First Look: Amber for Apple Watch

About a month ago, we introduced to you a cool upcoming accessory for Apple Watch – Amber, which acts as a charging hub and protective “jewelry box” for the Apple Watch.

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While ClearGrass is celebrating their success on Amber’s Kickstarter campaign, that the project was funded in 8 days, the Beta unit for review has quietly arrived at my door. It is amazing that the device itself is not only purely a juice pack for Apple Watch and iPhone, but also a charging hub the Apple devices.

Specifications

– Power in: Micro-USB, 5V / 2A
– Power out 1: Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Connector, 5V / 1A
– Power out 2: USB, 5V / 2A
– Battery: 3600 mAh 3.7V
– Dimensions: 101 * 101 * 46.4 mm / 3.98 * 3.98 * 1.83 in
– Weight: 270 g / 9.52 oz.
– Materials: Aluminium; Plastic

Unboxing

The Amber Beta unit comes with the Amber watchcase with the shell and spool assembled. There is also a starter guide underneath the Amber inside the box that help you setup the device and use it as it is designed to be. is also a starter guide to help you through setting For the final retail package, you should be able to getting a Micro-USB charging cable as well.

Setup

The setup is simple and intuitive. Remove the shell and spool from Amber. Plug the Apple Watch charging cable USB connect into the spool. Then twine the charging cable evenly around the spool and insert the magnetic connector into the groove. Put the spool back onto Amber and cover it back with the shell. Now you are ready to go.

For full unboxing and setup demo, please spend a couple of minutes to watch the video below:

Design

The aluminum watchcase mainframe makes Amber looks as an elegant little jewelry box with combination of power bank for the devices and gorgeous protective case for Apple Watch.

It is very user-friendly for people crazy with collecting Apple Watch Bands and cases to juice up outlook and experience, in the sense that the case is compatible with almost all watch bands and cases with different length and thickness. I tried both open and closed loop bands, thick and thin leather bands, and bulky watch cases like the ones offered by Spigen and Speck.

One of the best features internally showing both intelligence of the device and caring the users who may use Amber at night or near the bed is that the battery life LED indicator will only light up for 10 seconds when it is being charged.

Amber LED

Why it’s so important to mention is because almost all the juice pack that I have used, when I want to charge it at night, the LED keeps flashing during the charging process and stays on at full charge which is really disturbing when room is dark.

Performance

I have not tried out how long it is required to fully charge Amber as I always plug it to the wall charger. But I did try out charging up the Apple Watch that it goes up 1% within a few minutes while plugged into wall adapter with a Micro-USB cable supporting a maximum 2.4A output. The charging experience has been quite stable.

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Notably speaking, Amber is intelligently engineered that it detects if the Apple Watch is securely attached to the charging connector by tracking the electric output from the device. Amber will go to sleep mode to avoid battery drains while the Apple Watch is actually detached from the magnetic connector. With this sense built into the device, Amber becomes a very promising companion to go with.

Comparison with Nomad Pod

Nomad Pod is the one that I rushed to purchase before I went on a very important trip overseas and it does the job pretty well throughout the days. I did place a review of it but after that I found myself rarely use it again. Not that I am saying it is not useful at all. But I couldn’t simply throw it into my bag and charge my Apple Watch. I need a desk, or dining table to place on for charging. Users should know that the magnetic connect is not a strong magnet to hold the watch securely when you have it shaking in the bag. On the other hand, Amber is not only be able to hold the watch securely in motion, but also protects it from external shock and scratches everywhere you take it with.

The pictures below told everything in terms of design. The Nomad Pod is significantly smaller in terms of size. Not much to compare on how to wrap the cable inside but they are different and both are very sensitive on the quality of wrapping or you can’t really secure the case lock. One of the major shortfalls for Nomad Pod first generation is lack of USB charging port for iPhones.

Another one is the battery size. Nomad Pod offers only 1,800 mAh but Amber comes with 3,600 mAh. The price is basically the same at this moment. But the good news is, the final retail version of Amber is going to embed with 3,800 mAh battery which give you more juice to go for the day.

Nevertheless, Nomad Pod Pro is the one that is actually comparable with Amber and it packs a compact high density 6000mAh lithium-ion battery which is significantly larger than that of Amber. The price tag of $99.99 for retail showed the difference if you would opt for a larger battery capacity. Yet, the major drawback of Nomad Pod is yet making less practical as a portable juice pack comparatively.

Conclusion

Amber is a must have Apple Watch accessory that serves multi-purpose in reality. Its design is elegant and well-crafted. User-oriented intelligence has come inside the quality and solid watchcase build. The performance is indeed outstanding even with the Beta unit that definitely sets a high bar for output quality that the final retail products come to your hand.

Overall speaking, it is a sleek and beautiful solution for both portable charging and charging hub on the desk, at home and at office.

You can still back the Amber project within these couple of weeks with a minimum of $55 on Kickstarter as the $49 Early Bird Pledges have all gone. The best deal is to pledge $59 if you would like to get it shipped before 2016.

What do you think about Amber for Apple Watch? Will you or have your backed Amber already? Let me know in the comments.

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