Amber: Your Personal Hybrid Cloud Storage Platform

The era that we live in is strange. Remember back when we took photos on a camera? This was where all our pictures came from, complete with the inconvenience of development. Back then, most of us organized our pictures into an album, or, to a minimalist degree, a shoebox. Now, our pictures are completely out of the box, on smartphones, tablets, computers, and occasionally…a camera, assuming we even own one. So where does that leave us? A place where we have our pictures, videos, and other memory data…in every place. This is where Amber comes in.

What is Amber?

Amber is a way of automatically gathering photos, videos, music, and any other kinds of documents from household devices. It can do this automatically and store them all in one place, and that place is a digital fortress of solitude for our memories.

You can see in the photo below that there is some hardware involved. In the two photos that I have shown so far, there isn’t really a good feel for the size of this hard drive box. I have been told that the Amber box is over six inches in height, which might seem kind of large, but there is a lot of memory (1 or 2 TB) and a router inside. However, I think that what Amber does is worth a device three times its size.

I had a chance to talk with Dr. Pantas Sutardja, the founder, president, and CEO of Latticework, and creator of Amber, his company’s first product. Considering that the user can access their files from about everywhere thanks to a handy Android and iOS app, I asked if Amber was a “personal cloud”. He told me that he wanted to avoid the term “personal cloud”, but the Amber website calls it “Your Personal Hybrid Cloud Storage Platform”.

Copyright Universal Studios

When I asked why it was called “Amber”, his only response was that the name was bright sounding, and implied that this will preserve people’s memories in Amber. Hey, if it worked for dinosaur blood in Jurassic Park, why not? I’m sure Dr. Hammond would “spare no expense” to put his memories of his grand-kids in a digital file in Amber, along with his dinosaur DNA.

Amber Can Be Used From Anywhere

Okay, I probably extended that Dr. Hammond metaphor way too far. However, do I need to talk about the benefits of Amber? I mean, I’ve got a family, and we all have smart devices that are full of pics, videos and other files. It just makes sense to put in them a place that is secure and centralized. If Amber can do that, more power to it.

Best of all, if I want to show someone a video or photo that is on Amber, I can do it from anywhere that I get cellular phone service or Wi-Fi. All I need to do is open up that application, and I can access whatever photo, video, or any file that I want. Oh did I mention that Amber can hold pretty much any type of digital file? It can. I should also mention that Dr. Sutardja told me that Smart TVs should be compatible with Amber. Oh, and don’t worry about privacy, because you will have that too.

While I am the subject of things about Amber that I like, the slogan is the best: “it’s not just your data, it’s your life”. Now to something else that I need to address, this video:

Okay, I have to say that this video brings up a lot of good things, as it is great to have memories. Then the video gets kind of potentially dark as it appears that the father is not in some of them. Especially when it gets all black and white, he’s wearing a fireman’s uniform, and you hear some radio chatter. Then there is the little kid asking about his father not being in the video. All I could think about was how it gave me the serious “feels” more than a Pixar movie, because I thought the daddy was killed in the line of duty.

I had to admit, it was pretty serious, even, dare I say it, “hardcore”. Fortunately, the father was alive and well, and the mother could do a search for his pics with an image recognition software alone. I will admit that I like that, and makes up for the video’s serious…seriousness.

After all, we all have photos and memories that have the potential of getting lost in our daily routine, and if Amber can put them in a place where they are easily accessible from anywhere, than it has paid for itself. This would be a good time to discuss price.

The Price of Amber

According to the Amber website, the device itself (an appropriate black box) costs about $399.99 (early bird price) for the 1 TB model. An upgrade of another TB is about $250, and should be available in October 2018, just in time for the holidays. Oh, by the way, there are no subscription fees, and it is all private.

We at The Geek Church review a lot of devices during the holiday gift-giving season, and if you have a family in mind, this seems like a perfect gift that you might want to order before the holidays really kick into high gear.

