Vaporesso is best known for its numerous atomizer tanks, most notably the very popular Gemini, which is available in two styles, as a sub-ohm clearomizer tank or an RTA, and in either standard 22mm diameter or mega 25mm diameter. Vaporesso does, however, offer two Temperature Control Box Mods — the Target 75VTC Mod, which is shaped like a pistol grip video game controller, and the Tarot 200VTC Mod, which is the subject of this review.
MSRP for the Vaporesso Tarot 200VTC box mod is $69.99, but, as is nearly universal with vaping products, anyone who pays that has been taken for a ride. The Tarot 200VTC is currently available from numerous online vendors over the range of $40–57. Certain Chinese vendor sites offer free shipping. I’d advise against paying $57, however. My strong suspicion is that this mod will be discounted before too long.
Writing reviews for vaping hardware can be a very mixed bag. In general, the commercial vaping products industry has upped its game considerably over the past two years, to the point where many products offer superb design and performance. The difficulty with those reviews, from my perspective as a reviewer, is coming up with anything critical to list. On the other hand, some products are lemons, even these days. The difficulty with those is finding something good to write and not going over the top with negativity.
Then there’s a third category: the odd ducks — hardware that’s sort of cool, but is flawed nonetheless or somehow leaves much to be desired. The Vapresso Tarot 200VTC falls into that category. If the Tarot box mod were a movie, we’d title it “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird.”
OK, good news first. The Tarot 200VTC is an attractive device, neither too big nor too heavy for a dual-18650 mod. The design is more interesting and aesthetic than the plain rectangular hobby boxes that flooded the market for some years. The contrasting carbon fiber and painted zinc alloy of the body work well together in various color combinations — all black, black with orange or purple accents, and the one I received for review, gray with white accents.
The hexagonal fire and up/down buttons are clicky, with good tactile feedback and no rattle. The different modes (wattage or temp control choices) are accessed by a third, smaller button (the same as Eleaf uses in the iStick TC series), which I happen to like.
Internal construction is clean, and the magnetic battery door secures well to the body with no misalignment or shifting. Good news there, even though the battery sled contains no fabric pull to make removal of the batteries easier. I can live with that, however.
Bucking the trend toward greater sophistication and user choices in temperature control, the Tarot 200VTC chooses a bare-bones approach. TCR values are programmed into the chip and can’t be adjusted. The chip has TC settings for nickel, titanium, and stainless steel wire, but only 316 stainless. I suppose TC would work with 304 or 317 stainless, but no tweaking is possible. Highest wattage in temp control cannot be set by the user; the chip automatically chooses the wattage.
Also, the chip won’t fire below 0.13 ohms. The standard lower limit for current TC boxes is 0.05 ohms. The inability to fire lower than 0.13 ohms consigns the Tarot 200VTC to the previous generation of Temperature Control mods and seriously handicaps its ability to compete in the crowded box mod marketplace, where “new and improved” is a weekly event. The Tarot is also not upgradable, so Vaporesso can’t address the issue by lowering the resistance limit for users with a simple firmware update.
None of these is a deal-breaker. The Tarot 200VTC could qualify as a decent starter mod for someone beginning to experiment with Temperature Control. Such vapers are likely to use sub-ohm clearo tanks whose nickel-coiled factory heads never go below 0.15 ohms. And so what if wattage in TC mode can’t be set? The device will automatically limit the power — that’s what temp control does, for heaven’s sake.
But one glaring flaw stands out for me: The programmed settings for temp control yield an underpowered vape in TC mode. Even with the temperature cranked up to 550° F, I found the vape experience to be distinctly anemic. C’mon Vaporesso, haven’t we gotten past that stage yet? By contrast, power seemed ample and accurate using straight wattage, and the experience in that mode was identical to my many other mods — full and satisfying.
Basically, the Vaporesso Tarot 200VTC uses an outdated chip for temp control. Had the mod been offered a year ago, we might have given it a pass. Now, however, its chip has been lapped by other mods that offer better TC performance and much more user control.
Numerous customers and reviewers have reported that the Tarot 200VTC suffers from occasional but persistent misfiring, meaning that nothing happens when the firing button is pressed, and the vaper has to press it again. If that happens once, no big deal. But when misfires continue to sporadically occur at random, aggravation mounts. You want to throw the mod right out the window. Early 20-watt iSticks had that problem back in 2014. Everyone hated misfires then, and nothing has changed since. Everyone still hates misfires. In fairness, my particular unit didn’t misfire even once, so perhaps that was a beta problem that Vaporesso fixed for the current production runs.
A gray area neither uniformly pro or con is the fact that the Tarot 200VTC has no USB port. This means no USB recharging of batteries and no firmware upgradability. The former is an important omission for some vapers, but completely irrelevant for others. Many of us have a large stock of 18650 high-drain batteries and a stable of dedicated external chargers. We appreciate the quick-and-easy one-minute battery swap rather than the agonizingly slow four-hour USB recharge.
Lack of firmware upgradability, however, is becoming an issue for many vapers. Innovation and improvements are so essential these days that the lack of an upgrade path dramatically limits the useful lifespan of the chip, and thus the device.
All the problems I’ve listed have plagued numerous other mods — none are unique to the Tarot 200. But so what? They’re still negatives, and the Tarot 200VTC simply suffers from too many of them to be a contender in the aggressively competitive marketplace of high-power, temp control box mods.
Whether or not the Vaporesso Tarot 200VTC has enjoyed its day in the sun, it’s nevertheless a mod whose time has passed. It’s ripe for retirement into the Vaping History Museum, which goes to show how high our expectations have become, as well as how incredibly fast things change in this young industry. One day you’re the new kid on the block, fresh-faced and vital, strutting your stuff down the street; the next day you’re an old man with a cane sitting forlornly on a park bench in Miami Beach.
Not recommended. If someone gives you a Tarot 200VTC, great! Use it happily in wattage mode. Otherwise, significantly better temp control mods are available for similar prices.