I have outlined the differences in other posts but for a quick rundown…
An atomizer is meant to be a semi-permanent device for your ecig (which creates the vapor). It is meant to last for quite a while. I have gotten up to 6 months on a normal 901 atomizer and then there have been some that only lasted less than a month. Most however, last a couple of months or so.
A cartomizer was designed originally to be a throw-away item. Once you use the juice up, you toss it. But being the creative folks we are, we have figured out how to refill them and reuse them over and over again. Cartomizers were not really designed for this originally. Most older cartomizers were the atomizer, filler and juice all in one package. Now, some come as just the atomizer/filler and you put a drip tip on it. These are how the tank cartos are designed.
Tank cartos have a hole in the side and a tank sits around the outside of the carto itself. When you draw on the tip, the vacuum sucks in juice through the hole and replenishes the filler material in the carto. The carto inside however, is still designed the same as all other cartos were previously (with the exception of the dual coil cartos which just has two coils instead of one).
The difference between the atomizer and the carto is simply this… Atomizers are built to last as long as they can. Cartomizers are only meant to last a couple of weeks or less before they get plugged up. Plugging up is not usually a huge problem since the replacement cartos are really cheap. Atomizers are not in most cases.
What I find that I am enjoying is using tank cartomizers since I only have to refill them once or twice a day. No dripping or toping off. After a couple of weeks, I replace the carto and I’m good as new again. The cartos I buy are only about $2.00 a piece so they are really cheap. They do plug up and become very hard to draw on so when that happens, just replace it. I’m also using the dual coil version which seems to give out more vapor but also is the reason they only last a couple of weeks on the average. I’ve gotten longer times out of them but 2 weeks is the average.
I used to use a regular 901 atomizer with a pump bottle to replenish the juice in the filler material of my atomizer but with the tank carto, you never need to pump. Less work, more vape time and never a dry burnt taste signaling you need to pump juice into the atty with a tank.
So what is better? Atomizers last longer but require more work (dripping,refilling,etc). Cartos need to be replaced sooner but require less work. Regular cartos (non tank) also can hold quite a bit of juice but will still only last so long. I’m finding that tank cartos are the right for me.
Ego’s have kind of crossed the boundary with their atomizer that has a small tank that holds about 1.6 ml of juice but I still don’t like the plastic taste I get from the Ego I own. It works well but you have to still refill it a lot more than my tank.
For me, the tank cartos win in the end even though I still love my 901 atty.
Your mileage may vary.