Dovpo Topside Dual SE & Dual Carbon
Lots to talk about today, and if this is the first time you have ever read one of my reviews it would probably be a good idea to skip right down to the meat in this literal nonsense sandwich, because saying I tend to ‘go on a bit’…is sugar coating the shit out of it. This is a long ass review…and besides…it’s been a while since I started a review with a bit of ‘story-time’ that has almost nothing to do with anything that anyone is even remotely interested in and is barely even slightly relevant to what I am reviewing….but hey…I have a few hours to kill and this is my house…..so….I’m just gonna slide right into it…
And it’s all to do with the saying…
‘Never meet your heroes’
I always thought this was such a strange thing to say, I mean….doesn’t everyone want to meet their heroes?……However….I discovered how true this was about 20 or so years ago. I was in my mid 20’s, barely recovering from my twisted…patchy…memories of the clubbing scene, and like many people of that era…..especially Mancunians such as my good self….I was completely obsessed with music, even more so for anything that came from the band The Stone Roses….it just kinda came with the territory – I mean even Liam Gallagher suffered the same obsession and modelled his whole persona on the monkey like frontman of this particular ensemble. We mimicked their fashion, we copied their hairstyles…..and if we were out with the lads having a skinful, I can guarantee that by the end of the night at least half of them would have adopted the infamous ‘Mancunian Madchester Monkey March’
Which is a strange swagger it has to be said….somewhere smack in the middle between walking…and dad dancing…for chimps….
Regardless….as a strange twist of fate, it just so happened that the aforementioned band’s lead singer had a son the same age as mine, and not only did they go to the same school….but they were actually best friends – something that I…erm….’encouraged’….through tactful…and manipulative means….I mean there’s only so much violence you can threaten a 7 year old kid with before ‘other’ people get involved….but I believe I got my message across…..even to his ‘other’ friends when they called him…. I couldn’t chance anyone getting in the way of this blossoming bromance…
Anyway….dubious parenting aside, the day came when Ian Brown Jr. had a birthday party planned. At that age kids’ birthday parties come thick and fast, and obviously being the ever-caring, young father of the year….I never gave the slightest hint of a shit. This time however, I had a slightly different approach..
“Get me into that fucking party”
Or something along those lines I believe was the literation I gave to my ex-girlfriend…like I said…father of the year…
Now….I had actually been in the presence of my then ‘musical deity’ before…I’d seen him in the crowd of mothers picking the kids up from school, he even gave me a knowing ‘I can tell you’re a fan’ nod….but…in the silence of parents waiting for their kids to come out of the doors and me not knowing what the fuck to say to someone, who for all intents and purposes was actually ‘God’…. my phone starting ringing and my ringtone happened to be ‘Fools Gold’ by……yes you’ve guessed it…The Stone Roses, and no…the earth didn’t open up and swallow me whole…despite my desperate and immediate requests to do so..
So…this was my opportunity to maybe…actually…meet the man in a formal setting …albeit…surrounded by screaming children, judging young mothers and…my ex-girlfriend…I mean the warning signs were there really. Regardless….the day came and to say I was probably more excited than any kid invited…was an understatement. So..there we were, I was stood in the dining room closely ‘guarding’ the egg & cress sandwiches when Ian finally turned up….yes….this was his ex-girlfriend’s house…who was I to judge. He gave me that knowing ‘so…you’re the guy with the ringtone’ nod and after a few minutes we ended up stood in the kitchen together making small talk. He asked me what I did for a living, I asked him the same question…oh how we laughed at that one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone’s face fall quite so quickly – and then he went on some big philosophical in-depth musical journey about the ins and outs of his upcoming solo album. There I was….alone with Ian Brown….and he’s telling ME in detail about an album that no one knows about. Obviously I’d pissed myself several times by this point, but even though internally I was massively and embarrassingly fangirling, I somehow managed to keep it together enough to appear engaged in the gospel that was being preached unto me…
But then…completely out of nowhere….he stopped mid sentence and said..
