By: Courtney David Mills
IPA Technology Director, Chair of IPA's Litigation Section, and Litigation Paralegal at Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, P.C.
During my browsing for a topic to write about, I came across a review for a “Chumby.” At first, I thought it was some kind of overpriced brick that you could use to decorate your home. However, after watching a short video on the product, the geek in me was seriously impressed. The Chumby is essentially a small linux-based wi-fi enabled miniature computer with a small touch screen and built-in speakers. The following are some features of the Chumby.
Alarm Clock: If nothing else, the Chumby makes a decorative and amusing alarm clock. The alarm feature can be set to wake-up to preset pictures, music, internet radio stations, podcasts, etc. The Chumby is connected to your home internet and can be programmed from any internet ready computer. Users can download different backgrounds and clock settings.
Picture Frame: The Chumby can also be used a nice looking quality digital picture frame. Again, you can either transfer pictures on to the Chumby’s internal memory or utilize a free online picture archiving website (i.e., Flickr, Photobucket, etc.). Users can set the Chumby to randomly display pictures at preset intervals or even show random video clips.
Games: Users can also download free games that utilize the Chumby’s touch screen and motion sensor. The games are referred to as “widgets” and can be previewed and downloaded from a computer and sent to your Chumby via your home network.
Messaging / E-Mail: The Chumby allows users to send other Chumby users (a.k.a. "chums") messages or access their email account (POP3 or Gmail). This is a great feature if you are awaiting an email and do not want to be tied to your home PC. The features also allow you keep track of your social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) and keep in contact with friends and family.
Misc.: This device has constant internet access through your home internet connection so it can keep track of Ebay auctions that you are bidding on or watching. Users can watch videos or set-up videos to play as a video frame (a great treat for the Harry Potter fans). You can have it set to update with constant sports scores or other news information from most news sites. You can keep up to date on podcasts, blogs, and even stream live internet radio to the Chumby (through the built-in speakers) and also connect your IPod or MP3 player to play music. Weather widgets are also available that act as quick weather forecast (very similar to weatherbug).
The Chumby is an interesting innovative product that is designed for just about anyone. It combines some very useful features ranging from simple (i.e. clock, digital photo frame) to more geeky features that allows users to wake-up to their favorite song and a quick summary of the overnight news. The content (including widgets, games, etc.) are free and are based on open-source code (which is designed for allow programmers to create free and innovative widgets for the device). The price of the product is $179.00 (free shipping). Considering all of the features, this is a bargain.
Websites of the Month:
Chumby.com: This website has all of the information on the product and is the only source for ordering the product. Users can also create a virtual Chumby online. It allows users to test different widgets, games, and see what the Chumby is capable of doing. http://www.chumby.com