There are some key factors to consider when choosing between a portable or desktop device. With so many things to consider when purchasing a vaporizing unit, sometimes the simplest things can be overlooked in favor of focus on brands, aesthetics, and price. This guide will zoom out and look at two important considerations in the areas of equipment and technique.
EQUIPMENT: Portable vs Desktop
Desktop units are perfect for enjoying with groups. Whether it’s a few friends, an event such as a party, or even for use at a social club. Aside from a greater capacity, this type makes a great choice because they connect to an external power source via plug- which means no worries about running out of batteries at an inopportune time. Many rigs also come with attachments to accommodate multiple users at one time, so another plus for sharing the experience.
Non-portable units also often allow for more control over the vapor itself. Their larger size makes them more powerful, offers space for a larger heating element, and can feature more precise temperature controls than most portable models on the market. Being able to adjust the heat based on the material being vaporized means enhanced control over flavor and aroma, which greatly affects experience.
However, the technology around portable models has advanced considerably, and users who don’t want to sacrifice precise temperature control for portability will find that there are quality options today that don’t cost a fortune.
When it comes to convenience and discretion, portable models always win out. Small, lightweight, and with designs that could easily be mistaken for the latest tech accessory, these units are the preferred choice for those want an everyday device that fits easily into a pocket or small purse, and won’t call attention to itself.
Though they do depend on batteries which need to be recharged (the most common being the 510 threaded type), many will last for days for a single user. Charging time varies from unit to unit, but the time should be indicated by the manufacturer or retailer. Some can take as long as four hours, while others as little as 30 minutes. Since this depends largely on battery size, faster isn’t always better. Charging options are typically via USB or Micro USB, and some models come with their own charging stands.
Ease of use varies within the categories of both desktop and portable units, and this is largely a personal preference. Simple, intuitive controls can be found on both types of devices, using knobs and switches (or even single-button activation), as can more advanced features, including digital displays and even vibrating signals.
TECHNIQUES: MTL vs DTL
Equipment choice is linked not just to things like portability and features, but also usage techniques. Two terms which are important to know when it comes to technique are MTL (“mouth to lung”) and DTL (“direct lung”).
MTL is the method most people who have used rolled tobacco are familiar with. This involves inhaling first into the mouth, and then into the lungs. It’s an indirect method, and has several distinct advantages. DTL tends to be a less instantly familiar method for the uninitiated, though those who have used a water pipe will understand the difference right away, as the technique is the same. With DTL the vapor is taken straight into the lungs, only passing through the mouth briefly.
The flavor of the material, whether dry, liquid, or concentrate, is a key component of the experience for many, and MTL allows for maximum contact with the tastebuds, and the ability to savor the often complex notes of the vapor.
With DTL, since the hit it taken directly into the lungs, the taste experience is not the same, and thus not the best choice for those whose first priority is flavor.
Though MTL is recommended for beginners, it’s far from reserved for novices. MTL is generally preferred by those who like an easy, light, smooth hit over what can be a harsher, heavier one with DTL. Since with mouth to lung the vapor passes through the mouth first, there is a slight cooling effect which results in a more gentle hit. With practice, DTL can also be a smooth experience- but there is a bit of a learning curve to consider.
On the other hand, DTL is the technique of choice for “cloud chasers”, or those who are seeking the kind of thick, billowing exhales often seen on social media shares. This quality is necessary for performing tricks and creating vape art because it lends itself to stunning visuals that are readily visible and more easily manipulated. With this is mind, it’s not the best technique if the discretion is a concern, for example in a public place. DTL clouds are obvious, and slow to dissipate, while MTL produces a much thinner and “quick dissolving” exhale.
When it comes to choosing a device that best suits each method, one clear difference is the size of the mouthpiece. For MTL, this part is typically smaller in general, with smaller holes. A narrower mouthpiece means less airflow and thus less vapor inhaled at once. For DTL, the device will allow for greater airflow with less effort, and that means a much wider mouthpiece with a larger opening.
Another important point is that most simple devices/kits, like pens, are not suitable for the DTL technique, which requires more power than these units are designed to provide. Understanding why some units are better for DTL can be complicated to navigate in terms of understanding the function of common device terms like coils, wattage, resistance, voltage, and ohms. Devices with a high degree of control and customizability can be adjusted to deliver an optimal experience for both MTL and DTL enthusiasts, but most people tend to fall into the MTL category and don’t require this level of flexibility. For cloud chasers, it will come down to low resistance coils, which allow for a higher wattage and a more satisfying DTL experience.
Of course there are many other factors to consider when settling on the right device, but these are among the most important in the context of lifestyle, and intended usage.
To get started exploring, these are some of our favorite makers of supplies and units: