There might just be no vaporizer as iconic as the OG Storz & Bickel Volcano. After all, it’s the device that started everything in 2000. More than two decades on, the Volcano is still one of the most sought-after desktop vapes on the market.
The Volcano has since been upgraded and is now available as the Volcano Hybrid (review | buy) which features a touch-sensitive interface, LED display, and full customization via a smartphone app. The Hybrid gets its name from S&B’s patented hybrid heating and the option to use either the balloon and a whip.
While the Volcano definitely was the first, they soon weren’t the only ones. Canadian brand Arizer had released their first device in 2007 and made a name for themselves as makers of affordable desktop vaporizers, and later on – reliable portable dry herb vaporizers. Now, Arizer has gone back to its roots and released a new desktop device – the Arizer XQ2 (review | buy).
The Arizer XQ2 is also an updated version of a prior device - the Extreme Q (review | buy). The XQ2 was created to be the culmination of the brand’s 15 years of design and development experience - and it shows. Arizer devices have a similar set of cornerstone features: precise temperature control, clear OLED screens, and long, borosilicate mouthpieces that keep the vapor cool (which is the Arizer Signature) - the XQ2 has all these and more in the way of functionality.
Why’s it Worth Comparing?
Both brands are institutions in the vaporizer industry and both have excellent track records - specifically in the desktop niche. It’s also just impossible not to put these two flagship devices side by side. While there might be a lot about them that’s different, there are also an equal amount of similarities. Most notably, being able to use both the balloon and whip, and having fully stocked and decked device kits.
It’s worth saying early on that the Volcano is definitely a winner when it comes to power - but the XQ2 becomes a worthy contender especially when you consider that the XQ2 delivers the efficiency and functionality of a desktop device - at half the price.
Kit and Accessories
Both devices come with a lot - which is quite expected for desktop devices. The Volcano comes with roughly 13 pieces, while the XQ2 comes with 18 pieces.
However, the way these two brands have approached their kits is what makes the difference. The Arizer XQ2’s 18-piece device kit might seem overwhelming at first, but you don’t exactly have to use all these pieces. All these parts are for the many possible functions of the XQ2 and it definitely means you won’t ever have to purchase anything else for it. Everything you need to use the XQ2 is already included.
The Volcano Hybrid on the other hand also has a full kit - but there is also a full suite of optional accessories and more spares available exclusively for the Volcano on the Storz & Bickel website.
At the top of my recommendations list for the Volcano Hybrid are the:
- Dosing Capsules (visit store): Smaller capsules that may be pre-filled with herb and easily popped in and out of the oven while you’re on the go.
- Dosing Capsule Adapter: This makes it possible to insert the capsules into the chamber. This is great for when you don’t want to fill the Volcano’s significantly sized oven.
Device Design and Features
Both devices share a similar look - they’re both conical devices with solid bases. However, one of the most surprising things is that the Arizer XQ2 is extremely light. Without the pieces attached – the Multi-purpose heater weighs about 450g – which is pretty great if you’re looking to take it out to a party or something. This is greatly due to the fact that the XQ2’ entire outer shell is made of plastic.
The main body of the XQ2 has a shiny finish, while the base is matte and houses the digital display and the 5 buttons for power, settings, temperature controls, and a dedicated button for the 3-speed fan. Circling the base is the LED strip which lights up to indicate the current device status or the mode you’re in. You can also set it to Spectrum Mode – which changes the colors every couple of seconds.
While the Volcano Hybrid on the other hand is strictly stay-at-home. It retains the iconic design of the previous volcano models, which is essentially the shape of a volcano. And is sturdy, weighty, solid unit with a tough stainless steel exterior.
Plastic vs. Glass
As mentioned earlier, having several glass pieces is an Arizer Signature. Glass is a neutral material that keeps vapor pure - and this contributes highly to the results on any Arizer device. However, glass is definitely fragile (I even broke a piece before I got to use it.) and conducts heat - meaning you’ll have to be a bit more cautious and have to wait for the piece to cool down between sessions.
This is where the Volcano Hybrid has an upper hand. Most of its pieces are made of plastic or have a plastic outer shell. While plastic does get warm - it’s far from uncomfortable. It also isn’t too fragile so you won’t have to worry too much.
Storz & Bickel is currently the only company worldwide to produce certified medical herbal vaporizers – and the Volcano was the first-ever vaporizer to be certified. It’s also used in research labs around the world. Vaporizing with the Volcano guarantees a perfectly clean experience with zero contaminants due to combustion.
