Pod mod systems offer convenience – plug-and-play simplicity – at a price. As anyone who uses closed-system-vapes (or pod mods) knows, the cost of buying replacement pods soon adds up. Some pods are only good for about 200 puffs, then they’re out. Either you have to replace, or try to refill and hack. Wouldn’t it be great to have something with the ease of use of a pod mod, which offered vapers more freedom and choice?
Then along comes Joyetech, with a device quite unlike anything we’ve seen before. It’s called the Penguin and certainly wins points for being adorable. But don’t let its cute appearance fool you. The device packs a 2000 mAh internal battery, and comes with a unique, refillable cartridge system. This holds 8.8 mL of e-liquid (or 2 mL, if you buy the spuriously named “TPD” version). Joyetech has developed a new coil system they call JVIC (Juice Vertical Injection Coil) for the Penguin. The little fella comes with two different coils, at 0.6 ohm and 0.25 ohm. I’ve seen the kit selling for under $25 online.
How does the Penguin perform? Let’s take a closer look and find out!
Disclaimer: We received the ATOPACK Penguin from Heavengifts for the purpose of this review.
The ATOPACK Penguin comes neatly packaged and has everything you need to start vaping, minus the e-liquid. The mod looks like it’s made from zinc alloy. Ergonomically the device is a joy, fitting perfectly in the hand with smooth, rounded edges and corners. The large firing button protrudes minimally out from the body and has a little give to it. No button rattle however. Directly underneath is the micro USB port, so the Penguin can be charged standing upright.
The cartridge housing is made out of PETG (PET plastic with the addition of glycol). This information is printed on the cartridge label, along with a useful capacity measure, to see how much e-liquid is remaining. There’s a few extra lines where you can fill out what you have inside, including brand, flavor, nicotine, and PG/VG ratio. The mouthpiece and airflow hole cap off the cartridge in a single molded piece, and ends on the side opposite the firing button with a cutout tab. This tab makes the pod easier to click out of the mod with your thumb.
Turning it over, a single molded piece of silicon separates the airflow chimney and tank reservoir and fits snugly in place inside the cartridge. If you take this out, watch out for a tiny metal tab – it fits between the silicon and PETG housing on the firing button/USB port side and reinforces the silicon.
The JVIC coil heads slot into the silicon recess. The housing is ceramic, but the coils use kanthal and organic cotton as wicking material. The 0.6 ohm coil is labeled as a MTL type coil; the 0.25 ohm has a larger inner diameter and is the DL alternative.
The Penguin is turned on and off with five clicks. Battery life is indicated by five small LEDs located between the firing button and USB port. The lights automatically adjust to display how much battery life you have left.
It’s a good idea to prime the coil with a few drops of e-liquid before you fill up the tank reservoir. I’m vaping on the Penguin with a great e-liquid from the Nom Nomz line called Blue Cheese, a blueberry cheesecake vibe with 3 mg/mL nicotine and 75/25 VG/PG ratio. Shouts to Richard for the sample!
I started off with the 0.6-ohm coil. Joyetech describes this as a mouth-to-lung vape. To me it feels more like a restricted lung hit, as there isn’t much resistance or tightness to the draw. It falls somewhere between classic MTL territory and direct-lung vaping. Occasionally I notice slight wicking problems with the relatively high-VG e-liquid I’m using. Perhaps it would be better to stay under 70/30 VG/PG for the 0.6-ohm coil. The amount of vapor produced is decent, but not overwhelming.
Some reviewers have mentioned that the flavor on the 0.6 coil is superior to the 0.25-ohm alternative, but I feel like the Penguin really comes into its own as a DL device. Having used it for about a week now, I naturally gravitate to the 0.25-ohm coil head. The draw is much airier, and flavor tastes richer in my opinion. And then there’s the clouds…
Admittedly, I thought the Penguin looked a bit silly at first. But I’m surprised by the performance it puts out. This little guy is quite the flavor chamber, and does well on the cloud front too. For a mid-wattage sub ohm vape, I can’t fault it! Aside from minor wicking problems, the coils are performing well and still producing great flavor after a week of constant use. We’ll have to see how they hold up in the long-term. When you do have to replace them, replacement coils are available in a 5-pack for around $6.
Although the Penguin is a direct output device, I don’t notice a significant change in performance as the battery charge decreased. With 2000 mAh capacity, it has lasted me a full day of vaping. You can also vape while you charge the device. In any case, charge time from empty to full takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes.
I only have one or two issues with the Penguin. Although the cartridge is well made and leak-free, changing coils and refilling can get a little sticky. The ceramic cradle for the coil is robust and clicks into place, but it does build up a bit of residue. Be sure to have some paper towel on you when you refill or change out coil heads.
The other issue applies more to the 2 mL cartridge than the 8.8 mL. As you have no window on the outer housing, it will be very difficult to judge when it’s time to refill. Furthermore, I’m not convinced that the 2 mL cartridge is truly TPD compliant. For starters, a tank must be “leak-proof, tamper-evident, child-resistant, and protected against breakage”. I’ve dropped the Penguin twice and the device hasn’t suffered in performance. But I don’t see any way of child-proofing the cartridge. Anyone with fingernails can get that ceramic cradle out of the silicon base.
If you can, go for the larger cartridge and save yourself the constant refilling. At present, there’s no possibility to buy an extra cartridge separately, so you’re stuck with the one you have unless you buy the starter kit twice.
Joyetech’s ATOPACK Penguin is proof that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. I’ve rarely seen a vaping device that looks cute and performs this well. Joyetech have thrown out the rulebook on this one and created an innovative system that will satisfy people who like to vape without the hassle of refilling or coil building.
I personally don’t rate the 0.6-ohm coils. They’re an awkward compromise between a proper MTL vape and a restricted lung hit. The direct lung coils, however, are great. Finally, a device with the convenience of a closed-system-vape and the freedom of a truly refillable system.
If you’re an epic cloud chaser, you’ll be looking for a higher-wattage device. If, however, you like a mid-wattage, flavorful vape, the Penguin is certainly worth trying out.