Area pipe makers Prrl Labs want to replace your Bic lighter with the Neo, a handheld atomizer that can turn (almost) any pipe, from spoon to sherlock to water, into an authentic, noncombusting dry herb vaporizer.
Prrl Labs created the Neo atomizer as an alternative to lighters that burn away subtle terpene profiles before the user can experience the full flavor of their smoke. Inspired by Oregon’s wealth of craft cannabis, Prrl’s development team created both the Neo and its companion pipe, the Terp Surfer, to ensure users are getting the most from their cannabis, rather than burning most of its goodness away in favor of chest shattering, overcooked hits.
We auditioned the Neo as well as its companion piece, the Terp Surfer pipe, to see just how replaceable our lighter collections are and how versatile a unit the Neo can be. Here’s how it all went down:
What is the Neo/Terp Surfer?
The Neo is a handheld atomizer (fancy talk for electric heating element, or e-lighter) roughly the size and weight of a child-size lightsaber. It’s heavier than I anticipated, but also precisely as manageable as a small bottle of hot sauce.
The Neo’s heating element is meant to fit snugly atop the bowl of the companion Terp Surfer, a 5-inch surfboard-shaped wooden pipe with a removable quartz bowl that clicks neatly into a titanium docking ring on its widest end. The Terp Surfer’s bowl fits perfectly within the Neo’s heating element, purportedly creating an airtight seal for a seamless puff.
The Neo can also be used with the pipes in your established collection, an assertion we tried out in our own stone zone with a medium-sized, generic glass spoon pipe and a standard head shop beaker bong/water pipe.
How does it work?
We auditioned the Neo/Terp Surfer with a few grams of mimosa flower, a cultivar we chose deliberately for the soft, citrusy flavors so often lost beneath a butane lighter. First, we situated the Neo. It has a digital interface on one side that controls temperature and intensity, a heater on one end, and a USB-C charging port on the other.
Three buttons bookend the digital screen, a larger power button and two small round navigation buttons. Three clicks of the power button turns the unit on and displays between one and five diamonds indicating heat level. We used the smaller navigation buttons to dial down the setting to the recommended two diamonds, then two more clicks of the power button warms the unit up and tracks the seconds until it’s ready to use.
Sustained pressure on the power button keeps the heat up while vaporizing the weed. It only seemed like a drag on the front end; once the unit was pre-heated and humming along, it was as easy to use as a Bic lighter.
The Neo preserved the flavor and grassy inhale of the first two hits of herb, but if the bowl wasn’t stirred around after each hit, the greenery would begin to combust under the Neo’s sustained heat. Otherwise, the whole affair delivered on its initial promise. It made a fairly simple wooden pipe into a high-performance dry herb vape with medium fanfare.
When we tried it with other utensils, I was delighted to learn that, through no planning of my own, most of the bowls in my glass collection were perfectly round and more or less the same size (less than 1 inch) and, as such, compatible with the Neo, which is what convinced me of the its value. Seeing how easily it adapted to my established glass collection, effectively eliminating the need for butane completely, was illuminating. On a spoon pipe and generic bong, it worked like a charm, but my Session Goods water pipe required an adaptor (silicone adaptors are included with the Neo).
The Bottom Line
The Neo is essentially a $200 forever replacement for the butane lighter you keep with your pipe bong. It’s a lot harder to misplace, but it won’t light your joints. I tried. Your results may vary.