Chumby Industries Chumby (2009)
The 2009 Chumby is a hackable touch-screen-equipped device that hosts widgets.
- Cute design, tinkering encouraged by manufacturer, good quality screen
- A bit expensive, not much difference compared to the 2008 model, no battery
The 2009 Chumby is a small and attractive device with a 3.5in touch screen for hosting Web widgets. It requires a power point and Internet connection to use. The growing online community and the ability for aspiring programmers to create new widgets make it worthwhile.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
The 2009 Chumby is an attractive leather-wrapped device with a 3.5in touch screen that is designed to host Web widgets, play music, entertain and inform. It requires a wireless connection to the Internet, needs a power point to operate and costs $349, but the growing community of widget makers makes it an interesting bit of tech. It has an operating system based on the open source Linux kernel, offering aspiring (or accomplished) programmers the chance to hack the device.
Widgets are essentially mini-applications. Although they used to be little more than Web-tickers and basic clocks, widgets have developed to the point where they've moved from being a side-act on a computer's desktop to centre stage. From Dilbert cartoons to satellite maps, simple games and news tickers, a wide variety of things can be displayed on the Chumby.
At its most basic level, the Chumby is a shell for these widgets. By using the on-board memory and Internet connection, the Chumby hosts widgets and lets users interact with them. If you want to add widgets to the Chumby, you must create a profile on the manufacturer's Web site, register the device online and then create one or more "channels" for widgets to be downloaded to the Chumby. Although it sounds like a time-consuming process, it's actually fairly simple and new users will be registered and running quite quickly.
Chumby Industries encourages users to push the boundaries of what is possible with the Chumby, offering detailed information about the device's hardware. We used the secure shell client PuTTY to access the Chumby from a PC, and discovered that it was running the 2.6.16 version of the Linux kernel. The Chumby has a 350MHz ARM processor and 64MB of SDRAM.
For networking, the Chumby offers 802.11b/g wireless connectivity. One qualm we have is the lack of batteries, which means it is stuck near power sockets. We'd love to see the Chumby get fitted with batteries, but given the amount of energy the touch screen and built-in wireless module use, this would likely result in either a size or price increase.
The Chumby has a 3.5in LCD colour touch screen in a plastic and rubber frame, which is in turn wrapped in leather. A "squeeze sensor" button sits beneath the leather on the top of the Chumby with two speakers, two USB 2.0 port, a single headphone port and the power cord sitting on the back. A built-in accelerometer detects the speed and direction of the Chumby when moved.
How the ports, button, motion sensor and screen are used depends entirely on what functionality a programmer has put into a widget. By default, pressing the top of the Chumby (2009) once enters the menu, and holding it down while tilting it left or right changes the widget being displayed.
The 2009 Chumby's design is almost identical to the Chumby (2008), but that's not to say the latest version isn't better. The screen is brighter and provides more detail, and Chumby Industries claims that the touch sensor is more accurate.
We found that the increased performance was barely noticeable. In fact, almost all of the upgrades between the two products have been cosmetic, with the manufacturer listing features like "Modified charm attachment" among the four main changes. Internode is currently selling the Chumby (2008) for $199 and the Chumby (2009) for $349.
The display often failed to recognise contact on the upper edges of the screen, especially when using fingers. The screen is best suited for use a stylus, but the Chumby is not bundled with one.
There is occasionally a half-second lag between hitting on-screen buttons and actually getting a response. Although this doesn't sound like much on its own, the delays build up when you're trying to quickly scroll through news items or photos.
But aside from this, the operating system and control panel work smoothly and provide a good variety of options. You can change the widgets being displayed and a variety of other settings like screen brightness.
We found that the screen got quite warm after a few hours of operation, but it never got too hot to touch. The horizontal and vertical viewing angles are both good, but you will need to re-angle the whole Chumby to view the screen properly. The touch screen displayed colour images with vibrancy; a satellite picture of Australia we put up looked vivid and detailed.
If you want a cute, adorable and highly customisable home for an increasing range of widgets in an innovative form factor, then a Chumby is a good bet. But given that Chumby (2008) offers almost all of the same features for $150 less than the 2009 model, there is little reason to upgrade if you already have an older Chumby.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- 2 Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- 3 LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- 4 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- WikiLeaks: CIA used bits of Carberp Trojan code for malware deployment
- Chinese hackers go after third-party IT suppliers to steal data
- Intel divests McAfee after rough marriage, will now secure hardware
- LastPass is scrambling to fix another serious vulnerability
- BlackBerry readies a more secure version of the Samsung Galaxy S7
PCW Evaluation Team
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.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSecurity and Technical Risk ManagerQLD
- FTSenior Infrastructure Business AnalystVIC
- FTPMO CoordinatorACT
- FTProcurement AdvisorQLD
- FTDelivery ExecutiveSA
- TPBI & Report Developer (SQL Developer)QLD
- FTFull Stack Developer - Symfony 2QLD
- FTUX Design LeadNSW
- TPSOE EngineerACT
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC
- FTTest AnalystNSW
- CCService Desk SupportNSW
- FTContracts & Procurement Support OfficerACT
- FTSecurity Solutions Manager - Perth BasedNSW
- FTCRM Technical Specialist (Oracle Eloqua)WA
- CCSAP CRM Functional AnalystVIC
- FTGraduate Technical ConsultantACT
- TPLevel 2/3 Desktop Support AnalystVIC
- CCSecurity ConsultantVIC
- FTPERMANENT Business AnalystsSA
- TPSenior Test AnalystQLD
- TPPMO LeadNSW
- FTSolution ConsultantVIC
- FTSystem Administrator App-VACT
- FTSenior MS Dynamics CRM Technical ConsultantVIC