Review: The PAX Era Pro
Until Apple relents, this promising vaporizer’s functionality is sorely limited
The problem with designing a cannabis vaporizer that relies on an app to do most of its magic is that sometimes that app gets removed in an ill-advised and rash response to an alleged health epidemic. In this case, the app in question belongs to San Francisco vaporizer manufacturer PAX. The reason it no longer exists on Apple’s App Store stems from the rash of vape-related illnesses that made headlines throughout much of 2019.
In response to public outcry over reports that linked vaping to an acute pulmonary condition now referred to as VAPI (Vaping Associated Pulmonary Illness), Apple removed 181 vaping-related apps from its online store in November. Though we now know that counterfeit cannabis vape cartridges—some tainted with the THC additive vitamin E acetate—were largely the culprit, plenty of legitimate cannabis vaporizer companies and their customers have also paid a price from Apple’s app ban.
Such is the scenario that greets the release of the PAX Era Pro.
This second-generation update on the popular PAX Era retains the former’s basic structure as a thin, sleek bar-shaped vaporizer that relies on disposable, proprietary pods that can be purchased and prefilled with oil from a number of manufacturers. It’s important to note that these pods or cartridges differ from 510 thread cartridges, the more “generic” version that screws onto any vape battery (and the type that is associated with VAPI cases).
Instead, the PAX Era only works with pods manufactured for the unit, distinguishable by a red band around the middle. That’s especially important in light of what is almost assuredly the most compelling feature of the new Era Pro: NFC-enabled pods.
High-quality testing has always been a key component of PAX’s pitch, but the Era Pro takes it to the next level by allowing users to instantly see details about each specific pod’s brand, strain, cannabinoid percentages, likely effects and suggested temperature as soon as they pop it in. Users can even read state-regulated testing results—a major move forward in the movement to bring transparency to cannabis.
This is thanks to NFC technology, which PAX started incorporating into its pods in January. When concerns over the quality of vaporizer oil has never been higher, a device that can instantly provide vital information on the cannabis you’re about to smoke should be welcome news.
The problem, as you may have guessed, is that all this important safety information is only currently accessible to those with an Android device.
So PAX says its at work on a web app as an interim solution for iPhone users while negotiations with Apple continue. In a statement to SN&R, PAX’s senior vice president of product, Jesse Silver, said the company was “disappointed by Apple’s decision to ban all vaporization apps, including the PAX Mobile App, as it prevents consumers in legal states from accessing important information and further controlling their cannabis experiences.”
While, it’s impossible to fairly judge the Era Pro until some kind of solution, there are still several notable improvements to the PAX Era Pro that require no Bluetooth pairing to enjoy. One is enhanced LED lighting, which takes a bit of guesswork out of trying to tell if there’s oil left in your pod. Also, there are new laser-cut intake vents along the unit’s side, allowing for increased airflow. There’s also an upgrade in ports from microUSB to the more modern USB-C, which means users don’t have to lug one outdated cable around just to keep the Era Pro charged.
When and if the app is made available to Apple customers, there are more features.
For one, the PAX Era Pro can remember the temperature you like for a specific pod, allowing you to set it and forget it. Another enticing feature is the unit’s dosing control, which goes beyond the arbitrary measurements of the original model (micro, small, medium and large) to a set number of doses.
Honestly, there aren’t many bones to pick with this device, which delivers on its promise to enhance a vaporizer that was already considered by many standards to be cutting-edge.
The largest caveat—aside from the Apple app issue—is PAX Era Pro’s price tag. At a retail price of $69.99, it is more than double the current cost of its predecessor ($29.99).
So waiting until the app is available isn’t a knock against the Era Pro, but rather a testament to the durability of the original.
If your Era is working and you don’t have an Android phone, shelling out $70 for LED lights and bigger hits is a tough sell. But the moment the PAX app returns to the Apple store, the cost shouldn’t keep you from giving the Era Pro a try.