For the best part of two years now I’ve recoiled in quiet shame every time I’ve thought of how long overdue this review was. Now that I’ve eased myself back into blogging I’m happy to say (and a little bit relieved) that I’ve finally been able to put in the commitment to do this one justice. Without further ado, I present to you the AXIS!
Back in the Spring of 2019, as you may recall, I attended the ETO show in Coventry with a friend. It was a fantastic day where I got to see all sorts of wonderful products, and meet people from all across the industry. One of the highlights of the show had to be stopping by the ElectraStim stall, where I met a young lady (whose name sadly long escapes me) who introduced me to their brand new top-of-the-range product, the AXIS.
Having reviewed one of their control units in the past I was instantly impressed by the new tech that went into the AXIS, and I tweeted about it a few times as I was writing up my blog post on the event. A few days later an e-mail landed in my inbox with ElectraStim kindly offering me a unit to review, and naturally I jumped at the chance.
Initially the plan was for me to review the unit in its original form, then offer some feedback as they upgraded the firmware over time, but given the lag in me writing this I’ve decided just to review the most current firmware, V1.2.
So, what is the AXIS? If you’ve read my review of the Flick Duo then you should have a good idea of what ElectraStim products are all about. Essentially it’s a control box which delivers an electric charge to a range of compatible attachments (sold separately) in order to create one of the most unique sensations that you can get from a sex toy. If you’re new to electro-play altogether then it really is quite amazing. Like the Flick Duo the AXIS is a dual-channel unit, meaning you can use two different toys at once, or a single product such as the Sirius which requires both channels to operate. What makes the AXIS special though is its big show piece, gesture control. The AXIS can be controlled entirely without ever needing to physically touch the unit, and that’s a game changer.
Looking at the unit itself it’s broadly similar to the Flick Duo in terms of design. It very much has the same look and feel to it, only it’s a little on the larger side and has a redesigned button panel on the front. One of the key features is a 35mm x 20mm LCD screen which replaces the dual numerical display. It incorporates a lovely turquoise blue backlight and not only does it enable you to navigate through all of the menus within the AXIS, but it provides a visual representation of what the device is doing in any given mode you have it set to. The buttons themselves remain largely unchanged, merely repositioned slightly to take account of the screen, and there is a new “M” button to aid with navigation.
The AXIS has seven main modes, broadly split into 3 categories: there’s your pattern modes, Wave and Pulse; your motion modes, Flick, Tilt, and Proximity; and your sound modes, Microphone and Line-in. These are each further subdivided into more options, giving a grand total of 48 different programs to choose from, and that’s definitely a lot.
The first mode is Wave, and this is by far my favourite of the lot. When it comes to any toy, vibrating or electro, I absolutely love a pattern, and nothing beats the rising and falling pattern of a wave. There are 10 sub-settings within Wave: the first one is continuous and is simply the default mode of the AXIS. The other 9 give you different wave speeds and wave patterns, as well as letting you decide if you want the pattern synchronised across both channels or to alternate between them. I absolutely love all of them, especially depending on the type of toy I’m using. Sometimes you want that slow in and out wave, sometimes you prefer it fast, and sometimes it’s the more complex and unpredictable sequences that drive you wild. It’s easily the mode that I use the most, and I’m really glad that they put so many different options into it.
The second mode is Pulse, and like Wave it’s a pattern setting, only whereas Wave is a pattern of gradual increase and decrease, Pulse is a pattern of on and off. This time Pulse has 12 different sub-settings; you can have slow pulses, you can have fast pulses, you can have pulses that start slow and gradually get faster, and similar variations on this theme. There’s also the option to choose between synchronising or alternating between the channels. Pulse can be fun to use, but personally when it comes to electro I far prefer to have that build up of intensity, as with the Wave, rather than just a sudden flash of something at full power, followed by a brief nothing.
Flick mode is exactly the same as the feature on the Flick Duo, and as with back then it’s not one that I really use. It’s a simple concept based around motion controls; the harder you shake the unit, or flick your wrist whilst holding it, the stronger the jolt of electricity it sends out. I must admit that this one scares me a little. Even when I have it set to a max level that I can tolerate, when I shake it too hard and it leaps straight to that power I wince a little. I do find myself, therefore, shaking it quite sheepishly. It’s a novel idea, but because of the limited scope of it I find it less fun than a pattern. It has 5 settings now which let you decide which combination of the channels you want to react to the motion, allowing you to customise the experience to the attachments you’re using.
Tilt mode is a similar concept to Flick, only this time the motion is gyroscopic. If you imagine that the AXIS is lying on a completely level plane then its output will be zero. As you begin to tilt it forwards and back, or left and right, along its axes the power output begins to increase in different ways, and you see this reflected in the little visual in the screen. The more extremely you tilt it, the stronger the current. It is quite fun, but I imagine where a mode like this is going to get really interesting is all depending on how creative you can get. If you’re in a situation where you can blindfold a partner, get them a little disoriented, and then have them walk about with the AXIS balanced somewhere on their body, then it could be quite amusing as they struggle to get perfectly level to stop the jolts. There are 7 modes for tilt (one of which is a test mode) which offer broadly the same channel variations as in Flick.
Proximity is probably my favourite of all the motion control modes. It makes clever use of the motion sensor on the top of the device to detect your distance from the AXIS and react accordingly. If it detects nothing then there’s no output. If it detects you, but at a distance, then the output starts low. As you gradually move closer to the sensor the output grows stronger, up to the maximum level you have it set to. It’s a bit fun for a game of chicken, moving your hand ever closer until you finally decide you can’t take it any more. It’s also good for making your own pattern just by waving your hand about to send out pulses. Proximity has 5 modes allowing you to switch between the channels.