Like most Arizer devices, the XQ2 comes with a pack of dried herbs that work with an included aromatherapy bowl. It’s a pretty cool added lifestyle feature that’s unique to the XQ2.
Instead of using an essential oil diffuser. Try raw dried sage, chamomile, or even citrus peels, place it into the bowl, turn the temperature, set the fan on low, and let the scent spread throughout the room.
Ease of Use & Interface
Any desktop vaporizer can seem intimidating - and it definitely can be during your first try. There simply just is a lot to consider, so I highly recommend running through the manual beforehand. Other than having to decide between using the balloon or the whip, there’s also the fan and other customizations each device allows.
The Volcano Hybrid’s interface is flat across the front of the device. Everything from the screen, to the text and size of the buttons, are pretty large and easily located. though the buttons aren’t tactile they do make a pretty audible “click” as you press them. While using onboard controls is enough to get great results from the Hybrid, you’ll need to connect your device to the app for the full set of features.
(The app works just fine with an android device. Apple has banned all vaping-related apps on their app store. If you have an iPhone, you can use the web app. although, the app doesn’t work with Chrome or Safari. Meaning you’ll have to download a separate browser.)
The remote control is definitely an underrated feature of the XQ2. Especially when using the XQ2 for aromatherapy. The remote is programmable with dedicated buttons for 3 pre-set, yet customizable temperatures.
The remote itself has an easy-to-use and understand the layout and allows you to turn the XQ2 on/off, set your desired temperature, choose a color for the LED strip, and turn on the fan. With the onboard controls, you’ll have to press the buttons repeatedly to run through the settings – but with the remote, it’s all just a much faster more streamlined experience.
Performance & Vapor Quality
The Volcano Hybrid gets its name from the hybrid heating method invented by S&B. Hybrid heating is the combination of both convection and conduction heating. While many devices have since followed suit - S&B’s perfect blend of conduction and convection heating produces vapor that is simply unmatched.
Simply put, the Volcano Hybrid delivers excellent results. Obviously, it’s a much larger device, with more power available to it – making it fully capable of providing you with more. Whatever workflow, iteration, or whether you use the balloon or the whip – expect to get great and consistent results.
The XQ2 on the other hand has a convection ceramic heater alongside all the neutral borosilicate glass pieces - and delivers particularly well-flavored vapor. In fact, when using the whip attachment at a low temperature- you’ll find that your draws will be quite light, yet you’ll still be able to taste every nuance in your material and fully savor it. The XQ2, of course, is also capable of creating big dense results, which are still just as pure – yet trade off a bit of that flavor for more vapor.
XQ2 Connoisseur bowl
The Glass Connoisseur Bowl is an upgrade from the bowl on the Extreme Q, and instead of having a glass screen directly at the center of the bowl, it sits closer on one end. Creating two bowl size options:
- Cloud Chamber - It’s the larger “party” bowl. It holds a pretty significant amount of material and is great for group sessions.
- Flavor Chamber - This is the smaller side, and is just about the perfect size if you’re microdosing or having a solo session.
Other than just size - they do deliver fairly different results. With the cloud chamber, the herb sits much closer to the heater - which results in thicker vapor, and with the flavor chamber in use, the herb is a lot further up - so results aren’t as dense.
The XQ2 has a temperature range of 122-500°F (50-260°C) heats fast at 10-20 seconds, but it’s not exactly ready right away. It’s highly recommended that you “prime”. Which is basically letting your material sit and heat up on the bowl for about 3-5 minutes after the XQ2 hits its temp. It’s not mandatory, but without it, you’ll find yourself having to do several draws to warm up the material and see any extraction.
The Volcano Hybrid reaches anywhere in its 338-372°F (170-188°C) temperature range in about 45 seconds. No priming is necessary, and definitely only place the heating chamber in only when you’re ready for your session. Once the Volcano is ready to go - it’s ready to go.
The Volcano Hybrid is a powerhouse - no doubt about it. It delivers nothing but the cleanest and best vaporizer experience on the market – but it does come at the cost of $699. And obviously, its medical certification makes it the most highly recommended device for medical marijuana users.Although, if your needs fall more on the recreational side of things, the XQ2 delivers on the desktop experience at half the price. It boasts great functionality, performs well, and is more suited for fun, at-home sessions. If you’re looking for the best in dry herb vaping this year- definitely check out our list of the best of 2022.