chumby – a review… finally!

February 6th, 2008

Originally published at [ every moment ]. You can comment here or there.

IMG_5857 so now that i’ve had my chumby for a while now, i’m finally getting the chance to write a review about it, so here goes nothing -)

first off, let me explain a little bit about the concept of the chumby. the official chumby website explains it as “your personal internet player. there’s always something good on.” but i didn’t really understand what that meant at first either. basically it looks like an oversized hackie sack, with wi-fi, speakers, usb ports, a touch screen and a motion sensor built in. you plug it in, activate it, and let it run flash-based widgets. it’s all set up to be open-source in software and hardware… so all in all, you can basically make it into what you want it to be.

IMG_5862 so how does it work? well it’s pretty simple to set up. you activate it by visiting, pairing it up to your account (similar to how you pair up a bluetooth headset to your phone… you only have to do it once and then they can talk to each other) and then setting up channels. a channel is basically a loop of widgets. you can put as many or as few of these widgets in a channel as you want, and you can create as many channels as you want as well. and then you can have this thing on your desk, your night stand, whatever. also built into the chumby is a clock (which automatically gets its time via internet), and alarm clock, and even a music player (just plug your ipod in, and let it play music through it’s speakers, while charging your ipod at the same time)

so.. what are my thoughts about my chumby? was it a good use of $175 off my paycheck? i believe so. i really enjoy the idea of this. i’ve found some really great widgets, heck i even really like it as an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. -) (and actually, i’ve spent more on an alarm clock before, with less features… so for me $175 was a very reasonable price for this technology) i also like being a part of the “early adapters” group, when i can afford it. but some things i noticed so far that IMG_5861 need improvement. 1) if you have a lot of songs on your ipod (which i do) it will ‘hang’ on that because the music player is too heavy for the little processor of the chumby. this fault has been noted on the message boards, and i’m sure they are working on a “lighter” music player to address this.. so i’m not worried. 2) also sometimes the chumby freezes up on a processor intensive widget. which is fine, since the thing isn’t meant to be a “processing powerhouse” by any means… but that does point out the limits of the widgets that you can use for the chumby. 3) if you are in a wireless network that requires that you log in via a browser (not one that has a password to join the network, but one that you physically have to open up a browser and log in) you’ll run into problems joining that to the network. because there is no real “browser”, it doesn’t allow you to log into a website. you can easily set it up on most wireless networks though, and then, even when there is a password on the network, you can have it IMG_5858remember your network profiles and log in automatically.

with that all said, i think it’s an amazing little device, and a great idea. the construction is great (it’s even fallen out of my loft a couple times, and just bounces back… what a little trooper -) ) and the widgets are way fun. i’ve found that i really enjoy the traffic widget, weather bug widget, and even a couple games. i also enjoy the flickr widgets (there are a couple of them, from what i’ve found) as well as the twitter widgets (there’s at least two of those as well) so even if you wanted to just use this to display random pictures from your flickr account it’s still worth the money! (heck, digital picture frames are gonna cost you $60-250 anyways.. and there you’re limited to what’s on the card in the frame.) i enjoy the fact that it is very “open” in it’s creation, so many people are jumping on board and helping create great widgets and improvements to the chumby. all the widgets and updates are free, so you really can’t go wrong by buying now. it’s also very easy to learn, and very low maintenance, since it can just go and entertain itself all day -)

so that’s my review on the chumby. thanks to the chumby people for creating a great product, i’m happy with my chumby, who’s name is “chumby wumpus”, btw. (you know.. like that old game hunt the wumpus, that i used to play on my old texas instrument gaming system… maaan that game scared me. but i digress)


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