OK, I concede that the Chumby isn’t a necessity for anyone’s home network. But it’s one of those gadgets that’s so unusually fun and useful that you gotta have it. Of course, as is the case with many unusually fun devices, it’s wildly overpriced at $179.95.
The Chumby is a Wi-Fi-connected alarm clock on steroids. The little guy measures 4x5x3 (HWD) inches and shaped like a small beanbag with a 3.5-inch LCD on front. It is decked out in a soft leather casing that’s available in three tastefully descriptive hues: black, latte, and pearl. On the back of the Chumby you’ll find the power jack for the AC adapter, a stereo earphone jack, power switch, 2-watt stereo speakers, and two USB ports.
Besides its alarm clock features, the Chumby serves up the Internet at a glance, with content that includes streaming radio stations, videos, news, weather, and entertainment. Chumby has announced content partnerships with CBS, MTV Networks, MySpace, The Weather Channel, AOL's SHOUTcast, and Scripps Networks. You can also share and view photos over sites such as MySpace, flickr, Facebook and Photobucket. But it’s the flash-based widgets that enable the Chumby to become whatever you (and developers) want it to be.
To get started, you connect the device to your Wi-Fi network, then create a content channel and add widgets from the Chumby gallery. Hundreds of widgets are already available to deliver refreshed content in categories such as such as music, games, movie previews, customized alarm clocks, special offers, and more. For instance, you can install a widget that displays your Gmail, eBay auction updates, daily horoscope, status updates from Facebook, sports scores, YouTube clips and more.
These widgets give the Chumby an almost limitless potential. Who knows if it will be a hit or merely hype, but it sure looks like a lot of fun from here.