Eleaf iStick 60W Review: Inexpensive, but Certainly Doesn’t Feel Cheap
And, I’m back with another (overdue) review for the Eleaf iStick 60w mod. Things have been hectic of late but the hardware waits for no man. The subject of this review bears a familiar name, temperature control, and a removable battery – the iStick TC60W, of course.
Eleaf has been cranking out iStick models for over a year now and, while I don’t have any sales data, I’d wager the iStick, in all its various iterations, is one of the best selling vaping devices of all time. The iStick is available in configurations ranging from the tiny iStick Mini 20W to the not-so-tiny dual 18650 iStick 100W. Eleaf is now dabbling in temperature control and the iStick 60W is their second device to feature the technology.
Also sent along as part of the iStick 60W kit is the Eleaf Melo 2 sub-ohm clearomizer. Do the iStick 60W and Melo 2 hold their own among the mind-numbingly vast array of TC devices of sub-ohm tanks on the market? That’s what I hope to answer for you in this iStick 60w review.
The iStick 60W kit used for this review was provided by Vapor Beast.
Eleaf iStick 60W Review: All in One
The Packaging and Included Stuff
The iStick 60W Kit, like all Eleaf products, is nicely packaged and includes user manuals which are actually well written and useful, albeit a little small. The kit includes the iStick 60 device, the Melo 2 atomizer, 1x Kanthal coil head, 1x titanium (Ti) coil head, 1x nickel (Ni200) coil head, colored tank o-rings, USB charging cable, and the aforementioned manuals.
The box has a scratch-off authentication code to verify you received a genuine Eleaf product.
iStick 60W Specifications:
Size: 90.0mm X 38mm X 28mm
Frame Color: Black, Silver
Cell type: 18650 cells (Sony US 18650 VTC4 is recommended)
Thread Type: 510 Thread
Rated Output Wattage: 1-60W
Temperature Range: 100-315â/200-600â (TC-Ni/Ti mode)
Features at a Glance:
- Removable 18650 battery
- Built-in microUSB charge port
- Lanyard connector
- Interchangeable side panels
- Stainless steel 510 connector
- OLED display
Melo 2 Specifications
Thread Type: 510 Thread
Material: 304 Stainless Steel
EC Head (0.3ohm)
EC TC-Ni Head (0.15ohm)
EC TC-Ti Head (0.5ohm)
Melo 2 Features
- Side fill port on top cap
- Cyclops style airflow control
- Pyrex tank
- Stainless steel drip tip
Build Quality and Ergonomics
We’ll start with the iStick 60W mod, I suppose. The device appears to be very well constructed. The battery door fits securely and sits flush with the body of the device. The spring loaded 510 pin allows your atomizers to sit flush with the top of the iStick 60W. The buttons are clicky and responsive but do have some slight rattle when the device is lightly shaken.
The OLED screen is clear and easy to read. The finish of the device is very nice and the minimal branding is tastefully done. The inside of the device is cleanly constructed and features a battery removal ribbon and spring loaded negative battery contact. Even though the iStick 60W is inexpensive, it certainly does not feel cheap. It is very comfortable to hold and the finish feels good in the hand.
Like the iStick 60W, the Melo 2 atomizer is very well constructed. All threading is very smooth and clean and the airflow control and fill port operate smoothly. The beveled ring at the base of the Melo 2 makes it very easy to mount on or remove from your device. The stainless steel drip tip features double o-rings and fits securely.
The coil heads screw into and out of the atomizer base with no drama. The brushed stainless finish is nicely done and no defects were observed. The Melo 2 and Eleaf logos are etched into the airflow control ring. Again, inexpensive but very good quality.
In summary, the iStick 60W and Melo 2 are very well built devices which belie their price point. I’ve owned several Eleaf products which have all been very nicely made and these two are no exception.
Usage and Performance
The iStick 60W features a fairly simple control system consisting of the fire button, wattage/temperature adjustment rocker, and menu button. Here’s how to use them:
Five clicks of the fire button will turn the device on or off.
Pressing and holding the menu button will cycle between VW, Ti, and Ni200 modes
While in VW mode, the adjustment rocker will increase or decrease the wattage (in 0.1W increments)
While in Ti or Ni200 mode the adjustment rocker will increase or decrease the temperature (in 1 degree increments)
While in Ti or Ni200 mode the wattage is adjusted by pressing the menu button and either up or down on the adjustment rocker
To lock atomizer resistance in Ti or Ni200 mode, press and hold the fire button and up on the adjustment rocker simultaneously
Stealth mode is activated by pressing and holding the fire button and down on the adjustment rocker simultaneously
To lock the device against any adjustment changes, hold up and down on the adjustment rocker simultaneously while the device is on
To rotate the display orientation, hold up and down on the adjustment rocker simultaneously while the device is off
Device protections and the associated screen messages:
Atomizer Protection: When vaping time exceeds ten seconds, the output shuts off automatically with
“Over 10s” display on the screen.
Atomizer Short-circuit & No Atomizer Protection: When atomizer short-circuit occurs, the OLED
screen will display “Atomizer Short”. The screen will display “No Atomizer” when there is no atomizer
Low-voltage Protection: When the voltage of battery is below 3.3V, the OLED screen will display âLockâ.
Charge the battery to unlock the device.
