Ember Travel Mug review:


The Good The Ember Travel Mug precisely controls its beverage temperature. It has an alluring, distinctive design.

The Bad It’s outrageously expensive and doesn’t hold much liquid. Away from its charger it retains heat for two hours or less. It uses a proprietary charging system.

The Bottom Line Don’t get burned by the Ember mug’s flashy temperature tech and insanely high price.

There’s a goldilocks zone for sipping hot beverages. Coffee or tea that’s just out of the brewer will scald your tongue. And lukewarm drinks aren’t as satisfying as they could be. The $150 Ember Travel Mug ($149.95 at Amazon.com) is designed to solve this first-world dilemma. The container uses sophisticated electronics and clever engineering to actively regulate its internal heat. The ability lets the Ember warm and cool liquid to a precise temperature you specify.

The good news is that the Ember actually works. The bad news, besides its outrageously steep price, is that it doesn’t work for long. Away from its powered cradle the Ember quickly runs out of juice, and heat. The 12-ounce container doesn’t hold much, either. Both are serious flaws in any travel mug no matter how fancy. So unless you like pouring money down the drain, you’re better off sticking with an ordinary $20 thermal mug.

At first glance the Ember Travel Mug may look like an ordinary single-serve thermos. On closer inspection it quickly becomes clear that this vessel is anything but commonplace. Tall and slender, the mug has an exterior that’s all black. About a third of the way down its length the Ember tapers to an even thinner width. This change in diameter is subtle but important. The mug narrows slightly above where your fingers naturally fall and helps to stabilize your grip.

The Ember’s matte surface also works to reduce slippage. It’s entirely devoid of gloss, reflections or fingerprints. The surface feels comfortable, too, and it also wicks away moisture from clammy paws. I also like the cap at the mug’s top center. It sports a slick, spring-loaded lid you push to open and close. You can drink it from any direction.

This is one dense cup, though. The Ember weighs a hefty 1 pound when empty. Filled to its full 12-ounce (0.35 L ) capacity that figure rises to 1.75 pounds. It’s a handful for sure.

The Ember sits on a “coaster” cradle that charges its battery.

The second piece of the Ember beverage system is its charging coaster. Flat and rectangular, the pad is also black with a matching matte skin. A receptacle on top of the coaster both accepts the Travel Mug and charges its battery. Be advised that the coaster’s mug interface (tiny metal contacts) and the coaster’s power cord are proprietary.

That’s a shame. It would be extremely useful if you could charge the Ember wirelessly like you would a phone. You might already own one of these universal charging pads already. The technology is also working its way into cars, furniture and even home countertops. As it stands, your only options for charging the mug in multiple locations (say, at home and again at the office) is to carry the coaster with you or buy an extra one for another $40.

You start to use the Ember Travel Mug as you would any cup. Unscrew the top and pour your drink inside. At this point things get interesting. The “ember” logo on the face of the mug is really a touch-sensitive button. Touching it for five seconds powers the device on and off. A quick logo tap activates a small screen of white LEDs. The display is near the bottom of the mug and recessed beneath its surface.

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