If you told me that I needed an bluetooth connected travel mug that has a built in heat regulator in it… I’d say welcome to 2018. In a world already filled with endless connected devices, including coffee machines and crockpots that can be controlled via app, far too many things suck down our bandwidth and in many cases it simply doesn’t make sense. So when I was pitched to check out the new Ember Travel Mug I laughed a good bit, but was quickly convinced to check it out after disrupting a meeting with said laughter.
I mean it’s a travel mug, it connects to your phone via bluetooth, it maintains the temperature of your heated beverage, and it costs about $150. Ember even uses wireless charging, and this just became the most first-world thing I’ve seen in a long time. But then I used it and it works so damn well, and now I have an IoT mug laughing at me (not really). It’s certainly not without its flaws, so I put it to the test of my forgetful nature, up against a YETI tumbler, and my regular routine to see if its worth your money.
As this is the first review with our new system, you can see the scoring (Google Sheet) we used when digging into Ember’s travel mug. It’s our way of adding a bit of objectivity between IoT devices, and we have similar systems for other tech. Think we should tweak the system? Reach out and let us know or leave a comment.
Ember Travel Mug Review
Unboxed and Setup
If there is one thing that hurts new tech the most it’s the setup process. Have to connect to wifi or bluetooth? Negative one point. Build something? Negative five points. Have to ask your kid to do it for you? Case of beer. Being a travel mug, if there was any burdensome setup process this would have been a total joke, but as you’ll quickly notice the app and bluetooth connection is entirely optional. In fact it was during the setup process that made me curious as to why they really even included bluetooth connectivity and an app, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
The Ember Travel Mug works right out of the box.
Plain and simple the Ember Travel Mug works right out of the box. You press the logo, it turns on, and then you turn the dial at the base to have it start regulating your drink’s temperature. If you want to get fancy and manage it through your phone, just walkthrough the Bluetooth setup process, which is as simple as any other bluetooth setup.
Heating Your Drinks and Other Features
Coffee is best served between 120 – 140 degrees so you get the best flavor possible, and it should retain enough heat for casual sipping. Tea on the other hand can range anywhere from 150 – 180 degrees. Ember can retain a perfect temperature of up to 145° F, which is perfect for coffee; however, if you’re looking for piping hot tea, it falls short. That said, I can’t tell you how many times I have been pulled away from my desk for a meeting only to realize I left coffee there, leaving behind a terrible lukewarm mix that goes to waste. And yes, you can microwave it, but that’s not my thing.
As for longevity, the Ember Travel Mug will last two hours or so depending on what temperature you have it maintaining your drink. According to them that’s about two, one hour drinking sessions. Personally I have the wireless pad nearby anyways so that’s less of an issue in an office setting, but important for long commutes.
- Temperature range: 120° F – 145° F
- Charging: Wireless
- Connectivity: Optional Bluetooth
- Battery Life: Two hours
- App Support: iOS, Apple Watch, Android
Ember Versus YETI
I also put the Ember up against my trusty YETI tumbler, and as expected in the long-run the Ember reigned king. For the first 15 minutes YETI was able to keep up without a problem, and in fact it retains heat wonderfully; however, thanks to Ember’s internal battery and ability to constantly regulate the temp it was able to hold out longer. You can see the full non-scientific comparison in the video review.
Design, Durability, and Cleaning
Travel mugs all more or less look the same. They are tall or wide, have insulation to keep things warm, and typically fit in your cup holder. The Ember Travel Mug looks just like the others, but with a sleek matte finish, a hidden touch button, a discrete temperature dial, and a hidden LED display. The touch button seems to be a bit wonky when your hand is cold, but otherwise works well and is easy to use – especially when its limited to on/off and function – and the dial is just as simple. My favorite part on this thing is the hidden LED display that acts sort of like a scrolling marquee banner. You can even customize it so that you get a personal greeting as you turn it on.
If you have a travel mug it’s probably filled with a few dents, maybe a chip, and definitely a few missing lids. While the Ember Travel Mug hasn’t found a way to prevent you from forgetting where the push-lid ends up, it certainly can take the typical beating. I did a few drop tests and it had no issues after the fact. However, I would imagine with prolonged wear and tear on the mug it may have some issues later on.
On cleaning, it works like most high-end mugs. You wash it by hand people. The lid can go in the dishwasher, but you can survive a quick rinse at the sink. Also, since it uses wireless charging you need to keep in mind that it can’t be wet at all before it goes on the dock.
The one major flaw I see with this mug is its connectivity. Blame its great built-in user interface or just the lack of app features, but I simply don’t see value in the Bluetooth connection. There is nothing you can do on the app… or yes even Apple Watch app that you can’t do on the mug. Sure, you can create one-press presets on the app, but it takes no time to turn the temperature dial either. We gave the mug a ding on this simply due to it being of no real value added. Outside of that the apps well well and are insanely easy to use.
- Capacity: 12oz.
- Weight: 1lb
- Size: 8 x 3.12 x 2.75 inches
- IPX7 rated (fully submersible underwater)
- Cleaning: hand wash body, dishwasher safe lid
There really isn’t much as far as competition for the Ember Travel Mug. There is a seemingly defunct Nano heated mug that came out a few years ago and there are some cheap ones that are powered through a car adapter, but otherwise it’s on its own. As a result that makes this the best smart travel mug on the market at this time.
Should you buy the Ember Travel Mug? If you’re tired of lukewarm coffee on your long commute or in the office, then certainly. It works well, it’s easy to use, and looks great. However, and I don’t think anyone will disagree here, the Bluetooth connectivity is just there and not really needed.