Chumby internet-connected alarm clock
Widget-tastic bedside companion
Review The Chumby is one of those strange little gadgets that defies easy categorisation. If we absolutely had absolutely to try to sum it up in half a dozen or so words, it would be: Wi-Fi internet radio alarm clock with widget support.
Chumby: internet-connected, squeezable blob
This description applies to a 150 x 100 x 80mm blob with a 3.5in, 320 x 240 touchscreen on the front. We say 'blob' because most of top, sides and back are covered with squeezable padded leather - real animal hide, not plastic. Squeezing the sides has no effect other than to relieve pent-up tension, but press the top and the Chumby's only external control is triggered. It takes you to the main menu screen.
Around the back you'll find a couple of 2W speakers, two USB ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, the on/off switch and power jack. The Chumby is mains powered so you need to keep it plugged in though there's a back-up battery for the alarm in case of power cuts.
The Chumby's LCD looks crisp, colourful and bright and though it's resistive rather than capacitive, the basic-but-functional UI is slick and well judged with even the lightest of finger touches always registering first time.
Once you have fired your Chumby up and hooked it into your Wi-Fi network, your first stop is likely to be the music menu. This gives you direct access to SHOUTcast, Pandora – for US users only - and a selection of stations grouped together as Radio Free Chumby which immediately got our approval by having Radio Paradise in the number one slot. Podcast fans can access content from Mediafly, CBS and the New York Times.
The USB ports can be used to feed music to the Chumby, but not pics or videoes
If none of that takes your fancy, you can add your own radio stations as long as they come in the form of MP3, Ogg, M3U or PLS streams. It's worth pointing out that when it came to trying to get hold of anything from the BBC, we failed horribly. Look on the Chumby forums and you will see some folk claim to get around this by hooking up their Chumby to a Squeezebox Server. But try as we might, we couldn't get our Chumby and server to converse. Not being able to access BBC radio may well be a deal breaker for many potential buyers over here.
"It would be quite reasonable to...
... dismiss the Chumby as a toy or as the answer to a question nobody asked""
I think i'll do just that
>"2. Please link to that (in a useful manner) internet enabled Argos alarm clock for GBP6."
That's not how you read English. Here, let me show you:
>We say 'affluent' because the Chumby retails for £140, which seems a lot for an alarm clock radio - a cheap-as-chips one will cost you six quid from Argos - even one that can present internet-sourced info.
The bit in the middle there separated by hyphens is an interjection. It's like putting something in brackets; it stands alone as a separate but related comment, and the main sentence should be read on through as if it weren't there. Think of it as an inline footnote:
>We say 'affluent' because the Chumby retails for £140, which seems a lot for an alarm clock radio(*), even one that can present internet-sourced info.
>(*) a cheap-as-chips one will cost you six quid from Argos.
See? The sentence only says that a cheap-as-chips alarm clock costs six quid; it's saying that £140 quid is a lot for an alarm clock, even despite the fact that (*unlike* the six quid jobbie) it can "present internet-sourced info".
Pip pip old bean!
No BBC radio
..... makes it reasonably useless as a clock radio replacement.
No BBC? No hope
As you say, a wireless that won't get test match special is not worth having.
I was looking into importing one of these from the US quite a while back, what turned me off of the idea was I found out about the adverts that are placed on your chumby. Yes, that's right, adverts which you cannot turn off right there on your night stand! I'm surprised the reg did not mentioned this. Of course the adverts may be localised to the US only - though even so I feel it is a point worth mentioning. As I feel that potential purchasers may like to hear that in the future chumby may turn on the "feature" to add adverts to their device, to which one cannot opt out. The line that chumby take is that if you use their widgets then you have to put up with their adverts. Check out the chumby for more.