You will notice I am modifying my review format a bit starting with the Blu Cigs electronic cigarette review.
At the beginning of the review I will now have my “executive summary” for folks that are trying to make a quicker decision.
This summary includes pros, cons, a bottom line and overall rating upfront.
If the initial summary doesn’t give you enough information on a given electronic cigarette the new full review format has even MORE information which now also includes a vapor production rating AND a section for customer service review and complaints.
I am not sure if I will go back and modify all my other reviews at this point, but please give me feedback on how you think it worked for the Blu Cigs electronic cigarette. Enjoy!
Blu Cigs Electronic Cigarette Review
Incredible value on starter kits and refill / replacement parts, free shipping on kits and cartridges, small size, portable battery charger included
Short battery life, charging indicators confusing, vapor production below average unless foil seals are removed from cartridges, shipping delays possible.
Blu Cigs are a great 3-piece electronic cigarette once you actually receive it and get used to a few quirks with the charging indicators and cartridges.
The starter kits are a great value (probably one of the best) since they include a spare battery, atomizer and 25 cartridges to start all shipped free (at the time of writing this). If you are lucky to not encounter any shipping delays some have had you will probably still have somewhat of a learning curve to climb once you receive your shipment even if you have smoked another electronic cigarette in the past.
Blu Cigs are extremely small which is good, but this causes battery life to be very short. It is great to have both a USB and Blu-Pack portable charger in such an economical starter kit to mitigate the short battery life, but neither charger clearly indicates when a battery is fully charged and are not explained well in the instructions. I do my best to explain in the full review.
Finally, the Blu Cigs replacement cartridges have nice foil seals to keep them fresh until the foil is punctured by the atomizer. Unfortunately, the foil needs to be peeled off in some cases before the atomizer will be able to produce adequate volume of the very mild tasting vapor.
Overall Rating: 3.9 (Above Average)
Full Blu Cigs Electronic Cigarette Review
- Manufacturer / Supplier: Blu Cigs
- Country: U.S.A.
- Model: Starter Kit “Black”
- Style: Super Mini
- Starter Kit Price: $59.95
- Cartridge Price (25-Pack): $25.00
- Number of flavors: 5
- Nicotine Levels Offered: High, Medium, Low, Zero
- Nicotine Solution Sold for Dripping: No
- Warranty: Yes 1-year (and 30-day money back guarantee)
Starter Kit Contents:
2 Lithium Batteries, 2 Atomizers, 25 Cartridges, Wall Charger, USB charger, Blu-Pack Portable Charger, Quick Start Guide, Instruction Manual.
Poor 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Excellent
- Ratings and Score:
- Batteries and Charger: 4.0
- Atomizer: 4.0
- Cartridges: 3.5
- Vapor Production: 3.0
- Construction / Quality: 4.0
- Cost: 5.0
- Overall: 3.9 (Above Average)
Cartridge Rating = 3.5
The Blu Cigs electronic cigarette offers 5 cartridge flavors (Tobacco, Menthol, Cherry, Vanilla and Java) that are all available in 4 different nicotine levels (0mg Non, 8mg Ultra Light, 12mg Light, 16mg Full).
Cartridges can be purchased in “cartons” of 25, but this will NOT last you as long as a carton of cigarettes. In fact I was getting only 80-100 puffs per cartridge which means for me 2-3 cartridges = about 1 pack of cigarettes, but as always your mileage may vary.
One somewhat unique thing about the Blu Cigs cartridges is that the reservoir that contains the nicotine solution is sealed using plastic backed foil. This foil gets punctured by the atomizer when the cartridge is installed and twisted slightly to come into contact with the nicotine solution.
I found this foil seal to be both good and bad.
First, the foil keeps the cartridge very fresh and keeps nicotine solution out of the other parts of the cartridge (at least initially) and as a result I never experienced the common problem of getting excess nicotine solution in the mouth when taking a drag.
Unfortunately, I sometimes didn’t have good vapor production with the Blu electronic cigarette using only the atomizer to puncture the foil seal. I was able to improve vapor production by first using a paper clip to force the reservoir out and then peeling the Blu Cigs foil seal off as much as I could.
