Back in 2015 I tried out - and reviewed- a new device called the Innokin Coolfire IV.
A sturdy device with a brushed steel finish, it proved to be super reliable - and to be one of the few vape devices that really withstood the test of time.
I actually last bought a Coolfire IV a few weeks ago, when my mother lost her ancient pink iStick and wanted a simple-to-use device to replace it.
While the Coolfire IV is still available, it’s been through many iterations since then. Some of the more notable included the Coolfire IV TC100 and the Innokin Coolfire Ultra. But the new Coolfire Z80 kit and mod is the most advanced yet.
For this review, I’ve been using the Coolfire Z80 kit, which comes bundled with the Innokin Zenith II tank. The Zenith II is a great tank, but the focus of this review is on the Coolfire Z80.
- A little about Innokin
- Clever but easy to use
- FO Mode
- Refresh mode
- Screen and menu
- What we don’t like
- Bringing it all together
A little about Innokin
Before we start, it’s worth mentioning that Innokin get a big thumbs up from me in several areas. Innokin has always made quality products, and often broken new ground with vape technology, but they have gone above and beyond in other areas too.
They’re the first vape company I have seen to make a commitment to using 100% recyclable packaging. And when they introduced filter tips for vapes (see our write up of the EQ FLTR), they made them biodegradable.
They’ve also been active with vape advocacy - and not just by tweeting out posts, but also funding an information campaign in London.
Now, on to the device...
Clever but easy to use
I’ve seen many devices which have cutting edge technology, and many which are easy to use. But companies take it to the next level when they combine ease of use with clever technology.
Innokin achieves this with the Coolfire Z80. Click 5 times to turn it on, then use the up/ down buttons to adjust the wattage. If you’re a Mouth-to-Lung vaper, you’ll never have to do anything else. But hold the up and down buttons together and you’ll enter an intuitive menu that gives you plenty of control over the device. That includes:
We first wrote about FO mode when Innokin launched the Sensis. The technology is still under-wraps to some extent, probably because Innokin doesn’t want other companies copying them.
We do know that the device uses thermodynamic heating to create improved flavour.
Unlike the Sensis, which required you to unlock FO mode, the Coolfire Z80 comes with FO mode automatically enabled. In fact, you can hear a slight humming when you use it. Switch to power mode and the humming disappears.
When switching between FO and power mode, there’s a noticeable improvement in flavour in FO mode. You can also adjust the frequency of FO mode (measured in Hertz or HZ). Innokin recommends using between 51-100 for Mouth-to-Lung vaping and 20-50 for Direct-Lung vaping.
To get a feel for it, I tried using at the extremes when Direct-Lung vaping. As you go down the Hertz, the sound the vape makes changes, becoming a stronger deeper humming. There’s also a difference in the vape. With the 0.3Ω Z coil, 35 watts and 100 HZ, the vapour is thinner, wispier and less satisfying. Change it to 20 HZ and the vapour is thicker, the clouds are larger and you get a richer taste.
This is going to be a great tool for vapers who like to fine tune their vape to just the way they like it.
The Innokin Sensis came with auto-refresh mode, which automatically primed your coil between uses. The Z80 doesn’t come with auto-refresh, but you can manually refresh your coil. You enter the menu (hold down up and down buttons together), click down to go to refresh and select run 1 auto.
The Z80 will then automatically refresh the coil by drawing in power at 50% of regular usage. This draws e-liquid into and saturates the coil, helping to refresh the taste and ensure the coil lasts longer.
You can also choose to manually refresh the coil, which means you choose how long you want the priming to last for. For most vapers,, the auto-run will be sufficient, but advanced vapers may prefer to use the manual priming option.
Do note - when you use the priming mode, if your tank is not full, don’t tip it to one side - you want the coil to be fully exposed to e-liquid.
Screen and menu
The Z80 comes with a crisp clear screen. The most important information - the wattage - is displayed in large numbers. Other information - puff count, resistance, puff length and hertz - is easy to see, even though the text is small.
I really like the screen options. You can choose between pro - which displays all information - and minimalist, which cuts out a lot of the information. The screen also displays the frequency in waves as you vape, but you can’t actually see this when you vape.
You can also adjust screen timeout time, which is really handy when you are testing the device out! The menu allows you to adjust puff cut off time from 3-18 seconds too. I can’t imagine puffing for 18 seconds, but I am sure there are vapers out there who will want to!
The Z50 is a modest-sized mod about the size of my average-sized palms. The black Z50 I had to trial came with a leather effect which, when squeezed, had a little bit of give in it for comfort. A gold sheen around the fire button was also a nice attention to detail.
The Z80 kit is not going to be a cloud machine (when using it with the included Zenith 2 tank). For a start, the compatible Z coils only go down to 0.3Ω and it doesn’t have the huge airflow vents that specialist tanks have. Even when pushing the 0.3Ω Zenith coil to the limits, the inhale is more restricted DL than DL. However, what it does produce, when used with FO mode, is excellent taste.
It’s also very neat that FO mode works with other tanks and coils, and with a wattage range of 1-80, you could certainly use the mod with other tanks to get a decent Direct-Lung inhale.
One tip - if you are using the kit to switch between vaping styles, don’t forget to switch the included drip tips. The longer, narrow-bore drip tip is better for MTL, while the wide bore tip is better for restricted Direct-Lung.
What we don’t like
My biggest bugbear with this device is that to charge it, I had to use the included USB-C charger. Charging it with my standard USB-C cable didn’t work. It seems like it’s one of a number of vape devices that will only work with A to C cables, not C to C.
I really liked the auto-refresh mode with the Innokin Sensis. I’d like to see this on the Z80 instead of having to go through and select it manually. Still, seeing as no other manufacturer even provides refresh mode, let alone auto-refresh mode, that does seem a bit nitpicky!
Bringing it all together
It’s interesting writing my first review soon after our anatomy of a perfect vape post.
Some new devices are so focused on all the latest tech features that they forget the basics. But Innokin gets a lot of the little details right.
The tank is clear, the device is easy to use, it comes with a locking top fill (with a filter to stop spillage) and the charging port is located on the side, not the bottom. It’s irritating that you can’t use all USB-C chargers with the device, but Innokin gets so much else right that you can forgive that.
But Innokin also includes two great pieces of technology within this device - Refresh mode and FO mode. Both improve the experience of vaping. I wouldn’t recommend the kit to a cloud vaper or a serious Direct-Lung vaper, but for vapers who like control over their vape and a great taste, this is hard to beat.