Pax is releasing an updated version of its Era vaporizer with new smart features that are meant to make vaping feel safer at a time when weed vapes have been linked to lung injuries and deaths. For buyers, it’s also supposed to offer a better vaping experience, with automated temperature controls and pods that can remember exactly how much (or little) you want from every hit.
The new vape, the Pax Era Pro, looks almost identical to the original Era, which was released two years ago. The new model charges over USB-C instead of Micro USB, and it has a tip with slightly chamfered edges to address complaints of the original model snagging when owners would slide it into their pockets.
Its biggest updates come from new smart pods, which have little NFC tags to tell the vape what’s inside them. That allows the vape to automatically set itself to the correct temperature for any given strain. It also allows some settings to be stored on the pod itself. If you prefer a different temperature or want to set dosing limits on a specific pod, you can set that once using the app, and the pod will remember it whenever you plug it into the vape.
Because Pax’s app can identify each pod, it’s also adding a new feature to show what’s inside them. If you dig into the app, you can find information on which company produced the pod, read findings from lab safety tests, and learn more about the strain and its potency. All that information isn’t guaranteed to make these vapes safe — the deadly lung injuries were caused by what was otherwise believed to be an innocuous chemical — but Pax’s hope is that it can promote transparency around weed pods, increase trust, and set the brand apart as one of the reliable names in the space. “The future of vaping relies on transparency,” Jesse Silver, Pax’s SVP of product, told The Verge.
All of Pax’s pods are made by producers the company has chosen to work with. That means you’re locked into a proprietary weed pod ecosystem, but it also means the pods are all being vetted. (Thus far, Pax’s name hasn’t been connected to the vaping injuries.) JJ O’Brien, Pax’s chief strategy officer, says Vitamin E acetate, the chemical linked to the injuries, has primarily been used as a filler in black market oils. “All of our products are made currently without any additives,” O’Brien said. “Everything that is in that oil is found in a joint.”
Fears around vaping aren’t Pax’s only problem right now. This new device is already being dramatically limited by a recent decision from Apple. Apple decided to wipe all vaping-related apps from the App Store in November, including Pax’s app for controlling its vapes. That means many of these smart features are inaccessible if you use an iPhone. (The app is still available for Android phones through the Google Play Store.)
iPhone owners will have access to more limited versions of these smart features. Pods can still automatically set their temperatures, and users can still broadly adjust the temperature on the vape itself. But they’ll be unable to set dosing limits, and they’ll be unable to look up information about what’s inside their pods. “We’re still working with Apple to try to get the app accepted,” Silver said. Pax is now at work on a web app that can replicate many of these features, but there’s no timeline on when it’ll be ready.
The Era Pro goes on sale today for $70. The original Era will remain on sale as a lower-end model. Pax’s pods — both the original versions and the new smart ones — will work with either version of the Era, though only the new model will be able to take advantage of the smart features. Pax says it’s actually been rolling out the new smart pods to stores for a couple of months. The only way to tell the difference between the two is a thin red ring around the pod, which indicates it’s the smart version.