Reviewing the Apollo Cloud and Thunderbolt 3 Dock by Promise Technology

Promise Technology is a computer company based in California that is dedicated to improving storage capabilities for computers and the technology market. We had the opportunity to review two of their products. The 1st one is the Apollo Cloud 2 Duo- a personal Cloud storage system. The 2nd item is the Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

Apollo Cloud 2 Duo

credit: Promise Technology

If you need a massive storage system for files and photos, and don’t want to waste money on a monthly membership to the Cloud or some other on-line system elsewhere, then this is a great system.

It allows 40 users to have their own accounts on it at once, and you can access your content from anywhere and easy to sync from any device to your system from anywhere.

The software is smart, and can recognize faces and sort pictures into individualized albums if you roll like that. If you have Time Machine for macOS, that is supported as well. You can be assured that the info you store is secure with encryption of military grade.

This sleek, white tower measures 5.6 x 7.5 x 2.4 inches and weighs in at 2.64 pounds. It has a glowing light on the front that will change colors based on the status of the device. Thanks to an app you can download for your phone, you can control this light- among other things with some taps.

If you have a router with Gb port, internet connection(high-speed recommended), and a smartphone, tablet or computer, along with the free Promise Apollo Cloud app, you have what you need to get started with this great photo storage system- which you can buy with 4TB or 8TB of storage. The 2 TB model is $199, the 4TB model is $369 , and $449 will buy the extra storage at 8TB.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock

photo credit- Promise Technology

Promise Technology has thrown their hat into the ring with this Thunderbolt 3 Dock (TD-300). We’ve reviewed a Thunderbolt 3 dock from OWC before, and you can see our review of that one here.

This Thunderbolt 3 Dock is $50 cheaper than the one from OWC, but it has less USB 3.0 ports(2 on front, and 3 on back). Still, five is better than the three most docks offer. There is the Gigabit Ethernet port to allow connection to your LAN. An Audio In/Out port gives access to your tunes. The SD 3.0 card reader is also a great feature.

The dock is about the same size and look as other Thunderbolt 3s. This one is 9 x 3 1/2 inches, and about an inch tall, weighing in at about a pound. It has a black matte finish on top, but is glossy on the sides.

Included in the box is the dock, an AC/DC adapter, and a Thunderbolt 3 cable. All other cables that you might need for connections like an HDMI cable is not included.

The dock is easy to use and setup right out of the box. There are no¬†FireWire or eSATA ports like other docks, but these don’t seem to be extremely necessary for most people. The only other downside to this dock is that it only offers 60 watts of charging power, which can be useful, but if you need something more powerful, you will probably be paying more for an 85 watt device.

You can buy this product for about $249 off the Promise Technology website, or online stores like Amazon.com.

Disclaimer- We received both of these models for free to review by Promise Technology. No other compensation has been received for this fair and unbiased review.

Save Your Memories With the Kwilt Shoebox

You have so many pictures and videos on your cell phone that you’ve run out of space for them all? What can you do about it? The Kwilt Shoebox may be the perfect solution to your photo storage problems.

photo credit- Kwilt

Kwilt is a great alternative to paying for the Cloud, or running out of room on Dropbox. Instead of a monthly subscription that is required for the Cloud, you can buy the Kwilt Shoebox for $59 on Amazon.com. It retails for $69 if you buy it off the Kwilt website.

Opening the box, you will find your Kwilt Shoebox, a power cord, a USB adapter and an HDMI adapter. It’s pretty easy to setup for the first time. You will need to download the app made for iOS or Android. You will connect to the Kwilt wifi before trying to transfer your pictures, but once connected, you’ll be able to transfer your photos whether you are at home, or away.

Now, the Kwilt doesn’t have unlimited storage on the actual shoebox. You’ll eventually transfer photos to a USB drive or your hard drive or whatever, but it is a really affordable way to be able to keep your originals photos in high res size. You can also save your photos to your hard drive from anywhere with the app.

The HDMI adapter also allows for easy viewing on your television, which is a great feature!

Here’s the video to show how easy it is to set up:

As a family who loves to take pictures on our phones, we would recommend this product for others who love to do the same.

Disclaimer- Kwilt sent us this product for free in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.