HyperCube Wireless Charging Station and Sleep Aid
HyperCube Wireless Charging Station offers a unique take on the alarm clock and charger. The transformer of a device charger wins with three 10W fast charging pads. Unfortunately, its other features, like alarm, and sleep sounds get short shrift compared to charging, stack design, and hinges. At $169.95 there are less expensive 3-device charges without the unnecessary or poorly implemented features.
I first saw Ampere’s $169.95 HyperCube Wireless Charging Stations and Sleep Aid at a CES 2020 press event. The gangly transformer of a charger emerged from a successful indigogo campaign like some alien artifact from an alternative universe where solid asserted a subjective note. In use, it sometimes seems that its various elements were actually made for human consumption.
What we like
The three charging pads prove the absolute best feature of the HyperCube Wireless Charging Station. Little feet pop-out to help hold devices pitched along the charger’s side panels.
Transformability would best describe HyperCube’s design intent. It stacks, it becomes a cube, and it transforms into a pyramidal shape when placed upon the optional Bluetooth® speaker (not reviewed). The front offers a multifunction clock, including sleep sounds, and other controls (see commentary on what could be improved below).
Opposite the clock, the LED offers a needed feature, as I like an on-demand light that isn’t my phone (without yelling to Alexa to turn on a light, or relying on some other WiFi-enabled thing). That said, the LED panel doesn’t deliver on its value as it needs way to turn it on and control it.
The auxiliary USB-C output proves useful for non-Qi charging devices like iPads. That the device uses USB-C as its base wired choice is a good one.
The accompanying 60W power supply brings adequate power to the HyperCube Wireless Charging Station with a minimalist footprint on power strips.
The compactness of the 3 charging pads works well. However, it fills roughly the same space as the mophie wireless Charging Stand+ which delivers 3-device charging without frustrating features and at a lower price.
If positive features by surface area determined the overall rating, the Ampere HyperCube Charging Station would have received 5 stars. Unfortunately, the implementation of the HyperCube’s details, often implemented in very tiny ways, erode the quality of the design.
What could be improved
As with many ambitious innovations, the details work themselves out in the market as designers receive feedback about features that don’t fulfill customer needs in quite the ways imagined. My evaluation of the HyperCube Wireless Charging Station found several areas where improvement would increase usefulness and value.
Here is a list of the areas where Ampere could use a little more feature finesse:
- Larger features buttons with images that more clearly represent the feature. This issue makes it hard to use the features like alarms and sleep sounds. It is impossible to see where the buttons are even after memorizing the sequence and general position of the buttons in the dark.
- Longer delay on feature button lights. I found this the most irritating issue, as I had to keep tapping the buttons to get the lights to come on to figure out which button to push, but I often found myself pushing the wrong button in an attempt to just get the lights to come back on. I would suggest a long push on the dimmer switch to make the buttons remain on, but as I’m about to point out, the display panel does not include a dimmer for the clock.
- A dimmer for the clock. I don’t like light in my face. I other clocks, like the Home iBTW39 that currently sits on my nightstands as my default clock charger, dims the clock to off, which is its default.
- HyperCube would benefit from Bluetooth for feature control.
- The flat configuration, which I see more as sprawl, doesn’t make much sense to me. I get that because of the cube nature deconstructing the cube into flat components becomes a default configuration, but it takes up a lot of room without adding anything to the experience.
- Nature sounds are basic and repetitive.
It took me several minutes to figure out how to snap (or attract) the charger together, and then a bit more time to figure out the power input and output. Once properly assembled everything makes sense, but guidance on the charger itself is minimal, and even when given, proves cryptic (such as the icons for power which are just arrows pointing in or out of a panel next to a USB port. Some might argue obvious, but I wasn’t sure if the arrows were about pulling apart the device or not. My assumption on power was pick the one that fit your desktop configuration. They would do dual duty as input or output. My assumption was false.)
Ampere needs to spend time rethinking its secondary features. As I recently argued on another multi-function device (see the LumiCharge Lamp review), I’m not convinced that anyone requires multifunction features on devices so clearly associated with smartphones. From nature sounds to the sound and light alarm clock, the smartphone does it better, so why include a poorer version to complicate the design.
I would rather see a Bluetooth speaker in the base product, with a big fat button to manage the LED panel with dimming and color options. I don’t need sounds or alarms of any kind. I need power, improved sound, and an on-demand night light, which are features not available on a smartphone. The clock face can stay, but ideally, it would be tied to the smartphone for synchronization and not require manual setting. Editing features brings down cost and complication. The HyperCube would benefit from an edit.
HyperCube Wireless Charging Station and Sleep Aid: The Bottom Line
Ampere had a vision, and they achieved that vision with broad strokes. Their HyperCube Wireless Charger and Sleep Station folds and squares. It lies flat and fast charges three devices. It also offers a frustrating bevy of features better left to the smartphones it aims to charge.
Additional features like a power bank and speaker base are available from Ampere.
Ampere provided the HyperCube Wireless Charger and Sleep Station for review.
Images courtesy of Ampere.
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