It’s been said before, but the vaporizer market is an incredibly dynamic space- there seems to be a new device released at every turn. While some brands tend to diversify their approach and make several product lines that cater to a wide array of uses and users. There are also a select number of brands that prefer to release only a few products and opt to re-release them with new and improved functional features.
Arizer and Pax Labs are great representatives of the latter- Pax Labs’ flagship product the Pax 3 (review | buy) and Arizer’s Solo 2 (review | buy) were both originally released in 2012 and 2011 and were both updated in 2017. Despite the lengthy amount of time that has passed- both devices are still praised for their durability, build and vapor quality. They’re also both mainstays on our best dry herb vaporizers list.
The Pax 3 represents compact vaping at its best. This vaporizer is extremely portable and delivers well on its promise of a “premium vaping experience”. Its single-button interface and advanced features have given it the moniker “the iPhone of vaporizers”. With its haptic feedback, a lip sensor, and accompanying smartphone application - it’s not hard to see why.
The Arizer Solo 2 sports several Arizer signature features such as a high-quality borosilicate glass mouthpiece and a wide temperature range that can be controlled and viewed on the built-in OLED screen. Though the glass mouthpiece limits its portability, the lengthy vapor path and neutral material aids in making vapor the purest and most flavorful it can be.
Compatibility: The Solo 2 and Pax 3 are both compatible with dry Cannabis herb. I tested these devices with both CBD herb from InHemp (visit store) and THC herb from my local dispensary.
Kit and accessories
Both devices have basic kits and several optional accessories - all of which allow you to really be the master of your sessions.
Pax 3 is available in either of two kits, a “device only” kit and a “complete kit”. The device-only kit contains just the base level of accessories, but it’s definitely all you need to use your device. The complete kit includes a concentrate insert (to use with extracts), a multi-tool, 3 replacement screens, and a half-oven lid.
When installed, the half oven lid reduces the amount of herb you can pack from 0.35 g to roughly 0.15-0.20 g. You can’t exactly split an oven into multiple sessions on most vaporizers (the Pax 3 included). Once you start vaping, the herb in the oven is no longer reusable. So, this lid is incredibly useful for when you’re looking to take only a few hits as opposed to a full session.
The Solo 2 kit includes your basic needs- a wall charger, carrying case, filter screens, and the like. But on top of that, the kit also contains a 90 mm glass tube, 110 mm glass tube, and a glass aroma dish for using aromatherapy herbs, as well as a sample pack of lavender botanical aromatics.
Design & Features
These two devices share a similar columnar body, but that’s where their design similarities end. The Solo 2’s design places functionality first, while the Pax 3 is more flashy yet surprisingly discreet.
Solo 2: Other than the tall mouthpiece, the next thing that’ll catch your eye is the circular menu pad that is very responsive and an OLED screen above it that displays vital information like the temperature setting and battery level. The device’s finish and feel are sturdy and solid- reassuring you of its durability. It’s made with stainless steel and while that material has a knack for becoming hot - the Solo 2 remains comfortably warm even after successive sessions.
Pax 3: On the contrary, the Pax 3 is handsomely designed and commands just enough attention to catch your eye, yet gives no clue as to what it is - which is a great thing if you’re taking it out in public. The first thing anyone will notice is Pax’s shiny or matte exterior and the signature LED lights on the front. The LED indicators light up in various configurations to indicate device temperature, battery life, and whether the device is switched on. While Pax Labs hasn’t changed the design since the original Pax - they have made the device smaller at each release, making it more portable than it already was. Though compact, it’s far from fragile. The anodized aluminum shell is definitely strong and feels slightly dense to the touch.
Both the Arizer Solo and Pax 3 have 3500mAH built-in batteries - but the Solo 2’s battery definitely outperforms the Pax 3’s.
But the use time on the Pax 3 is only half that of the Solo 2 - on the Solo, the battery lasts for about 3 hours or about a day or two of average vaping. The Pax’s use time clocks in at roughly 90 minutes and this half-life is due to the fact that conduction ovens are less power efficient than hybrids.
The battery life obviously depends on the temperatures you choose. Charging the Solo 2 takes only 90minutes. It also features pass-through charging, so you can still enjoy a session while it’s plugged in.
The Solo 2 and the Pax 3 come with mouthpiece options- while both mouthpieces come included in the Pax 3 basic kit, the Solo 2 glass mouthpieces are sold separately on the Arizer website.
- The built-in flat mouthpiece sits discreetly at the top of the device and keeps the sleek columnar shape of the Pax 3. It feels slightly awkward and takes some getting used to, and since your lip touches the side of the device- it does get a little warm.
- The raised mouthpiece feels a lot more natural to use since your lips only come in contact with the silicone mouthpiece. The only downside is the fact that it distracts from the clean lines of the device’s overall design.