Temperature Protection: In TC-Ni/TC-Ti mode, if the actual temperature of coil is higher than the set
temperature, the screen shows “Temp Protection”.
Temperature Alert: If the temperature of device is over alert temperature, the output will shut off
automatically and the screen will display “Device Too Hot”. You can continue to vape after it cools down.
Here are some screen shots depicting the different modes and the data displayed. Note that in Ti mode the screen shows the resistance is locked via the padlock icon. Variable wattage (power) mode on top, Ni200 mode in the middle, Ti mode on the bottom.
So, operation is pretty straight forward. How does it perform? Overall, very well save for a buggy Ti mode. A brief rundown of my experiences with each mode:
Power mode: The iStick 60W performs very well in traditional variable wattage power mode. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews of regulated devices, you know I typically try to measure a device’s accuracy to the best of my rudimentary ability, often identifying the weak points of the chipset being reviewed.
Alas, my inline volt meter died and I wasn’t able to measure the output accuracy of the iStick 60W. However, I’ve been doing this for a minute now and my impressions from vaping the iStick are that it is pretty accurate. And, it also appears to actually step down voltage unlike a lot of other devices on the market. The iStick 60W, with its step down ability, is suitable for low power tank vaping. And, with 60W on tap, it will run a dripper with ease. A competent VW device, to be sure.
Ni200 mode: It was my intention to only test with the components of the kit, i.e. the Melo 2 and its included coil heads. However, the included Ni200 head had a short in it somewhere and simply didn’t work. To its credit, the iStick 60W was on the ball and threw an “atomizer short” message every time I tried to fire the Ni200 coil. So, in the trash went the Eleaf Ni200 coil. I had a Kanger Subtank Mini handy which had a 0.17 ohm Ni200 build in it using the RBA head.
The iStick found nothing to complain about with this arrangement and off we went. During my time with the iStick, I vaped it mostly with the Subtank in Ni200 mode and it performed very well. I’ve owned and tested quite a few temperature control devices and the iStick’s performance in Ni200 temperature control is very good. Not DNA200 good, but pretty darn good.
I couldn’t discern any performance difference between the iStick and my IPV D2 which I consider a very good temperature control device. The iStick 60W accurately read cold temperature and properly throttled back the power when the set temperature was achieved, providing a very consistent vape.
Ti mode: Well, you can’t win them all. Ti mode seems very buggy and inconsistent, often producing a very weak vape. I did test with the supplied Eleaf Ti coil head and it at least didn’t throw a short. I also suspect the coil head was not the culprit in the substandard performance in Ti mode. I quickly noticed that the iStick 60W did not accurately read cold temperature.
Rather, as soon as I fired the device the temperature would register about 100 degrees higher than room temperature and instantly smack into temperature control upon which it would throttle power back to nearly nothing. It was a frustrating experience. To somewhat mitigate the issue, I had to crank the temperature all the way to the maximum 600F in order to achieve any kind of decent vapor production. Even then, the problems still occurred although not as frequently.
I’m guessing Eleaf’s programming team doesn’t have a good handle on the temperature coefficient of resistance as it relates to titanium wire. There is no hope for a fix as the firmware of the iStick 60W is not upgradeable.
How about the Melo 2?
For the most part, I like the Melo 2 which doesn’t really surprise me as I’ve been a fan of Eleaf’s atomizers for some time. It’s not a great atomizer but a pretty good one. It has all the airflow you could want from a sub-ohm clearomizer and, as previously noted, is very nicely made. An extra glass tank would have been nice though. One drop and this thing would be out of commission.
Filling the Melo 2 is a breeze. Simply close off the airflow control, spin open the fill port on the top/side, and fill ‘er up… well, almost “fill” ‘er up. You’ll reach the level of the bottom of the chimney long before the full capacity of the Melo 2 is achieved. And, you’ll probably want to use a needle tip bottle if filling from the top port. Of course, you can always fill it from the bottom as well.
Vapor production is very good, especially in power mode with the Kanthal coil head. Flavor is “okay”. It’s not terrible but it’s not a flavor machine either. The coil heads have decent size e-liquid holes but they could probably be a little bigger. The Kanthal coil head claims to be good up to 80W but I detected some toastiness north of 55W. This is likely due to the size of the liquid holes and the viscosity of juice I was using. Also worth noting, I did not experience even a hint of any leaks from the Melo 2.
Another observation – Eleaf needs to get on the ball and supply a rebuildable base for the Melo 2 much like many of the other sub-ohm tank manufacturers have done. I think I’d love the Melo 2 if I could build on an RBA base ala the Kanger Subtank and not have to rely on factory coil heads.
The iStick 60W Kit is a perfectly usable combination of gear. It’s not without it’s faults but not many devices are. Honestly, this kit is very, very close to being downright excellent and would likely serve the needs of the majority of vapers. I can be kind of critical because, well, I’m supposed to be. I’ve never reviewed a piece of gear that didn’t have at least one drawback.
I try to be as objective as I can be and give you the good with the bad. If Eleaf fixes the Ti mode and brings an RBA head to the table for the Melo 2, this kit would knock it out of the park, especially considering its price point.
For the money, I think you would be hard pressed to find a better temperature control/atomizer combination. The fit and finish of the devices is remarkably good considering the price and the performance, while not without issues, is darn good. I’d have no trouble recommending this kit to someone looking to take the next step in their vaping journey.