Gadgetell Review: Chumby One

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Gadgetell reviews the Chumby One

I was wrong. Back in 2008, I wasn’t particularly kind to Chumby’s first offering. Back then, the reviews all tip-toed around that idea that no one really needed it and the whole idea wasn’t ready for prime-time. Since then, the Chumby widget center has grown substantially and the company has released a follow up device, dubbed the Chumby One.

This past Mother’s Day, I seized the opportunity to finally get the WiFi-connected Chumby One into my house. Here is what I thought of the device.

What’s it for?

Tough question because it can do a lot of things pretty well. It’s up to the individual. For me, the device replaces my stupid alarm clock; you know the one that not matter what station I tune to at night, it morphs into a static-laden Spanish station by dawn. Adios dumb alarm clock.

As an alarm clock, it is amazing. The alarms are set as individual functions. Users have complete control over what an alarm does, how long/loud/bright,what to wake to, how long the snooze is, and what happens after. I have an alarm that is silent – only changing the brightness to dim in the evening. The ability for my wife to hit the snooze button for a pre-programmed 20 minutes saves her adjusting the old dumb alarm clock in the middle of the night – which always woke me up. This simple feature alone is worth the entry price.

Waking to Pandora instead of that static Spanish station puts me in a better mood (and removed the random Mexican food cravings).

It does more than get me out of bed

So that covers the reason I bought it. I’ve also found the widgets are pretty cool. Users can download widgets from Chumby that the unit will cycle through (at user-controlled intervals). Widgets like Facebook, Twitter, The Weather Channel, various other clocks, news and tons more. Seeing these freshly updated items, thanks to it’s WiFi connectivity, is helping my day. I know the weather before grabbing my iPhone or cruising by the TV. Even more, it’s a great Pandora player. Users can have the internet radio station play their style of music all day long, througha decent sounding speaker, if desired while the Chumby rotates widgets automatically.

I can easily see this in the kitchen, office, den, even bathroom. One widget I really love is Picassa that turns Chumby into a digital picture frame. Seeing images from our last family vacation is always welcome.

Chumby can also be turned into an online video player, internet router, gaming console and thousands of other things via the widget platform.

Back away from the Chumby

One of the surprises I’ve had with Chumby is from my kids. They are always in there playing with Chumby. One of the default widgets is a doodling pad and the kids have been mastering the touchscreen making funny faces for us to see. The kids easily navigate the entire device, figured out how to set alarms and get into a widget they wanted all on their own. That usability speaks to just how easy it is to love this device.

Judging the book by the cover

When I gave the gift to my wife, she was as hesitant as I was back in 2008. She shook her head and gave me the “what the heck do we need another gadget for?” look. I am pleased to report that her attitude has done a 180 and she now is tapping on Chumby’s face almost as much as the kids. It’s become a welcome member of the family.

Chumby, the WiFi connected widget machine, $119, available now.

Product page: [Chumby]

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