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Rise of the Pod Mod or, Resurgence of the Cigalike v2.0

Rise of the Pod Mod or, Resurgence of the Cigalike v2.0


By now you're sure to have seen them. Maybe they're even what's drawn you into, or back to vaping. Super-compact mods, barely bigger than a cigarette, that come paired with rechargeable batteries and pre-filled liquid cartridges that, unlike the Big Tobacco stuff you get at the corner market, don't taste like hell. We're back to talk cigalikes again, of course.


We've been talking about these devices for a while now, but as they continue to occupy a bigger and bigger niche in the premium vaping market, they're deserving of some more blog real estate.


Cigalikes, of course, were pretty much the first e-cigs to hit the market back in the mid-2000s. Those devices, though, left a lot lacking – the atomizer and the liquid reservoir were two separate pieces (and the liquid cartridges were messy and finicky), while the batteries quickly lost their charge and the auto-draw ones that allowed you to vape without pushing a button were finicky, sometimes failing to engage and other times burning through to a dry hit when exposed to wind or even a fan. We're not even considering the weak vapor clouds and nearly-absent flavors achieved using these mods – forget cloud chasing, if your setup wasn't working perfectly you wouldn't even be able to produce enough vapor to reliably mimic the sensation of smoking.


With cigalikes largely abandoned by serious vapers, mods got bigger, more powerful and, to the detriment of would-be quitters, more confusing. The auto-fire feature was abandoned completely, meaning you'd have to commit to pressing a button to control your draws off a vape – that was enough, it seemed, to turn off a horde of smokers and potential converts right there. Variable voltage begat variable wattage begat temperature control – all requiring knowledge of how electricity works to pair a coil at the right resistance made of the right wire with the right power setting to tune in the perfect vape.


For those of us who'd been through the paces, and who'd become juvenile scientists studying Ohm's Law out of necessity during the mech era, all of these new features were compelling must-have tech. But we missed out on something big – every new thing that made vaping less and less like smoking erected another barrier of entry to a smoker who just wanted to quit without seriously nerding out. This great gift of being tobacco-free got farther and farther out of reach for the over-50 technophobe crowd – the people who arguably have the most urgent need to get out of the smoking game.


That's where the new cigalikes come in. They're the least fiddly of any vape setup, ever – charge battery, pop pre-assembled pod onto battery, vape. No settings to adjust, no coil to prime, no hardware to assemble – it's just plug-and-play.


For a lot of people, there's an appeal in that. And judging by the popularity of devices like the JUUL or the BO One Pod Mod, there are a lot of people these kind of devices appeal to.


Perhaps one day cigalike starters will transition to more traditional box mods (or whatever today's "box mods" look like a year or two from now). Maybe they'll quit smoking and taper down their nicotine intake until they quit vaping too. Maybe they'll puff happily away on entry-level technology for years to come, just like they'd smoked cigarettes for years prior. We can't say how things will work out, but the fact that there's a way that things might end up working out that involve less tobacco getting burned and inhaled is a win, no matter how you cut it.