“Ere mate, ave you got a cig I can cadge off ya”
I swear I could literally hear the needle scratch cleanly and quickly…right across the record…
Now…don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the kind of miser that would begrudge someone a stinkie should they have run out….but this was Ian Brown, a platinum album selling mega musical genius responsible for one of the biggest Indie bands in the world….and he didn’t even have his own cigarettes…?….Wtf was that all about? He could own his own fucking cigarette brand! Suffice to say, I went from having one of the pinnacle moments of my entire life, to being stuck in a 6ft by 6ft kitchen with someone who, despite being a multi-millionaire rock star…couldn’t be arsed to buy his own fags and therefore thought it was perfectly acceptable to ‘cadge’ all of mine……I did of course save all his cig butts and later frame them, but still….he was just a normal, down to earth bloke – no different from anyone I’d meet in the pub – and because of this, Ian Brown didn’t merely step off from the pedestal my mind had placed him on all these years…but rather…he fell the fuck right off..
And the reason I’m telling you this?….Well, that little man in my head…… the one that is completely obsessed with anything vape related, that little character who has been writing vape reviews for three years, picking faults with things, weighing up pros and cons and thinking to itself “Man…I wish this was done this way…or that way” and “If only they did a version that had this on it, or had that function”….and “Why won’t they make something JUST for me?!?”…….could well have just met its hero – and today is the day it finds out whether this hero is everything it’s cracked up to be…..or is just another Ian Brown….and things….may never be the same again.
Don’t worry….all shall become very, very, almost, vaguely clear….shall we?
Welcome once again my gods and goddesses of all things cloudy and custard-like (?)…..back again with much, much….much more of the same….I mean fuck that was some bullshit nonsense intro right there eh?…..Man, I can fucking go on with myself… but regardless, today is most certainly one of those days that – as a highly professional award-winning, globally recognised and much admired (by at least…3 people)…vape reviewer…….(*sigh*…you really need to stop…) – I very much look forward to. The reason for this can be explained with one simple question….
‘What happens when you find your perfect device..?’
I mean…it’s my job to give my opinion on every single device that is kindly sent to me, but I have to be cynical. I have to look at them objectively and tell people what I think is good about it and what’s a big pile of steaming human excrement, and it is just my opinion – it really means cock all in the grand scheme of things. But just like everyone else out there, I too am looking for my perfect personal device, something that ticks every single box for my vaping style, something….that so far…has never existed. It’s been there, in my mind – that little vape gremlin in my head is a huuge fan, even though it has never actually met it….it even has posters on the wall and everything….probably some manky old framed cigarette butts on the mantelpiece, who the fuck knows….but today there is the potential for that dream encounter to be realised.
Let us…..finally…..get into it, because this is going to be one long slog with 2 different devices from 2 different suppliers, both designed by one guy…
From Ema over at Sourcemore I give you the Dovpo Topside Dual SE, and from Peng over at Dovpo we have the Dovpo Topside Carbon, both of which are designed by one Mr Brian Herb AKA The Vapor Chronicles AKA….’Beryl’
Before I start, those of you who read my stuff will remember that I reviewed the original single battery Dovpo Topside last year, I even gave one away – and I absolutely gushed over it. For me, it was…and still is, the best single battery ‘affordable’ squonk mod on the market, and one that I still have in regular rotation. With that mod, I was party to the ins and outs of it before it was even announced, and during those conversations with TVC he even told me about the plans for the dual…no details….just that it was ‘possibly’ being developed. Although I absolutely loved the original Topside, I knew full well that for my personal style of vaping, the dual….if it happened….had the potential to be EXACTLY….the kind of mod that hung on the bedroom wall of my vape brain…yet….when it was released, I didn’t get one. I don’t mean for review…I never actually asked for one – I rarely ask for anything, I just wait until it’s offered. No, this time I had every intention of buying one…but such is life – I have young kids, and if you’re in that particular paternal boat yourself…then you know the script; one minute you have the extra vape budget…and the next….
You get the idea….
But then, I received a request from Ema over at Sourcemore – “Would you like to review the Topside Dual?”
