Before we get into why the Pax 2 is so great, it would help to discuss where the first Pax fell short. Despite being light-years ahead of other portable vaping systems of the day like, say, the Magic-Flight Launch Box, the first Pax was not perfect. For one thing, users had to toggle the unit's power by clicking the extendable mouthpiece. Unfortunately, even sparing use of the device proved enough to clog the vapor pathway with sticky resin, thereby making it nearly impossible to operate. And since you couldn't turn the unit on, there was no means of heating up the air pathway to loosen the resin and pull out the mouthpiece.
What's more, the shape of the mouthpiece itself prevented you from prying it off manually. When I reviewed the original model, I actually clogged my test unit so badly (and so quickly) that PAX Labs had to send me a replacement unit just to finish the review. There were also a couple of smaller, niggling problems like the easily scuffed plastic casing and finicky temperature levels.
The Pax 2, however, suffers from none of these concerns. In fact, it looks like PAX Labs specifically focused on fixing these issues when designing the new unit. At less than four inches long, the Pax 2 is significantly shorter than the original. It also weighs a couple grams less than the first one. Overall, the Pax 2 is 25 percent smaller and 10 percent lighter than the first. That doesn't, however, make the Pax 2, with its lack of moving external parts, feel any less sturdy and robust. In fact, the new unit's brushed aluminum casing (available in four colors: charcoal, platinum, topaz, flare) is far less prone to scuffs and scratches.
The new mouthpiece is, quite simply, fantastic. Rather than a physical mechanism that can be gummed up with resin, the Pax 2 utilizes a small, rubberized pad that doubles as a touch-sensitive power and temperature-setting button. It may seem weird initially, especially if you're accustomed to the original's external mouthpiece, but this new form is far easier to use, seals better and won't sear your lips. I, for one, really like the flush-mounted mouthpiece. It not only pops off the unit and gets lost in my bag/pockets far less often, but also helps stealthily conceal what the Pax 2 actually is. I mean, with the original Pax, it was pretty obvious what I was vaping every time I extended the mouthpiece. But this is much more subtle, maybe even more so than its rival -- the Firefly.
I was very impressed by the vapor quality of the new Pax 2, which got downright milky at the two highest temperature settings.
The Pax 2's heater is also vastly superior to the original's. While you needed to remove the mouthpiece and press a tiny button on the interior of the unit on the first Pax, the Pax 2 simply requires you to long-press the power button to bring up the temperature-selection menu, and then tap it to cycle through the four heat settings. So. Much. Easier. Additionally, the first Pax's oven design often caused the bottom plate to heat more than the sides or top, which resulted in scorching -- precisely what you don't want to have happen. But the Pax 2's stainless steel oven, which is both deeper and wider, heats more evenly with minimal scorching. Overall, I was very impressed by the vapor quality of the new Pax 2, which got downright milky at the two highest temperature settings without tasting harsh or smoky. You will probably need to fiddle with your puffing technique a bit to get the most out of each hit; go for a gentle cigar-style puff, not a sharp inhale like you're clearing a binger.
Far and away the biggest performance improvement involves the Pax's battery life. The original Pax battery lasted for four, maybe five sessions before requiring a three-hour stint on its charging dock. The Pax 2 requires about the same amount of time to fully recharge (around two to three hours), but thanks to a vastly improved internal accelerometer, which turns off the heater the moment you set it down, the new unit lasts for nearly twice as many sessions between charges that its predecessor. I averaged seven to nine sessions per charge over the course of this test. This means I can now head out for the evening without worrying if my vaporizer will last, or if I should have brought a backup pipe.
Be warned, the pocket-sized Pax 2 carries a substantial $280 price tag. That's 30 bucks more than the original Pax (although that model is currently being discounted down to $200) and is on par with the $270 Firefly and $260 Arizer Air. While the Pax 2 doesn't heat instantly like the Firefly or offer an aromatherapy function like the Arizer, its combination of ease-of-use, portability, impressive battery life and vapor quality make it well worth checking out.