable vaporizer, this portable vaporizer is not great. And if you're going desktop—err, tabletop—there are cheaper, more powerful options.
But, after spending some time with the device, I came to appreciate the things the Solo does well. That larger size means it feels nice in the hand and gives it room for a nice, big battery. (I'm still on my first charge.) The oven is wide and large, and you won't feel like you're performing a root canal while working the pick on it. Obviously, that glass tube means the vapor that hits your mouth is nice and soft. The device heats up very fast, and updates you on its progress on a basic digital screen without the need for an app or Bluetooth pairing.
Despite the name, the Arizer Solo II is not a device I'd use solo, or on the go. Rather, I've come to think of it as a very nice "porch piece." If you're having some friends over for a session in the backyard, this device is almost purpose-built for your needs.
The smooth vapor, long battery life and large oven are all ideal in that situation. And the glass mouthpiece is not only reassuring to people who are used to a bong, it can be quickly disinfected with a lighter, the old-fashioned way. The draw comes easy—no sucking required. There's even a water pipe attachment available for a very reasonable $15 and a session timer that allows you to specify how long you want it to keep toasting your flower.
As I said, for a portable loose-leaf vape this baby leaves something to be desired. But as a party vape, it's pretty much ideal. And since it's large and rather ungainly, you don't have to worry about it walking off with someone.