Of course, you have to peel the seal off anyway if you intend to drip refill your cartridges, you will have to buy nicotine solution somewhere else because Blu Cigs web site doesn’t sell it.
Once I got the foil seal off and started producing good vapor I noticed that the Blu Cigs flavor is more subtle than other 3-piece electronic cigarette vendors out there, but at least there is some “throat sensation” with the 16mg cartridges.
Overall, I like the foil seal despite the peeling and for this I gave the cartridges an above average rating. I would like to have seen more flavor and higher nicotine levels, but nothing that isn’t overcome by drip refilling with 3rd party nicotine solution.
Atomizer Rating = 4.0
The Blu Cigs electronic cigarette starter kit comes with 2 nice shiny 4-hole atomizers that will give you a medium draw (a little easier than a real cigarette).
Since you get 1 spare atomizer with the Blu Cigs starter kit you don’t have to worry as much if one of the 2 atomizers happens to be dead on arrival or if you burn one out quickly learning how to use your first electronic cigarette.
I wish all 3-piece vendors included a spare atomizer as it makes so much sense.
The Blu Cigs atomizers strike me as being durable with a nice thick “wick” needed to puncture the foil seal and withstand a fair amount of heat.
I think the Blu Cigs atomizers are very good, but they do seem to need primer puffs to get going. Fortunately, they can withstand the heat, but with this mini electronic cigarette the reservoir seems to have a hard time keeping the atomizer saturated with nicotine solution.
Of course if you drip, then just put a small drop of nicotine solution directly on the wick after you top off your cartridge for the best results.
Batteries & Charger Rating = 4.0
The batteries and charging system that comes with Blu Cigs electronic cigarette is an excellent value since it includes 2 lithium batteries a USB charger, wall charger AND the much touted “Blu-Pack” mobile charger and carrying case.
First, the batteries are extremely small in fact the smallest I have seen yet. Fully assembled the Blu Cigs are not even a centimeter bigger than a regular cigarette. Blu Cigs batteries of course have a Blu LED on the tip so they will never be confused with regular cigarettes thus making it easier to smoke in non-smoking areas.
The extremely small battery size does make battery life a little shorter as expected however, I found that a battery lasts almost exactly as long as a stock cartridge so you can expect to change your cartridge and battery at about the same time in most cases.
The Blu Pack doubles as a mobile charger and carrying case and does a good job of making up for short battery life by providing a convenient way to both hold and charge a spare battery no matter where you are.
The Blu Pack also holds and protects the fully assembled electronic cigarette, 5 cartridges and even a spare atomizer if you install the spare atomizer onto one of the cartridges. Since the Blu Pack easily charges 5 batteries before it needs to be recharged itself it is possible to smoke all 5 replacement cartridges with a fully “stocked” and charged Blu Pack.
Can you say cocked, locked and ready to rock!?
But, seriously.. I really liked the Blu Cigs charging system except for 1 thing that actually hurt the rating a lot. Both the USB charger and the Blu Pack mobile charger have charge indicator LEDs, but neither clearly indicate when the battery is fully charged. The directions aren’t much help either. In fact, I am still trying to figure it out.
The Blu Pack has a blue light on the side that is supposed to turn off when the battery is fully charged.
Unfortunately, after 45 minutes of charging time the blue light goes off and then it comes back on for varying lengths of time before going out again.
The blue light comes back on and tends to stay on longer at first and shorter as time goes on while the battery is left screwed in. Eventually the blue light just flashes briefly once and a while if you leave the battery screwed in long enough.
The instructions don’t mention this behavior or how to deal with it. After charging half a dozen batteries or so I tended to just leave the batteries charge for 5-15 minutes after the light went off the first time making charging time 45-60.
The USB charger exhibits similar behavior except that it has a red light that is on while charging then turns blue when the battery is charged. The USB charger also takes about 45-60 minutes to charge a battery.
The instructions do warn you that you MUST unscrew the battery when it is finished charging. If only I knew… The instructions go on to say that if you don’t unscrew the battery it gets discharged as a safety feature.