Microphone mode and Line-in mode I’m going to cover together as they function the same way. In microphone mode the AXIS reacts to any sound it picks up. Silence = no output. Soft noise = low output. Loud noise = high output. This gives you the option of controlling it with speech, claps, playing a musical instrument, and is probably especially fun if the person making the noise is separate to the person wired up to it. Line-in mode lets you hook the AXIS up to your MP3 player and it will output a pattern which matches the rhythm of whatever song you choose. This is exactly the same principle as those vibrators from years ago with a similar feature, so if you’ve got a favourite tune you’d love to feel tingling through your body then you’ll love this one. Microphone has 5 modes which allows you to customise which channels the AXIS uses, while the 4 modes of Line-in mostly pertain to whether you want the AXIS to interpret the sound in stereo and relay it to the dual channels in the same manner.
Despite having so many modes it’s all exceptionally easy to navigate, and that’s in thanks to the additional “M” button which allows you to cycle through all 7 modes (and 1 menu screen), while the circle-arrow button lets you to scroll through the options within each mode or menu.
One of the things about the way that the Axis works that I’m not so keen on is how the intensity level changes as you move between modes. If you’re up at level 20 on Wave and you switch to another setting within it, say from slow to fast, then it stays at 20 as you’d expect. If however you switch from Wave to Pulse then it immediately knocks you back down to zero. In testing I found this a little bit frustrating as I wanted to jump around and try a bit of everything, but I’d constantly be having to wait while I cranked the power back up to a level where I could feel it. In general use I imagine that this is less of an issue because you probably decide on a given mode ahead of time and stick with that, rather than hopping about erratically like I was. I still feel as though, if I could make one change, it would be at least for the intensity to stay the same between Wave and Pulse. The others I don’t mind so much, as I’m less likely to want to go from a session with Wave to suddenly wanting microphone control, but when pattern switching it makes sense.
So that’s the modes covered, but there’s been a lot of talk about buttons, “what about the gesture control?” I hear you cry, so here we go. The AXIS has very cleverly incorporated a system which allows you to duplicate most of the button commands simply by motioning with one of your hands (or feasibly any other body part). So why would you want this? I think the simplest answer lies in just how messy things can get when you’re in the throes of passion. Lube, massage oils, whipped cream, bodily fluids, you name it, at some point your paws have become absolutely filthy, and do you really want to be reaching over and touching an expensive piece of electronics with mitts like that, or wiping them off every 5 minutes? In many respects it’s a genius solution, so lets look at how it works.
Gesture control has six recognised commands depending on the way you wave your hand over the sensor; that’s two for each of the X, Y, and Z axes in three-dimensional space, and the maximum that you could reasonably have whilst keeping things simple. You move your hand away from you to increase both channels., and move your hand towards you to decrease both channels. You swipe your hand to the right to increase channel 2, and swipe your hand left to increase channel 1. You place your hand near to the sensor and raise it vertically to select the next program, and place your hand distant from the sensor and lower it vertically to move to the next mode. It’s all fairly straightforward stuff, which is precisely what you want.
One of my favourite things is that in the AXIS menu there’s a practise mode, so you can hone your technique and understand when you’re getting the motions right. It’s actually quite easy to pick up, even if you do feel a bit like a Jedi a first. If at any time it flashes up with a big [!] then it means it didn’t recognise the command and you should try again. I found the vertical movements the hardest ones to pick up, but once I realised that a green LED at the base flashes on as soon as the sensor detects your hand it became much easier to master it.
So how does it function in the real world? Actually really rather well. Once you commit to using it you get used to it surprisingly fast, and the next thing you know you’re conducting yourself through your entire play session. The way I tend to use it is for fine adjustments. I’ll select the mode I want, and the ballpark intensity, using the buttons at the start, simply because I find that’s the fastest way to do it, and then as I go along I’ll gesture to increase the power a bit, or switch from the slow wave pattern to the faster one. What’s nice is that you don’t really even need to look at it; it’s not a matter of checking you’re about to press the right button, you just swipe your hand and it knows what you want. All in all it’s pretty nifty.
Both channels on the AXIS go up to a maximum power level of 99. So far I’ve made it to around 30 when I was playing with just the adhesive pads and that was pretty intense, so I can only imagine how much stronger it gets. The AXIS is intended to be Electrastim’s universal machine though, so whereas the Flick Duo wasn’t powerful enough for a big metal toy like the Intruder, the AXIS at its higher levels should do the job more than sufficiently.
Something I can report very favourably on is the battery life of the AXIS, and more importantly the battery health. The AXIS comes fitted with a rechargeable battery, charged by micro USB, and when I took mine out again to review it this month it had been sat dormant for well over a year since its last charge. Despite the battery having completely depleted over that time, it recharged to full capacity in under an hour, and has been performing flawlessly since. I used it non-stop for at least a couple of hours the other night and it was still 60% full at the end.
So before I wrap up here let’s talk accessories. What do you get with the AXIS? The control unit comes in a fantastic little soft-shell carry case all lined with thick foam, and along with it you get: 4 adhesive pads, two connector cables, a male-to-male audio jack cable, a USB charging cable, and a little plastic clip so you can mount the AXIS onto your belt. It’s a great little bundle, and everything you need to get started, but trust me when I say that it’s the accessories that really make a product like this, so be sure to check out some of my reviews of those too.
There we have it. I knew that this was going to be a lengthy one, and at long last I’ve completed it. Congrats if you’ve made it all the way to the end, and I hope that I’ve answered all your questions. I must say I really do love the AXIS. Electrastim have taken a great product like the Flick Duo and cranked up to 11. More power, more features, more everything, and best of yet it’s absolutely future-proof with the regular firmware updates. If you’re going to invest in any electrosex product then I’d suggest that this is the way to go.