Would I like to?…..I’m not proud of the way I answered that particular request…
But then it arrived, and I wasn’t expecting it to be the SE version. I had in fact skipped the original dual altogether and unwittingly gone straight for the jugular….with blood splattering results….
Then….after a week of testing I had another conversation with Peng over at Dovpo, who offered me the soon to be released Carbon version of the Topside – an all singing, all dancing vision of Brian Herb’s to make a top shelf version of the Topside Dual….the dogs bollocks so to speak. Did I want one…??….At this point, my vape brain was having something which resembled an embolism…..
So, it turns out Peng doesn’t want to marry a man, which is fine – I’m not salty. After my vape brain camped outside my house for several days waiting for the mail man…..who…as it turns out…doesn’t want to marry me either….the Topside Carbon finally arrived, along with the restraining order. Although I knew about this device….pretty hard not to given Brian’s infamous piloting of the hype train….the pictures I’d seen didn’t really do it justice…..fuck my life…..this device……So, a double review was the only logical thing to do, which brings us bang up to date. Still with me?…..Really?…..Wow….
For those of you out there who don’t know what the Topside series of mods is all about….of which I’m presuming there’s probably…two of you at most….then allow me to spare you having to read any more of my drivel than necessary by supplying you with this link…
Which technically….is more drivel……just….not here…
The whole mechanism the Topside is about remains relatively unchanged on the dual versions….so reading that review will tell you all you need to know.
Now….let us concentrate on these, the Topside on steroids, and it’s twin brother in the swanky suit…
First and foremost, the obvious difference with Topside Dual is of course the extra battery. Where the original Topside gave you 90w from 1 x 20700 battery, the Dual will throw 200 rampant wattages right down your pie hole from two of your finest 18650 batteries. However, the question on everyone’s lips when they first heard the Dual was being made…where was the extra battery gonna sleep…?
There was really no other place for it. You couldn’t put it behind the original battery placement because of the position of the squonk bottle – that would have made it three batteries wide and …well….ridiculous, so they had to go next to each other. They’re all held firmly in place by the battery door with a little push and click…. and yes, this obviously makes it quite the chunky monkey, but even so…it’s surprisingly ergonomic. It doesn’t feel too bulky in the hand, in the pocket however?….Well….you may get a few raised eyebrows in public….let’s put it that way…
Now, both the SE version and the Carbon version are…as you can see…exactly the same size and shape. They share the same innovative top-fill squonk mechanism and essentially do exactly the same thing. The two main differences, which are however literally miles apart…..are the finish and the chip. We’ll start with the SE…
Like I said, through fate and a generous measure of good luck I skipped the original version of the Topside Dual, but that and the SE are exactly the same device in every way apart from the finish. It would appear that those whose boats weren’t entirely floated by the first batch of colours released, were given another option with the release of these special edition themes…for those requiring something a little more….disco…
Dovpo boast that these new finishes are ‘Double Layer Oxidised’ …I can only assume this means the finish will be a lot more durable…I’ll take their word for it – I’m not about to let any rough surface come within a cats pubic hair of my new-new’s….but they feel nice. The finish is impeccable and the colours available certainly offer something a bit different….especially useful if you’re a painter and decorator, or – as is the case with the theme I received…a mass murderer…
The screen on the Dual is identical to the original Topside screen, just with the added extra battery gauge..
But this time around the chip is upgraded to include all the TC settings. If you wanted them with the original, you had to download and install the upgrade from Dovpo – something which was a bone of contention with a certain set of vapers, especially those who owned Apple computers. But, as is always the case with TVC…he listened….so now you get all the settings for all different popular wires for all you TC geeks out there…to…..enjoy…? Is that the right word…?
Up on top we have the beautifully inset and insulated 510, and with the extra battery comes a whole lotta new real estate compared to the original Topside – due to the centred position of the 510.
