Chumby Industries Chumby
A soft, cuddly, killing machine.
- Easy to use, very capable hardware, open-source hardware and software, extremely hackable and expandable
- Low resolution screen, touch screen is slightly unresponsive
There’s room for improvement but the Chumby is a very capable device in its own right. However, software and hardware hacks from users will make the Chumby all the more fun and useful.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Until now Internet widgets have been shackled to the computer; they've generally been mildly amusing gimmicks that only occasionally prove useful. Chumby hopes to change this, freeing widgets from their PC overlord and making them an integral part of the user’s daily life at the bedside, in a lounge room or on a desk at the office. To a large extent, the Chumby succeeds; its success globally means there is a large, established developer community for Australian newcomers to plug into.
Covered in what looks like the left-over leather from Fonzie’s jacket, the Chumby isn’t very attractive at first glance. It retains a certain "cuddly factor" that makes the device more approachable, and its size makes it easy to place anywhere in the modern home without drawing too much attention. For those who can’t handle the Happy Days look, there are additional skins for the Chumby available for $39 each from Internode.
Under the unattractive leather, the Chumby’s guts are definitely capable. The unit boasts a touch screen and an accelerometer (cue iPhone comparisons), while the 802.11g Wi-Fi adapter supports most common security protocols, including WEP, WPA and WPA2 with AES encryption. A 350MHz processor drives the Chumby, with 64MB of storage for caching widgets. Two external USB ports allow users to plug in an iPod to charge and play or a USB drive to save settings.
The Chumby’s cuteness extends beyond its design and into its user interface. Set up and activation, for example, is a simplified process which uses a mini-game to sync the Chumby to the appropriate online account. Once done, the “chumbification” process begins through the Chumby Web site, which allows users to easily add or remove widgets, customise individual settings and create new “channels” in order to organise widgets into categories. Apart from widget deletion, which can be done on the Chumby itself, most configuration options are only available through the Web site, with the Chumby automatically or manually syncing to the server to reflect user changes.
The Chumby has some restrictive hardware specifications. It offers a hardware resolution of 320x240, which tends to affect detailed pictures when they are scaled down for the device. In particular, the ever-popular “I Can Has Cheezburger” widget suffers from this low resolution.
The touch screen is also slightly flawed. The screen seems optimised for use with a stylus, making regular use a chore for people with large fingers. There are exceptions — swiping across photos for example — where the touch screen is slightly more responsive to fingers, but in general users may become frustrated by having to push harder on the screen. Chumby Industries promises improvements in the 2009 hardware refresh of the Chumby, so late adopters may have a better experience.
While widgets are the star of the Chumby party, there is also plenty of integrated software to keep the user going. Apart from the obligatory alarm clock function, there is also a comprehensive music widget, which gives users access to music files on an iPod or USB flash drive, as well as the ability to access Internet radio stations and music discovery services like Pandora. These functions all worked well and were quite fast, though the iPod widget's lack of support for the iPhone 3G is disappointing.
The Chumby’s potential lies in the usefulness of the widgets available. Thankfully, with the device officially available in the US since February 2008, Australian’s aren’t stuck with a soft brick. Users can access an established database of useful widgets that serve any number of different purposes. Unsurprisingly, the amount of local content available is somewhat limited, but as the Chumby becomes widely available and garners support from users, the number of Australia-specific widgets is bound to grow.
It is hard to properly assess a device that is so dependent on the community for success. From what we’ve seen of the community at the moment, as well as its potential for even more growth, it is clear that the Chumby is more than a toy: it's a useful tool that is open to expansion.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 3 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 4 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Griffin's PowerMate is the Surface Dial dead-ringer that's trapped in Mac land
- Take a ride on Positron’s Voyager, a full-motion chair for VR cinema
- Intel showed how 5G networking will power VR and self-driving cars
- Sony's Android-powered Xperia projector turns any flat surface into a touch screen
- IBM's hub for wearables could have you out of the hospital faster
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- Ring Video Doorbell review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCHSE Reporting Analyst - TelcoVIC
- FTRAN SMEOther
- FTVoice Solution Engineer - Telecommunications (Unified Comms)Other
- FTSenior .NET DevelopersOther
- FTDigital ProducerOther
- FTSystems EngineerOther
- TPActive Directory AdministratorACT
- CCSAP MM Functional ConsultantVIC
- FTNetwork Engineer - IP routing & switchingOther
- CCTechnical Delivery Lead - BillingVIC
- CCTest Manager - Business IntelligenceNSW
- CCSenior Network ArchitectVIC
- CCNetezza DeveloperNSW
- TPAnalyst ProgrammerSA
- FTSplunk Software Developer | 6mth ContractOther
- FTProject CoordinatorACT
- FTFull Stack DeveloperNSW
- FTProject CoordinatorSA
- FTSenior Agile ConsultantOther
- TPSenior Business AnalystQLD
- FTService Desk Analyst - Level 1 SupportQLD
- FTICT Programme Director – Adelaide Delivery CentreSA
- FTMaster SchedulerACT
- FTSnr Java DeveloperVIC
- TPData Migration ManagerNSW