Disclaimer : Opinions .. mine .. no one elses ... nothing to do with this site .. bought product with own money ... etc
I'm going to start by saying I have never owned a mod (except for a couple of awesome tin mods from EthelKing) .. nope I'll start again - I have never owned a VV mod that you have to change the battery in before. As such my experience of other mods to compare this too is limited.
My previous VV experience is with the iTaste (review here) and an ego twist. So these are the mods that this is up against from my perspective.
The Smoktech Zmax comes in a surprisingly small presentation box, with nothing else apart from the instruction leaflet (which while small is quite clear and easy to follow). The box is surprisingly small and almost Apple product like in its styling (and lack of anything other than a simple instruction manual!)
Weight wise the product is quite heavy - not horribly so, but compared to the iTaste and certainly a twist .. you know its in your hand .. however this is quite a nice reassuring weight rather than an uncomfortable one. It doesn't feel too big in your hand either (although the length is obviously considerably increased with a vivi nova on the top!)
The finish on the model I have is Chrome, but seems to stay quite clean, Im not noticing a huge fingerprint issue. The curved glass cover to the display is nice and fits the profile of the product.
The Zmax looks nice, its an attractive piece of gear - maybe not the finish of the Provari but still not something you would be ashamed to be seen with. It DOES (like most other tube mods) look like a dildo - however in this case it would be of the "handbag" variety rather than the "tool box under the bed" variety (this puzzles me - Try this : take a trip into Ann Summers one day with your misses - The sales woman will almost always try to sell her some small bullet shaped item the main sales pitch of which is "This will easily conceal in your handbag, nod nod, wink" …. Do women really do this? WHY? Do they go shopping and while in M&S trying on a frock think "I know .. I've got my handbag .. Ill just knock one out" ………… enquiring minds want to know).
Moving on ….
I got the Zmax with a AW IMR 18650 2000Mah Battery (bought separately) and this fits into the Zmax very snuggly (as an aside my senybor 2000Mah protected does not fit .. you can get it in with a squeeze .. but would need an extension cap on the end though only just).
The display is bright .. really easy to read. Blue rather than red - in a darkened room you can clearly see the glow on your hands .. for some reason I quite like this.
I was a bit worried about the whole one button menu thing, but actually its surprisingly easy .. a few referrals back to the instructions on what each menu item means and you've sussed it .. I find myself flying round the menus now.
Fittings wise its a 510 connector with a built in "well" so it will also happily take ego skirted clearomisers as well as standard 510 items. So far I have tried it with a vivi nova, mini vivi novas, stardust ce3 types and a boge xxl - all of which fit with no problems. The vivis (both sizes) look best .. but I am dying to try this with some nice rebuildable atty such as the penelope or similar but that won't be for several pay cheques time.
On firing up and playing with voltages etc the first thing I noticed was this is fierce .. way more fierce than the iTaste or ego twist, however .. I have no idea if these kind of battery mods normally are more fierce. Its not in fact a problem. I just find I'm vaping at lower voltages on the Zmax to get the same effect as I would on a twist or iTaste. As near as Ive worked out from taste testing 3.2 on this seems about equivalent to 3.9 or 4 on my twist. I do not see this as a problem tho. numbers are just numbers.
Changing voltages is easy (as are accessing all the other functions). and voltage changes are very noticeable, although Ive only had it up into the 4's (this seems to suit my 2.8ohm heads). Heres what I have found works for me with vivi novas - 1.8ohm heads : 3v, 2.4 ohm heads : 3.2 - 3.5v 2.8 ohm heads : 3.9 to 4.3v. I may try to get hold of some higher resistance heads to try the higher voltages.
The variable wattage is excellent. it DOES work, although it has a limitation in my mind in that some juices taste better at different ranges. As an example I find HOL El Toro Puros gets a burnt taste at slightly lower voltages than other liquids I use. I tested this i had 3 different vivis set up (1.8, 2.4 and 2.8) and also another vivi at 2.8 with Puros in it. swapping between the the first three was Perfect. using the Puros .. It was a bit burnt and rough - however by habit I would normally vape Puros on a lower voltage anyway. So it works … depending on your juices .. IMO
Im finding the atty ohms reader invaluable when I'm rewicking the novas - I do not know how accurate it is .. but its certainly consistent.
Vapour production - I get LOADS of vapour from this .. more than anything else I've got. (possibly down to being more "fierce" than my other gear?) and the flavour and throat hit are great - though I personally think flavour and throat hit are more down to what delivery system and juice you are using rather than the battery.
All in all I'm very pleased with the Zmax it lies I guess somewhere between a lava tube and a Provari (from the brief try Ive had of both) and it suits me fine.
Now I think I'm going to take it to Ann-Summers and see if one of the girls in there can tell what they would do with it in a locked changing room on their own. One can only hope the answer is vape!