This means it can take an RDA which has a width of up to…30mm…WHICH means….sorry – I have to steady myself for this bit, because this is something that up until now I could never do – I can now squonk with a 28mm Sherman RDA…
This is entirely a personal preference; the Sherman has been…by far….my favourite and most used RDA to date. What can I say, I’m all about the girth (?) and although the original doesn’t come as squonk compatible, in my early days when I didn’t have such a hang-up regarding the cloning of devices, I did buy a couple if Kindbright knock-off’s…and these did come with BF pins. So….seeing as I’d already bought them years ago…it would almost be rude not to…..and on this occasion…I’m not even sorry.
So….this has been me for the last few weeks – using the SE with a Sherman was all I ever needed. This was my vape brain’s hero, and thankfully, unlike my encounter with Ian Brown, it absolutely lived up to the hype….more so in fact. I regularly have anything between 5 and 10 rigs on the go at any one time but….I’ve been neglecting them….I swear…..sometimes at night when I’m trying to go to sleep…I can hear them sobbing on the shelf….
And….it feels unfair….I mean I’m a good person and I have feelings but, ever since the SE came into my vape brain’s life I….I don’t know…he’s become distant….unfeeling…..basically he’s become a bad father to my other vape rigs. What’s more worrying about this is the fact that…he doesn’t seem to give the slightest fuck…..that was…until Peng got in touch…..and then things got a whooole lot more complicated….
Now…the Topside Carbon may share the dimensions and basic functionality of the SE….but believe me, this is a whole different animal. Now, before I go ‘on one’ with myself, I highly suggest you check out TVC’s introduction video where…about 3 minutes in you will be able to watch the manufacturing process of this incredible device….
So, what’s the idea behind the Topside Dual Carbon?…..Well, Brian wanted to make a device that was as good as his Topside Dual, but then take it to the next level for those with slightly deeper vape budgets who appreciate higher-end devices. The result?….You get the Topside Dual with a partially handmade finish made from a mix of shredded carbon fibre and resin, all powered by a Yihi chip made especially for this device. If the SE is just a little bit too disco for you….then how about a little afternoon tea at the Ritz….
The outer casing itself, which – if you just watched the video, you’ll see – is a bit of a pain in the ass to make…is easily the nicest finish I have seen on a mass produced regulated device to date. It looks and feels….money. Sooo smooth and grippy, and with it being made from a carbon fibre and resin mix it’s also incredibly durable. It almost looks and feels like sanded granite, and this is even carried on into the firing button….
Up on the top we have a much cleaner look, with a matching black 510 plate and zero branding….
The branding is instead placed lower down on one side, in the form of a little stainless steel plaque…
Then of course there’s the screen. Instead of the usual low-res digital display we have a full colour 0.96″ TFT screen….
along with the extra menu button beneath the regular buttons….we’ll come to this in a minute.
Everything else is largely the same – the whole squonk mechanism and bottle configuration remains unchanged…
And the Carbon also comes in the following tasteful colours….