Finally, you have to use the wall charger to charge the Blu Pack and in that scenario there is a cool looking blue light in one end of the charging cable itself that is blue while charging, but actually stays off when the Blu Pack is fully charged. What a concept.
Anyway, it really isn’t that bad once you get used to it especially if you have someone like me to warn you about it ahead of time. I may check the forums later to see what people say about these “features” there and post an update to this review.
Vapor Production = 3.0
With some tweaking, I was able to achieve copious vapor with the Blu Cigs when doing primer puffs (not inhaling), but the vapor was much more whispy and evaporated very quickly when I fully inhaled.
I still got a little throat sensation with 16mg though making this electronic cigarette an excellent way to “smoke” in stealth in non-smoking areas.
On occasion I was able to achieve good vapor just by using the atomizer puncture and twist to break the foil seal in the cartridge, but I had the best results by peeling the foil off when the vapor production seemed to be lacking.
My suggestion is to experiment a little to see what is best for you. Try the atomizer puncture twist and if that doesn’t work or vapor starts to diminish prematurely, keep a paper clip or something handy to force out the nicotine solution reservoir and remove the foil.
Keep in mind that you can’t continuously take drags on the Blu Cigs as the hard thick atomizer wick has a hard time staying saturated with the nicotine solution.
If the vapor starts tasting “burnt” then take longer breaks in between puffing sessions to give the atomizer a chance to re-saturate. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning your atomizer out prematurely.
Construction / Quality Rating = 4.0
Everything in the black starter kit was glossy black except the USB and wall charger and I believe the white starter kit is the same.
The finish on the batteries is a very durable glossy lacquered black finish. The refill cartridges are also glossy black and seem to match the batteries almost exactly.
The atomizers are high quality shiny stainless steel, and brass plated copper.
Battery, atomizer and cartridge all connect together with a near perfect fit and finish.
My only problems in the construction / quality department for the Blu Cigs is with the Blu-Pack which for the most part is durable, but has a somewhat flimsy thin plastic near the door hinge that I know will break given enough time.
Also, the assembled Blu Cigs electronic cigarette and spare battery rattle around in their slots a little when the Blu Pack door is closed because the fit in these 2 slots is less than perfect.
To keep the spare battery from rattling when it is not charging leave it screwed in just a little and make sure it is not making an electrical connection.
To keep the assembled electronic cigarette from rattling around in its slot, try shoving a small piece of styrofoam in the hole and push it to the bottom of this slot. Be careful you don’t put so much foam in this slot that you can’t close the door because it may be very hard to get out.
Cost Rating = 5.0
Like I said at the beginning of the review the Blu Cigs starter kits and all refill / replacement parts are very economical. Starter kits and refill cartridges also ship free which is great.
Batteries are maybe just a little expensive considering they don’t last long, but they are extremely small and sometimes you pay for small.
Blu Cigs come with both a 1-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee.
You will not find a better value unless you buy another product from an extremely dedicated mom and pop shop or import in enough bulk on your own. Enough said.
Style and Extra Features
I have already covered the Blu-Pack mobile charger extensively which is the main feature about Blu that stands out so I will briefly cover style.
Design and style seems to be an important consideration to Blu Cigs. All the charging elements incorporate the Blu theme by having blue charging indicators. Check out this picture I took one night while charging a battery with the Blu pack.
Talk about style.! This gives Blu Cigs that night club appeal when you blow the vapor towards the Blu Pack light. Between this and the blue light on the tip of the battery and the consistency of the black and white color selections Blu Cigs have a very compelling and cohesive style.
Only very intermittent reports of shipping delays still persist and are the only major customer service complaint I have heard. In a way, Blu Cigs is a victim of their own success. Earlier in 2009 their popularity caused shipping delays as long as 4 weeks, but you would get an e-mail letting you know right after you placed an order.
Blu Cigs also had to e-mail their customers earlier this year recalling all of the Blu Packs because of a dangerous flaw in the design that could cause the batteries within them to explode.
While there were no credible reports of the batteries actually exploding Blu Cigs customer service replaced all Blu Packs affected at no-charge to its customers.
I would say that is to be expected and that this type of customer service is adequate and responsible.
Overall Review Rating = 3.9 (Above Average)