Review: Amber – An Apple Watch Travel Case & Charger, by ClearGrass

In late December, those who opted to receive a prototype as a Kickstarter backer for ClearGrass’ Apple Watch Travel case, began to get their units delivered. The capital-raising campaign raised the Arizona-based start up more than double their goal – they raised a total of $113,582USD by the time the campaign ended, and are now seeking additional funding through their Indiegogo project – so you can still get a great low price!

Quick Specs:

  • Four colours – Rose Gold, Gold, Space Grey, and Silver.
  • Charged by a provided flat-cable Mini USB.
  • 1x 2 Amp output to charge a 5v USB powered device
  • Button-activated, 5-light battery status indicator.
  • Stated Final Capacity: 3,800 mAh (tests on prototype unit indicate 2,300mAh)
  • Charging the Powerbank, also charges any connected Apple Watch, and/or USB connected device, simultaneously.
  • Units Weighs 300gms
  • There’s an App on the way to allow you to get alerts.

The Amber prototype units were  delivered in packaging that compliments Apple’s own packaging – Minimalist, white, waxed cardboard boxing, and pastic sealed. Thankfully for myself, despite poor handling at some stage by a courier, ClearGrass’ packaging kept the Amber damage-free.

While I didn’t notice it when unboxing, Amber came packaged with instructions as an insert under the device, but was a little tricky getting out without nails.

The user manual runs through how to set up your travel watch case – specifically, how to wind your 1m or 2m Apple Watch cable onto the spool, as shown below.

Whilst inspecting the unit I did have my concerns around the issue of “cable crimp”, but after plugging my cable in, there wasn’t the hard twisting of the cable I was expecting – in fact, once it was wound and the magnetic cradle was set, I was able to loosen the cable on the spool.

Despite being beta units, the Amber itself has a feel of quality about them – you can see that they’ve put in the time to ensure everything about it is done right. The product is beautiful, doesn’t feel cheap to hold, and the construction is solid – everything you’d expect from a product that is going to be holding your Apple Watch whilst traveling.

I think only the glaringly offensive aspect of these test units is the bright red hinge. As a prototype, I’m not fussed – but I do hope that the final design does away with the hot dog red plastic.

My 42mm Apple Watch is fitted with an aftermarket watch band,  and it still fitted perfectly in the provided space, and as such, I haven’t felt that I need to worry about the watch moving about in the case whilst it’s in my bag; the snug fit makes the watch becoming dislodged practically impossible.

I’ve been keeping Amber in my bag as I get about, but as I have charging bases set up at home and at the office, and only need to charge my Apple Watch every 30-hours or so, having this convenient gadget has meant I don’t have to worry about having to put my Apple Watch into “Power Reserve” if I happen to be out longer than I expect – which happens with my job, and as bonus, I always have a Power Bank for my iPhone when I need it.

About the only people that will have a problem are those with the over-size watch cases, for which, I have no solution to offer.

Some might notice that the box does not lend itself to WatchOS 2’s “Nightstand Mode”. Amber was developed and designed before WatchOS 2 was in the works, and with the development of the product so far down the line, ClearGrass made the decision not to spend funding money on having to redesign and retool to accommodate for the new feature. Does this phase me? No. Will it be a feature others want? Yes, I’m sure it will be.

For me however, this is a product that not only adequately provides a solution for many people, especially whilst traveling, it’s a product that’s been able to replace the power banks I carry.

Pro-Tip:
Keep a short iPhone Cable inside Amber!

Pro Pro-Tip:
Keep a short Mini-USB Cable with an adapter inside Amber!

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