Over the years I’ve had a host of different solutions for file storage, back-up, syncing, and file sharing. I’ve had network-attached storage devices, I’ve had portable USB back-up drives, and I’ve got Dropbox and other online syncing and sharing tools. I also can’t tell you how many pitches we’ve received at GeekDad and GeekMom over the years for dedicated family photo-sharing services hoping to sell subscriptions so you can share every image of your kids with their grandparents across the country or world. After a while, the number of solutions for individual tasks is a bit overwhelming.
Which is why I was very interested to try out the Amber smart storage device when they approached me for a review. Amber seeks to pull all those storage processes together into one device, and keeping it under your roof so there are no subscriptions and, if you choose, none of your data is on a server that’s not in your personal keeping. Oh, and it has a Wi-fi router built in as well.
So, on appearance, it’s a very cool-looking machine, feeling vaguely reminiscent of the last generation Apple Mac Pro. And really, this is a computer; there’s a CPU inside (Intel ® Dual Core Gemini Lake CPU (1.1GHz – 2.6 GHz) if you’re interested), controlling all the features, and there’s a pair of hard disk drives for redundant storage (configured RAID1, but you can change that if you want to maximize available disk space).
On the back, you can see an interesting variety of ports. Because Amber can replace your home Wi-fi router (it has an AC2600 Wi-Fi Router with 4×4 MIMO / Beamforming), there’s ethernet in and out. There are also two USB-C ports, one type-A and one type-C, so you can add other storage devices for additional back-up or moving files elsewhere. And there’s an HDMI port, because Amber can act as your home media server and can cast directly to your TV (or wirelessly via your mobile or desktop apps). It really wants to be the one device to rule them all.
And to that end, here’s an idea of everything Amber can do for you:
- You can connect it to a LatticeNest Cloud Service account (no subscription) for cloud back-ups.
- Use the Amber LiFE for Desktop (Mac OS + Windows) and Amber LiFE Companion App (iOS + Android) software to connect multiple clients to the Amber.
- Perform Camera Roll Auto-Backup to protect all the photos on your smart phone/tablet.
- Use Ez Sync to keep the same files up to date on multiple clients (like Dropbox).
- Use the Ez Backup to protect all the files on your laptop or desktop computers.
- Use Remote and Shared Access to get to your files or share them with others (again, like Dropbox).
- Easily access your files via the software on any of your devices.
- Take advantage of AI-Powered Facial Indexing or organize your important family photos for sharing.
- Use Media Streaming and TV Casting to make Amber your home media center.
That combines the capabilities of something like four products or services into one device that you only have to pay for once. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have some complexity trying to combine all those features.
The best example is that there is one piece of software required for initial setup of the Amber (Amber Manager), but a different app for daily use (Amber Life). Further, if you want to take advantage of the cloud storage features, you need a LatticeNest account. And, to do firmware updates or deal with anything at the core device level, you have to access the on-board Amber OS via web browser when you’re connected to the devices network as a router. So, there is a little bit of a learning curve with Amber, but that’s just because it does so much. At this point, I’ve got key folders from my laptop backed up to Amber, as well as the camera roll from my iPhone, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.
If you’re like me, and you’ve had all these disparate solutions to back-up, sync, and sharing for so many years, it’s actually going to take some planning and effort to switch over to a personal solution. But considering how much money can be saved without subscription fees, and having the greater peace of mind knowing that your data is safe on a device that you control, that effort may well be worth it.
The 2x1TB model of Amber runs $549, and you can double that capacity for another $100. Check them out at MyAmberLife.com.