Topside Dual SE
- Size: 88.5mm*54mm*42mm
- Material: Stainless Steel, Zinc, & Aluminum Alloy
- Wattage Range: 5-200W
- Battery type: 2* 18650 batteries(not include)
- Voltage Output Range: 1.0-12V
- Resistance Range: 0.08-3ohm
- Screen Size: 0.96’’
- Juice capacity: 10ml
- Input Voltage Range: 0.08Ω -3Ω
- Circle Firing Button
- Two Adjustment Buttons
- Unique Top-Fill Method – Convenient Squonk Bottle Refill
- Bottom-Loaded Hinged Battery Cover
- MicroUSB Port – 5V/2A
- Leak-Resistant 510 Base
- Working Mode: VW, Bypass, TC
- Thread: Gold-plated Spring Loaded 510
Dovpo Topside Carbon
- High-End CARBON Edition – Powered by YiHi Chip
- Dimensions – 88.5mm by 54mm by 42mm
- Collaboration with The Vapor Chronicles – TVCreation
- Dual High-Amp 18650 Batteries – Not Included
- 10mL Silicone Squonk Bottle
- Wattage Output Range: 5-200W
- Voltage Output Range: 0.8-8V
- Joule Output Range: 10-120J
- Resistance Range: 0.08-3ohm
- Temperature Control Functionality
- Supports Ni200, Titanium, Stainless Steel Compatibility
- BYPASS Mode
- Carbon Fiber, Stainless Steel, Zinc & Aluminum Alloy Construction
- Lightweight, Scratch-Resistant Material
- Intuitive 0.96″ TFT Color Screen
- Circle Firing Button
- Two Adjustment Buttons
- Unique Top-Fill Method – Convenient Squonk Bottle Refill
- Bottom-Loaded Hinged Battery Cover
- MicroUSB Port – 5V/2A
- Leak-Resistant 510 Base
- Spring-Loaded 510 Connection
- Available in Carbon Red, Blue Carbon, White Carbon, Magenta Carbon
- 1 TOPSIDE DUAL Squonk Mod
- 2 10mL Squonk Bottle
- 1 Accessory Bag
- 1 MicroUSB Cable
- 1 Battery Usage Warning Card
- 1 Instructional Manual
Ok…..Jesus, where to start? My final thoughts on the Dovpo Topside SE & Carbon would be thus: When I first heard this device was being made, my vape brain got the biggest vape chubby of its life and the reasons for this were primarily and completely selfish. I wasn’t the biggest squonker, but that wasn’t because I didn’t understand the huge pros squonking has. Ninety percent of the time I drip; dripping is where you get the best vape experience by a country mile, and this was dripping with a huge liquid delivery built in. But almost all squonk mods were single battery devices back then, which just didn’t satisfy the power hungry demon within. My experience with the few dual battery squonkers on the market at that time was…well…lacklustre to say the least. Knowing Brian Herb’s attention to detail as well as Dovpo’s proven build quality, meant that whatever this thing was gonna be….it was as close to the hero my vape brain craved…as it was ever gonna get. Or at least, that was the pedestal my mind put it on….and this was some months before it was actually released…so….that pedestal just got higher and higher as time passed. Now…one of two things happens when you meet your hero – either you have an experience similar to the one I had with the lead singer of The Stone Roses (where they just don’t turn out as heroic as you’d once imagined, making the whole thing a massive anti-climax), or…..it surpasses your expectations and your hero is exactly what you’d imagined them to be, if not cooler…
I was utterly bowled over by the SE when it landed on my doorstep. It worked flawlessly, it looked and felt fucking beautiful, it had enough space for me to finally be able to squonk a Sherman and….more importantly….enough power to make it truly shine. THIS was it for me….my perfect device. I had 10 ml of liquid on tap with my favourite dripper and all the power I needed. I didn’t care how accurate the TC modes were, because I don’t TC and probably never will….but….for those who did….something spectacular…was on the horizon…
Now if you do TC….then Evolve and Yihi chips are…as a rule….where you need to be. Thoroughly accurate, customizable and reliable…but expensive. The retail on any mass produced regulated device powered by either of these chips was always substantially higher than those without….but for hardcore TC users….this didn’t matter. Brian Herb knew this only too well….so the Carbon was created to quench their geeky thirst.
This thing is by far the nicest looking, best made device I have ever had the privilege of reviewing. The carbon finish is something really special and the attention to detail has got TVC written all over it. Surprisingly…the only gripe I have with it is actually…the chip. I mean, a Yihi chip is wasted on me anyway as I’m a straight VW shooting vaper, but the way it’s set up is a little….confusing and frustrating – and that’s only on two of its many features. Firstly….turning it off is a pain in the ass – it’s five clicks to get into the menu, then choose system, then choose turn off….instead of just 5 clicks off like the standard Dual. It may not sound like much but, for example…I was walking to the hospital last week. I’m vaping while I’m walking. I get to the door, and instead of the standard five clicks and put it back in my jacket pocket as always….I have to stand there for a minute to navigate the system in order to turn it off….
