Ember Ceramic Mug and Ember Travel Mug reviews: Smart at home, less so on the road


I have a lot of smart things in my home: lights, plugs, thermostats, locks, and, of course, phones. But the smartest of them all might be the Ember Ceramic Mug.

All of those other devices require some level of direction to work. I need to answer the doorbell. I have to turn on the lights. I need to summon the assistant on my Amazon Echo or Google Home. But the Ember Mug just works. Each morning I used it just like I would a normal mug—without talking to it or launching an app.

And it did exactly what it was supposed to do every time: keep my coffee hot. That might sound like an overly simple task for a mug with a sky-high price tag, but it could be the smartest purchase you’ll make all year.

A great ‘dumb’ mug too

Ember has put some serious thought into the design of the Ceramic Mug, and even if it wasn’t equipped with precision temperature control, it would still be an excellent vessel. Despite its name, Ember’s mug is actually made of stainless steel with a ceramic coating, and it has a comfortable handle with a nice bit of heft, so it’s equally comfortable when picked up like a glass or a mug.

ember ceramic mug base Michael SImon/IDG

When the Ember Ceramic Mug glows red, it won’t keep your drink warm any longer.

Its androgynous nature extends to the rim as well, which feels more like a glass than a mug when you drink from it. I tested the 14-ounce model, and while it’s a touch taller than usual mugs of that size due to the heating coil that occupies a bit of space below the liquid, it strikes a nice balance between too big and too small.

The mug has a decidedly minimal aesthetic, and as such, it’s only available in matte black or white. An understated Ember logo and a small customizable LED round out the design, which will look at home in any kitchen cabinet. You’ll find a power/pairing button on the bottom of the mug, but after you hold it down to pair it with your phone, you probably won’t need to press it again (unless you lose the connection with your phone, which happened to me a couple of times).

The right temperature every time

As a regular mug, the Ember Ceramic Mug might be worth around $30, but it costs $100 more than that. Flip it over and you can see why: Rather than a rubber pad, the bottom of the Ember Ceramic Mug features a pair of circular copper coils for charging. Pop it on the bundled stand and it will begin to charge, and in about 90 minutes, it will be fully charged and ready for your beverage.

ember ceramic mug rim Michael SImon/IDG

The Ember Ceramic Mug has a nice wide opening with a comfortable rim.

Take it off the charger, fill it up, and return it to the stand. You read that right: you can set a specific degree that you want your coffee to remain at, and the Ember Mug will keep it there. You needn’t worry that the mug will overheat: The heating element is weight-sensitive, so it doesn’t kick on unless there’s liquid in the mug to heat up.



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