Arizer’s accessory line-up for all their products is extensive, and it’s no different with the Solo 2. While there are a lot available- the most notable ones are the:
- Curved Mouthpiece – this allows you to use the device without having to hold it directly under your lip, and in my opinion- it’s also the best mouthpiece to use the device with,
- Tipped Aroma Tube – This mouthpiece has a tapered opening that slightly limits the amount of vapor you inhale, making it easier and more natural to use.
- Frosted Glass Tube – (available in 14mm and 19mm) this allows you to attach the Solo 2 to a water pipe. I tested this accessory with my rig from Higher Standards.
While each device does come with several mouthpiece options, the Solo 2’s mouthpieces are simply better. They’re made with a neutral materal, help cool down the vapor, and make loading and cleaning much easier.
Ease of Use
Both devices are relatively easy to use and don’t exactly require a lot of figuring out to be able to get the best out of them. They do, however, differ in the way they go about their functionality.
The Solo 2’s onboard OLED display and circular control panel make the device usable straight out of the box- making it the clear winner in this department. Simply hold the menu button and the “up” button to turn it on and press the up-down buttons to increase the temperature in 1° increments or hold either button down to increase or decrease the temperature by 10°.
While all this is well and easy, it is loading the Solo 2 that takes the cake. All that has to be done is to place the bottom end of the glass mouthpiece onto the herb and twist it in to load. For easier loading, I highly recommend having a great grinder like the SLX (review | buy) that grinds your herb to a fluffy consistency that can easily be collected by the glass stem.
The Pax 3 on the other hand uses technology to its advantage. Since it doesn’t exactly have a traditional button interface, the Pax 3’s temperature settings and dynamic modes are fully controllable by the accompanying smartphone app.
- Standard Mode – increases oven temperature when your lips are detected on the mouthpiece and auto-cools when the device hasn’t been used for 20 seconds.
- Boost Mode – the temperature rises quickly and comes down just as fast, this is for quick and easy sessions
- Flavor Mode – heats and cools down quickly to maximize flavor and produce more vapor on demand
- Stealth Mode- made for low-profile vaping and speeds up cool-down time. This mode also dims the LED petals and puts the PAX 3 into standby mode within 15 seconds of non-use
- Efficiency Mode – the oven temperature increases by 1° every two seconds. Great for saving battery life
Note: Apple has currently banned all vaping-related applications on the App Store. If you’re an iPhone user and want to use the Pax App, please see this full set of instructions on connecting your Pax 3 to the Pax web application.
Portability and stealth
If you’re looking for a vaporizer that’s incredibly stealthy and discreet, then the Pax is definitely the one to get. It’s perfectly concealable in your hand and is pretty easily mistaken for some new-age tech toy, rather than a vaporizer. The Solo 2 is larger and since the glass mouthpiece -other than being fragile, protrudes outward - it’s better suited for at-home use.
Performance & Vapor Quality
The Pax 3 is more than capable of delivering good quality vapor, and it performs much better than expected- especially for its small size. The oven heats to temperature in roughly 15-20 seconds and I found that the best vapor comes out a little after the 30- second mark. Deeper into the session, however, the device’s small size becomes a disadvantage and the Pax 3 becomes too warm to hold. The vapor is smooth, weighty, and flavorful- but only for the first 2-3 hits. After that, the vapor quality dwindles more towards the average end with more warmth and less flavor.
In contrast, the Solo 2’s glass stems do a fantastic job at keeping the vapor cool, pure, and flavorful throughout your session. This is on top of the fact that hybrid heating results in much better vapor quality, especially when compared to the standard conduction oven. The Solo 2 heats up in roughly 30-60 seconds, depending on which setting you choose. Keep in mind that the Solo 2’s vapor on the higher settings is more dense and visible (when compared to most vapes) and is more flavorful at lower temperatures.
The Solo 2 and Pax 3 are both highly rated vaporizers that have remained very popular, even years after their respective releases- and for good reason. Both devices produce good quality vapor and have features that set them apart.
The Pax 3 is definitely the more high-tech of the two, with its smartphone app and sensors that are built into the device. It’s also one of the most portable devices on the market today- and a few of its features lend themselves well to discretion. This is definitely the device for anyone who prefers to take their vapes out and have sporadic sessions throughout the day, as opposed to successive use at home.
On its own, the Solo 2 is portable- but the glass mouthpiece is quite limiting. Despite this, the glass mouthpiece lends itself well to vapor quality and makes the Solo 2 much easier to load. The included carrying case definitely helps, but it only does so much. I would highly recommend the Solo 2 for its ease of use and vapor quality- but more so as an at-home device. If you’re looking for a device that does just as well but is more portable- the Arizer Go (review | buy) is definitely worth checking out.
The clear better choice is definitely the Solo 2, unless portability is your highest priority. The device remains cool despite successive use and the vapor quality is better due to the neutral glass mouthpiece.