This review will be split up into two posts, to address the function of the Esthesia with and without the app. The link to the companion review will be linked at the end of this post.
[Header Image Description: The Vibease App playing The Storm by Graces_Grove. The cover art shows two silhouettes in a tent, with dark clouds overhead.]
The Esthesia’s manual controls let me down, but using the Esthesia with the app is a whole different story. The functionality is greatly increased and I feel like I’m using a truly unique vibrator. It isn’t perfect, but I think the app fixes a lot of the issues I outlined in the previous review.
I have no pretences about being a technology reviewer, so I’m not sure if all of the issues I have with the Vibease app are because of the app or because of my (admittedly quite old) phone. I’ve found that the pairing takes a long time, especially the first few times. Sometimes I can see that my phone is connected to the Esthesia, but that connection isn’t being recognised by the app.
The connection seems quite weak as well. Most of the time I can walk two rooms away from my phone and my Bluetooth headphones will still work, but I have to keep my phone around my stomach while I use the Esthesia otherwise it loses connection. This means I can’t always see the connectivity indicator, and instead have to wait for the tone indicating that connection is on the last bar and about to be lost. I also can’t close my legs while I’m using the Esthesia or it will shut off entirely, which is my instinctual move when I’m close to orgasm.
I did have some difficulty remembering to turn off the actual vibrator as well as close the app, so a few times I would go to turn on the Esthesia for another round of testing only to realise that it had run out of battery because it had been on standby all night. I don’t think that’s the fault of Vibease, but moreso a word from the wise.
As far as privacy concerns, the Vibease icon is reasonably discreet — just a stylised V/heart design — although the name of the app is Vibease, so it’s not the sneakiest. Additionally, the Esthesia shows up in your previously connected devices in the Bluetooth section of settings.
Another little annoyance is that the Vibease app doesn’t block pop ups like an app like my banking app does. This means that I can be drawing frantic patterns the control the vibrator I have clenched in my vag, and I can get a text notification from my grandma, or messages from my cast group chat. This isn’t a privacy or discretion issue — just because I can see someone’s message doesn’t mean they can see me — but it does serve to either throw me out of my fantasy or cause a handful of heart palpitations.
A note for blind readers and other readers who utilise image captions: This section of this review focuses on images within the app. I have tried my best to describe the images, but I apologise if this section is difficult to understand.
You can use the app either as a standard vibrator or with the preloaded erotic audios. The app provides 11 patterns, which are a sex toy reviewers wet dream because they have names. I don’t have to say “the fifth pattern” or “the pattern with short bursts”! I can say “Summer Air” or “Deep Kiss” and show you the quite descriptive pattern diagrams.
My favourite patterns were “Flick”, which has three pulses of different strengths, and “Mountain Top”, which rolls through all the strengths. As I’ve said, I don’t enjoy patterns if my goal is a simple orgasm, but there’s something luxurious about the way they encourage you to take your time.
You can edit patterns, but cannot make your own, and once a pattern has been changed, you can’t reverse the change. As a chronically indecisive person, I’m uncomfortable with the pressure of changing something irreversibly, even if it’s as inconsequential as a vibration pattern. The drag-and-drop interface seems more difficult to control than it should be. You can place one of the points between power levels, but the app will rationalise that to one of the 9 speeds. It would be better if the points snapped to a speed, rather than having to over- or undershoot each speed to reach that level.
Most disappointingly, you cannot control each arm of the Esthesia separately in the app. However, you can create steady speeds with a bit of work, and it’s easy to switch between patterns, which is a step up from the manual controls.
Erotic Audio Interface
The audio stories offer a new kind of interface with the vibrator. You choose a story and can either let the story’s associated pattern control the vibrator, or use the screen controls. I find the controls in the audio story section confusing. They appear to be on an x/y axis, labeled “speed” and “strength”, but I can’t feel much of a difference between the extremes of either axis. I do feel like the audiobook interface is less strong, but I prefer it to the preset patterns. I was disappointed that once I started using the screen controls, the only way to return to the story controlled vibrations was to close the story and start it again. I liked letting the story take control. I felt that the vibrations were well timed to the story, almost like those 4D movies that rock you around and spray water in your face, only sexier. It’s a surprisingly immersive experience, and definitely a unique way to enjoy a vibrator.
Erotic Audio Content
The audio stories themselves are a mixed bag. Most of the stories are presented in a way that the listener is encouraged to imagine themself participating in the fantasy, which is not my preferred way to engage with erotic content. I much prefer a short story format, with unique characters that are removed from myself. This is especially important as a nonbinary trans person, as the assumption that the listener is a cis woman is made quite clear.
On top of that, there aren’t many lesbian stories available on the app. I found three for free and about five more that I could pay for. Most were from an experimentation perspective. I feel like it’s all too often that women’s attraction and love for other women is downplayed or seen as lesser than relationships between women and men. One of the stories even mentioned a male partner who wasn’t even present in the fantasy, which was both unnecessary and a quick turn off. I’m trying to jerk off here! I don’t want to think about men! Save the analyses of lesbophobia and the over-sexualisation of bi women for essay-writing time, not when I’m trying to bloody come! I gave a few of the straight stories a listen, in the interest of a comprehensive review, and I noticed that most of them skewed towards submission fantasies. If you’re a domme, vanilla, or not a woman at all, I really don’t know how to Vibease stories will work for you. I listened to “The Storm” with the most regularity, which is a fantasy about you and another woman getting trapped in a storm while camping. I liked the little bit of plot, the gentle lead in to the sex, and the way that lesbian sex was presented without shame.
At the moment, there are not a lot of audios available, and some have to be purchased. You can sample the audios before you buy or download, which I think is really important if you’re going to listen to a voice while you’re masturbating, so I appreciate that function. However, you purchase stories with credits, which I was less than pleased with. You have to buy credits in 10, 25, 55, or 85 credit bundles. Essentially it means that if you only want one 15 credit story, you need to buy more credits than you need. I know it’s only a few cents difference, but I can’t help but find credits systems a bit dishonest. Because the tracks are made by different performers, the audio is not always the same volume or quality, but they all seem sufficiently audible. As with most media, not every story is going to be to your personal taste, but I have been receiving email updates when new stories are uploaded, so I’m confident that the choices will continue to expand.
I’m definitely not going to use the Vibease app every time I get off. It feels constricting to have all the attention focused on me through the audio story. Sometimes I just want to orgasm as a form of escapism, separate from my thoughts and the thoughts of other people. If I’m going to fantasise about sex with someone, I need to feel like I’m attractive enough for someone to want to have sex with me, which isn’t always the case.
The Vibease experience isn’t suited to a quick orgasm before you leave to catch a plane or the like. A story goes for about 10 to 20 minutes, and if you’re like me you then need to switch to a stronger vibrator if you want an orgasm. For people who can orgasm with the Esthesia, I can imagine that there would be some pressure to orgasm “on time” for the climax of the story. In this sense, I actually prefer not being able to come using the Esthesia, because it’s easier to avoid pressuring myself to orgasm at a particular time or in a particular way. When I use the Esthesia with the Vibease app, I feel like I’m creating a little oasis that I can slip into for a moment. I don’t want to do it all the time, but it’s a nice way to treat myself.
You can buy the Esthesia or other Vibease-enabled vibrators at the Vibease website.
Next, read my review of the Esthesia without the app!