Published on February 26th, 2013 | by Trick8
The Natural by Smoktech
Summary: A solid mod for the price, but performance leaves quite a bit to be desired.
SmokTech’s latest mechanical mod, The Natural, comes at a time when interest in mechanical mods seems to be at an all-time high. Stories of massive wattage and sub-1-ohm coils, and possibly a slight nudge in the form of a Phil Busardo epiphany, seem to have buyers shifting their attention away from variable wattage/voltage devices, and back to the good old battery tubes. The release of the Natural seems to coincide well with this new demand for mechanical mods, but is it a good buy?
Our first impression upon receiving the Natural was that it seems fairly solidly-built, with a heavy, solid top cap with a 510 connector. This is the first place it becomes obvious that SmokTech has learned from prior mistakes with their earlier mechanical, the Telescope. Unlike the first version of the Telescope, the top cap of the Natural screws on, so it won’t go flying off if when you put a battery in it, a common complaint with early Telescopes. The threading is also quite smooth, not just on the top cap, but also on the bottom cap and the extension tubes (the Natural comes with tubes to fit an 18650 and an 18350, with additional tubes available for an 18500). It’s not quite as smooth as a good high-end mod, and feels just slightly grainy, but for a mass-produced Chinese mod, it’s probably better than most. The brushed stainless finish is also not bad, but quite inconsistent between parts.
One potential source of problems down the road, though, may be the switch (which, as many may recall, was a weak spot on the Telescope, as well). It consists of a center pole that isn’t much more than a large-headed screw, the brass head of which acts as a negative contact, and the button itself. Both ends of the center pole are held in place by plastic, and the small grommet built into the end cap seems particularly likely to be a trouble spot after a lot of use. The button itself as large, with a short throw, and is quite comfortable to use, even for long periods. It also has a locking ring which can be unscrewed to prevent misfiring in a pocket or purse. We have not noticed the Natural ever failing to fire when the button is pressed, though, as with nearly all mechanicals, we presume it will need to be cleaned occasionally to maintain conductivity.
Unfortunately, our opinion of the Natural starts to fall sharply as we examine the top cap. Unlike the center post on the negative end, the positive post appears to be stainless steel. That’s probably not a big deal for a low-end mechanical, but it’s disappointing after finding brass at the other end, but at least the positive pin is adjustable to alow most atomizers to sit flush with the mod.
Where the cap, and its 510 connector, start to really fall down is on the threading of the 510 connector. Previous owners of the Telescope may have found the same thing we did with its 510 connector: the threading was not quite standard, and it could be difficult getting many atomizers screwed onto it. We found the exact same problem with the Natural. While many atomizers screw on with no problems (for example, we had no issues with an AGA-T or Terminator), others (such as our Penelope and Cobra atomizers) would be difficult or impossible to screw all the way down.
So, how does it rate?
Build Quality: 3
For a low-end mechanical mod, it’s not bad. It feels solid and sturdy in the hand. However, problems with the 510 connector threading and potential weaknesses in the switch knock the Natural down a few notches.
The GG-like styling,and brushed finish give the Natural a nice, clean look. It manages to borrow styling queues from GG mods while diverging enough with its extra-large button, dimpled cap, and salt-shaker bottom cap to avoid looking like a cheap, blatant rip off of the GGTS (or the GGTB, which it resembles somewhat more closely). More consistent finish between parts, however, would have increased this score.
The inclusion of tubes for 18650 and 18350 batteries, and the availability of 18500 tubes for about $10, make this a very flexible mod, though battery sizes obviously cannot be swapped on the fly unless you carry multiple tubes. The solid stainless steel construction also allows the use of a Kick, if desired.
In under-load voltage testing, the Natural performed quite poorly, with a voltage retention rating of approximately 89%, or about .35 volts dropped from a fully-charged battery.
At around $55-$70 retail, the SmokTech Natural seems quite reasonably priced for a mod of its quality.
Overall Score: 3.1