DaVinci understands the concept of value.
The Ascent by DaVinci is a long-awaited contender in the high-end portable vaporizer market. With delays stemming from reinforcing the seal around the vapor path as well as adding a clasp which prevents the chamber from being forced open in the wrong direction, we’re now officially on the final stretch. For weeks now previews and reviews have popped up around the vaporizer community, I’m happy to say that our review of the vaporizer will feature the added vapor path seal and clasp on the side.
Look and Feel
The Ascent by DaVinci is very slick-looking portable vaporizer which comes in three color varieties shown below.
The Stealth style Ascent Vaporizer has the same soft touch rubberized plastic in the center as the DaVinci Vaporizer uses for the entire body. The sides are a black aluminum, I suspect the finish is anodized.
Looking into the “mouth” of the vaporizer, the entire top of the vaporizer is a black rubber. With the display screen of the Ascent facing towards you, the power button on the right side of the rubber. In the center is the glass mouthpieces with the stirring tool (referred to as a “poker tool” in the preview video) directly above it.
Looking down the front, you’ll find a rubber “+” button, the display screen, a rubber settings button, and lastly a rubber “-” button.
The bottom of the Ascent is a silver metallic grill with a charging port on the left side (with the Ascent display screen facing up). The right side houses a similar unused opening and I have confused which side has the charging port on more than one occasion because I wasn’t paying attention.
There is no wiggle to the hinge, no looseness that I have felt with other hinges on various gadgets in the past.
The first thing I noticed about the Ascent when I took it out of the box was the weight. While the vaporizer isn’t heavy per se, it has a substantial weight for its size and class of vaporizer. This means that you’ll never forget you have it in your pocket or in your hand. Most of the weight is in the bottom “swing-out” part of the Ascent which is where the glass lined ceramic chamber and heating element are located. At no point do I feel like the weight makes the swing-out part of the Ascent loose or free-swinging.
There are multiple components in place to make sure that the swing-out and swing-in of the bottom chamber is a solid maneuver with a hearty click. There is a small ball & cup on the edge of the swing-out with the ball being on the top and the “groove cup” being on the bottom to make sure the chamber doesn’t open accidentally. There is also the new clasp on the side to make sure the chamber isn’t “over closed” which would cause damage to the hinge mechanism. The hinge mechanism, which I haven’t seen directly, feels extremely solid. There is no wiggle to the hinge, no looseness that I have felt with other hinges on various gadgets in the past.
Using the Ascent is a pleasure. DaVinci has managed to make a product that has the simplicity of one button operation, but can also be configured to step up the vaporizing temperature at pre-set time intervals. At first I discounted this temperature “stepping” option as a useless gimmick, but after sitting down and setting up the temperature and time intervals, this is by far one of the niftiest features I’ve used on a vaporizer to date.
When I say the Ascent features one button operation, it really is one button press from off to vaporizing. The power button located in the recessed “mouth” of the Ascent turns the vaporizer on, it then begins heating up to its previously set temperature. You can choose to change the temperature by using the “+” and “-” buttons on the vaporizer. If you choose to explore the settings you’ll find that you can adjust the auto shutoff timeout, how long it takes for the Ascent to turn off if you put it down and don’t touch it for a period of time.
You can also set up and adjust the temperature “stepping” temperatures and time-frames within the settings as well as enable the feature. The way it works is that you are given three temperatures and three time-frames. You can set each one as you please and they will always cycle sequentially.What this means is that you can choose to have your temperature start at 380 (my preferred start temperature) and then step up to 390 after three minutes followed by stepping up to 400 after two minutes and then run on 400 for five minutes before shutting itself down. The times and temperatures are all user controlled so that you can step up or down in temperature or time. Once the cycle runs through, the Ascent heating element turns off and the vaporizer begins to cool down, once cool enough it shuts itself off.
When drawing from the Ascent you have two options. You can choose to use the stem or the rim around the top of the vaporizer. Either method works well and I periodically switch between the two. The resistance in the draw varies depending on which method you use, which leads me to believe that the stem might let a bit of air in around the seam, but I could be mistaken.
That being said, be careful handling the stems outside of the Ascent.
The stem is only anchored in the Ascent by the rubber it sits in, I have no concerns about the stem popping out on its own because the fit is snug. Inside the stem is the glass screen piece which has its own stem built into it. While seated inside the unit I have no concerns about either glass piece breaking, they’re both very securely held in place.
That being said, be careful handling the stems outside of the Ascent. While photographing my stems, I pushed them together with a small bit of force (just to see how snug the fit was) and cracked my mouthpiece stem.
DaVinci understands the concept of value. This isn’t something that generally jumps out to many people who feel like they’re paying for the vaporizer only. In the box you get:
- Ascent Vaporizer
- Ascent by DaVinci labeled carrying pouch
- 2x Stirring tool (one in the Ascent and one in the box)
- 2x Optional mouthpiece dust cap
- 2x Oil canisters for concentrates
- 2x Stems and two glass screen stems (one in the Ascent and one in the box)
Not many other vaporizers offer you extras right out of the box. Had I not had the extra glass mouthpiece, I’d be waiting for one in the mail right now since my first one cracked (due to my own actions). Couple that with how great the Ascent is, the $250 price tag isn’t as steep as it may initially seem.
This is your standard run of the mill 14mm or 18mm (depending on which you order) adapter which replaces your mouthpiece stem. With most of the water pipe and water filtration devices I’ve seen, using the straight adapter would cause the contents of the chamber to sit up against the screen since the Ascent would be angled or pointed down. This mean less herb contact with the chamber and more herb bits falling through the screen (not a huge issue with water filtration).
The U-Shaped GonG WPA solves the problem of having the herbs sit away from the heating chamber and against the glass screen with water pipes/filters that have a downward angled stem. A plastic housing supports the Ascent in an upright or diagonally upright position while the stem forms a U shape underneath it. I don’t have either WPA to test, but this one looks much more fragile due to the added length to form the U shape.
Elephant in the Room
How does it compare to the Pax? The Ascent by DaVinci is a completely different beast. To compare the two would not to justice to either vaporizer. The Ascent is larger, heavier, and less discreet. Does this make it an inferior vaporizer?
The Ascent has a multitude of features that will outshine many other portable vaporizers on the market:
- Long lasting battery
- Only glass on glass portable vaporizer
- Adjustable temperature
- Temperature “stepping”
- Adjustable auto-shutoff timer
- Can be used while charging
I’ve learned through reviewing vaporizers and talking to vaporizer manufacturers that the only way to guarantee yourself a short list of cons is to have the simplest featureless vaporizer. Unfortunately the Ascent is not featureless and does have a few cons.
- Wife complains that the display screen is bright at night (it is).
- Bottom grill can feel hot, I haven’t been burned by it, but the sensation can be unpleasant if you brush against it. (Not too hot to put in your pocket directly after use.)
- Not very discreet when in use (when not in use it looks like a 2006 era smartphone such as the Palm Treo)
The Ascent is a fantastic portable vaporizer that I couldn’t recommend more. It’s made by a company that cares about its product and customers enough to include spares and extras in the box. My short experience with DaVinci customer service left me feeling great and well taken care of and their customer service manager Jessica was an absolute pleasure to work with. I have no doubt in my mind that the future of both DaVinci and their vaporizers is bright if they continue to listen to their customers as they have in the past, and continue to treat their customers as well as they currently do.