I mean sure…you can ‘lock’ it with 3 clicks…but I’d much rather just shut the thing down….and it’s going through that rigmarole which brought the next issue forward – the menu…or rather…the way it’s displayed. When I reached that hospital door and went into the menu to start the shut down procedure…I couldn’t actually read it without putting my specs on. The colours of the menu display are light yellow or white font on a light blue background. If they were black and white like the home display, I could have held the mod far enough away from my face to read it but…this was impossible. Also, a slight third niggle…the padlock symbol on the home screen is, like, 1 pixel different between locked and unlocked…which is something else I can’t see without my specs on.
Now….this was an isolated incident because it is the only time I’d ever take the Carbon out with me, which is why these little gripes do not make me dislike the Carbon in any way. Well…having to highlight the wattage before you turn it up or down is a slight faff, but…my happy vaping place is sat at home, with a beer, and my Carbon on the table next to me. It never gets turned off, up or down, so I don’t have to deal with that – and for me, it’s not really a pocket mod so I highly doubt I’ll take it out again. It therefore remains my perfect vaping device…but to be honest…for the way I vape…I’d have been happy with the Dovpo chip.
So…all in all I could live without the Yihi side of things….the finish however…I could not. I can only imagine that the process used to make this carbon and resin mash-up will be used on many mods in the future – at least I hope so. The handfeel this finish gives you, coupled with the unexpected excellent ergonomics, makes it one of….if not the…nicest mods I’ve ever held to date. It really is that good – as is the impeccable build quality. On top of that, both the functionality of the device and the uber convenient and innovative top-fill system gives you…in my opinion….one of the best regulated devices on the market today. Has my vape mind finally met it’s hero?….Yes, absolutely…and it is smitten.
Okay…now, there’s quite a big difference between the SE and the Carbon here, and rightly so. The SE doesn’t have either the special carbon coating or the Yihi chip so…at time of writing it can be found on Sourcemore for £85/$107. Now, bear in mind that you are paying extra for the special edition double anodized coating; the original Topside Dual is around £70/$89…..but with the Carbon version and all its high-end materials…you are going to be looking at around £119/$150. That finish coupled with a Yihi chip will set you back an extra £34/$43 on the entry level Topside. If you look at it that way, and considering what actually goes into making the thing, it’s justifiable…and for those hardcore TC users amongst you…almost necessary. No…they aren’t the cheapest mods on the market, but believe me there are a shit ton of mods out there for around the same price point which don’t hold a torch to the Topside Dual..that much I can promise you….find those deals here…
Oh shit…I almost forgot the most important part of the whole fucking review, something that pretty much every single one of you will want to know about….yes….that magnet – you know…the one on the original single battery Topside under the door for holding your top cap on while you filled it?……The one that didn’t really work?…..Well, that’s fixed now – this one actually works….
This time it actually stays firmly attached to the battery door…..happy?…..Good…
I started this review with a story about how you should never meet your heroes, but after my vape brain met its hero with the Topside Dual, I’ve kinda proven that that’s not really true at all….which makes the whole long winded intro kinda senseless and without meaning. But hey…you’re still reading, so…who’s the real fool here….? (still you dear)…fuck you…weird….voice in my head….
That….explains quite a lot actually….
I’d like to thank Ema over at Sourcemore for her patience in waiting for me to receive the Carbon before I could start the review, and obviously I also give huge amounts of kudos to Peng over at Dovpo for trusting me to review their new baby – you’re all practically and almost as awesome as I am…I said almost. But the special thanks goes to Brian Herb, for creating such an amazing device which has set the bar so incredibly high for other manufacturers in terms of both innovation and attention to detail. The Topside…in all its guises, is a remarkable product. I wouldn’t go so far as to say you were my hero…but you do currently reside on a small…modest yet humble…pedestal in my mind.
As always the doors over at Steampugs are open 24/7 so feel free to have a mooch around where you will find a whole host of reviews from myself as well as the rest of the Steamteam.
And if you’d like to see where we waffle this kind of nonsense on a daily basis then head on over to our little corner of the vapeverse we like to call our forum, it’s free to join and we promise a warm and drama free welcome, find us here…
Until next time…