The Pico RTA by The Vape Review: Big Review, Small Atty

This is a very special review! Due to the fact that the Pico RTA has a lot of things going on (mesh, fiber, and clearo coil compatible) I have decided to split it into multiple pages! Here is the index:

  1. Impressions and Introduction to the Pico RTA.
  2. Specs & the Playing Field
  3. Cotton Build Review
  4. Mesh Build Review
  5. CLR Coil Review
  6. Use Case Review & Conclusion

You can skip to the last page for as much of a TL;DR as I’ll be able to provide!

Impressions and Introduction

I received this RTA second hand by purchasing it from a cohort of mine. It came with the CLR Adapter, but sadly I was not able to secure a micro chamber.

Pico 1
The Pico RTA, CLR adapter, and spares.

The Pico RTA is an interesting atomizer. I had seen Damian’s review, and that was about it. It provided some useful information as far as building goes, but it didn’t really provide me with the kind of information which interests me (I don’t believe Damian is a TC vaper), but it is definitely a good primer and I highly recommend checking it out.

When I first opened up the package, I saw the PMMA was fogged, which made me so sad! But when I filled it up with my liquid, it became crystal clear, which made me so happy, so be on the lookout if it looks like yours arrives fogged. The whole atomizer is also very smooth, texturally. It’s so smooth. I keep touching (borderline molestering) this atomizer because it’s so smooth.

It really is a handsome tank, as well. I adore the way it looks, especially on top of my DEV2+. I almost like its looks as much as I do the K.Loud+G, but with the Ultem tank section and drip tip on the way, you may not have to wait long for the two to be equally attractive.

Pico 8

The AFC can get a little hairy – it’s a little whistley if it isn’t aligned just so, and sometimes it doesn’t always want to move if the atty is screwed all the way down, and it requires some lubrication because it’s all held together with o-rings, but once it’s all lubed up, it has smooth action yet stays where you put it.

I found the top fill can be a little tricky – you need to have the right pace for filling it, but you need to get it sealed back up quickly, because it can leak all up on you, which makes you sticky and gross. It’s not a pro or a con, but there is a bit of a ritual involved where you have to figure out how hard you need to squeeze your nipple-top bottle (eye droppers can work, but much too slowly to always get out leak-free) to get out of there without a mess.

The fill ports are a little on the small side.
The fill ports are a little on the small side.

A point of order before we move forward – much ado has been made about the “wasted capacity” because the wick holes are so high on the Pico. This is a hair overblown, as the wick holes are as high off the bottom of the tank as the Hurricane, so they just seem higher because the atomizer is so short. Granted, the chamber is further in from the wall than the Hurricane’s, because it is smaller, but you’re really not losing much at all if your wicking method doesn’t manage to reach all the way down to the bottom of the tank.

This is definitely an atty that takes some getting used to. Getting the TC to work takes more than one attempt. It seems a little weak at first, so I turn the temp way up (to around 500*F/260*C), and it performs fine. After letting it sit for 15 minutes or so, I recalibrate and then the TC is spot on and I can drop the temperature to my normal range.

Building this has a bit of a learning curve as well. Because you can’t get into the deck connected to the 510 on your ohm meter/mod, you need to free hand it a bit. It’s not much of a challenge; after a handful of builds, it’s only a few seconds longer than being able to use a 510 stabilized atty.

These two things cut into convenience some, but so much so that I wouldn’t recommend it? Let’s find out.

The Kabuki by House of Hybrids

The Kabuki tank by the venerable House of Hybrids! The Kabuki uses Nautilus coils made by Aspire. Despite the fact that there is and aftermarket RBA deck for it, I will not be qualifying it as an RTA. Let’s see how it holds up:

For those of you wondering about the Kabuki, here are my impressions so far:

  • At first it was a FIDDLY DAMN BITCH. Things were getting crossthreaded, and I couldn’t get it apart or get the coil in right (so much so that at first I thought I had a poorly machined coil). The biggest key is to make sure the bottom O-ring that secures the glass and threads are well-lubricated, it makes sure that everything screws together alright.
  • The flavor is definitely great. I haven’t used my Nautilus mini in a while, but it is definitely warmer than my Nautilus mini ever was.
  • I don’t have as much worry about the glass being super janky like it can be with the Nautilus mini. The threaded top of the glass on the Nautilus was always worrisome to me.
  • The drip tip is different from any other one I’ve ever owned. It’s friction fit, but that’s not the difference. It’s very wide, but it’s not to be a wide bore drip tip, because it is very wide bore. It does something really great for texture, and the delrin is great for keeping heat from transferring. I tried the drip tip on the Cane, but it wasn’t quite the same. Still great, but not the same, so that leads me to believe it’s something about the tank.
  • The airflow control requires a hex wrench, which is not for me, but I see the logic behind it. It’s a very Zen thing to do – you put your setting in and you leave it, no fucking with it. Same thing for his PVs being mechanical, I think.

It’s a good tank, a really good tank, but I don’t think I could heartily recommend it to someone who wasn’t ready for every fill-up (three times tonight so far) to have a good amount of hassle because the coil doesn’t like to stay in one place.

There is a lot of stuff that isn’t quite there on this, though. The label has a full length YouTube URL for instructions – that’s ridiculous, right? Not a page on the House of Hybrids website, QR code, nor a shortened URL.

I’ve been doing a lot of thought on UX in the industry lately, and if there’s any interest, I guess I have some rambles on it, but I do have some rambles on this particular one:

Zen likes to talk about his devices being for quitters rather than vapers, and that’s the angle that I’m coming at when I ask this question: “Who is this tank for?” Even the stock tanks, the Nautilus and Nautilus Mini are easier to cope with for the mundane parts of personal vaporizer ownership, I imagine it’s even harder for people new to the whole thing.

I don’t think this is intended for intermediate vapers necessarily, either. There is an up-and-coming RTA deck for the Nautilus, but early reports are saying that it doesn’t fit the Kabuki, so it doesn’t even get the flexibility of the Subtank or the Kraken V2.

This definitely isn’t for the more advanced among us, either; not just for the same reasons it’s not for the intermediate vapers, but it also doesn’t have the quality of life features that are present in a variety of other tanks either, and it’s in a weird space price-wise.

It’s a good tank, it’s got great flavor and texture, it’s just outside the price/performance curve of a lot of things and it isn’t super easy to live with. I don’t think I could recommend it to anyone unless you have a bunch of cash floating around that you can spare.

The Kabuki can be found at Provape.