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CNET First Look
CNET First Look
>> Hey, I'm Donald Bell, senior editor for digital audio and MP3, and this is a first look at the Chumby One. The name is kind of goofy, but essentially this is a little box with a touch screen interface that connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi where it can pull down news, weather, music, videos, games, and more. As the snooze button on the top would indicate, you can also use this as a fairly sophisticated alarm clock with dozens of alarm options. Currently, you can pick one up directly from chumby.com for $99. But the company is saying that's an introductory price, so it might go up closer to $120. Either way it's a welcome price drop from the original 2008 Chumby which looked a little bit like a beanbag and carried a price tag of $179 which isn't to say that I'm thrilled with the plastic kiosk look of this latest version, but at least it doesn't look like a toy. In spite of the lower price a lot of improvements have been made. The Chumby One uses a faster processor than the original which makes the screen feel a little bit more responsive and cuts down on some of the load time. There's only one USB port on the back instead of the two from before, but it's been upgraded to a USB 2.0 spec. If you're wondering why the USB port is there at all, the port comes in handy for loading music off of a thumb drive or connecting an iPod. You have a dedicated volume knob now which feels a little flimsy but it's definitely an improvement over the touch screen control. There's also a battery compartment for an optional rechargeable battery pack which is an off-the-shelf model that we found for around $15. The battery's only going to offer about an hour or so of power but if using this as an alarm clock it's nice to have the backup. You also see a black wire running from the bottom here. This is for the built-in FM radio which is another feature the original Chumby lacked. It's not the most useful radio in the world. It takes a few clicks to access. There are no presets, and in the current firmware you can't even use it as an alarm. Still, it's one more thing to play with and in general the Chumby makes for a pretty cool little jukebox. In the music panel, you can tune into Pandora, Shoutcast, iHeart Radio, MediaFly, New York Times Podcast, and dozens of other options. The built in mono speaker isn't great. The headphone jack on the back makes it easy to connect to external speakers or to a home stereo. Now, if you're still confused on exactly what the Chumby One is, you're not alone. Even the box it comes in is pretty ambiguous. But whether you use it as a clock radio, a news reader, an Internet radio, a photo frame, or something entirely different, at $99 it's a fun little techie toy that you're bound to find some use for. For cnet.com, I'm Donald Bell and that was a first look at the Chumby One.
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