I think I expected too much of the Trident Valet, but now that we’ve gotten past our initial squabbling, I think we’ll be just fine.
The Apple Watch stand/case/charger, which has its own self-contained charger and an auxiliary port that lets you power up a second device while you top off your watch, will not replace your day-to-day charging setup. But it isn’t supposed to, and once you get past that, you’ll appreciate the Valet for what it is: A good-looking, convenient way to charge your devices on the go.
And if that’s all you need from it, you’ll be really happy together.
The Valet sells for $69.99, and it won’t take up much room on your nightstand. And that’s a pretty great quality for a travel accessory to have, obviously, but it packs a lot of functionality into its small profile. But let’s be shallow and talk about looks first.
The lower half holds all of the guts, and it looks and feels great. The base is wrapped in leather, and the top surface has a nice, velvety plush fabric on it. The charge indicator lights on the front and the button that activates them blend in great when they aren’t in use and light up a bright, pretty green when they are. And the two ports on the side — a standard USB and a micro-USB for the cable that charges the internal battery — remain inconspicuous and don’t fudge up the Valet’s clean profile.
That’s the bottom part, anyway; the rest of it gets a bit dodgy.
For one, the arm that holds your Apple Watch’s charging puck is perfectly functional, but it’s also made of some fairly thin plastic and will wobble if you wiggle it. This wouldn’t be a huge issue anywhere else on the case, but this is the one part that’s going to see the most traffic from putting on and removing the Apple Watch, and it would be great if it felt a little sturdier.
The clear plastic case feels sturdy enough and snaps into place with a satisfying thunk, but it doesn’t always play well with that arm. That piece pivots up and down (by design); I think the idea is that you can pull it up to slide on your Apple Watch and then lower it out of the lid’s way. And that works fine provided you can get your charging cord, which fits inside a groove on the back of the arm, to go along with this whole process. Otherwise, your watchband will smoosh up against the top of the case, and the setup won’t look as great as the Valet’s designers intended.
Back on that lid, though: When it’s open, it has a smart little notch for you to rest your iPhone in while it’s charging. That notch works best if you don’t have a huge case on your phone; it didn’t care much for the OtterBox Commuter my 5s is rocking, but it still fit. But a naked iPhone fits perfectly and keeps your incoming notifications visible.
The Valet takes about an hour to fill, and then it has about enough juice to charge your Apple Watch and iPhone together twice. You’ll get more mileage if you’re only charging one device at a time, obviously, and the Valet automatically shuts off to save energy once both things stop drawing.
These are all great features for a travel device, which is how the Valet is marketed, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one charging hub for daily use, it won’t be the most convenient option because you’ll still have to top off the stand. You could keep it plugged in, I guess, but that really undercuts the whole self-contained/cord-free thing the designers are going for.
So if you’re thinking of grabbing this, don’t expect it to just sit on your nightstand spewing out power for days on end without asking for anything. But if you stay in a lot of hotels, this is a way better option than trying to figure out where the hell places keep their outlets.
Trident provided Cult of Mac a free Valet for this review.