After seeing Sony and Best Buy harness the power of their widget platform, Chumby is following suit with their own dedicated kitchen companion. And given its styling, that’s where you’ll want it — versus the Sony Dash which is equally at home in the bedroom as a super-powered Internet-connected alarm clock. The upcoming “personalized Internet media device” features an 8″ resistive touchscreen and 802.11g, but doesn’t follow Sony’s lead with a rechargeable battery option. Unlike existing Chumby-branded widget stations, this model features on-device app management… instead of sending you to a PC and web portal. The Chumby 8 is expected to ship mid-year and will be priced similarly to other Chumby-powered kiosks, which I’m guessing translates as the mid to high $100s.
While light on details, Sony has announced that their Dash widget station will see a refresh this summer. All we know at this point is that there will be two editions, in multiple colors, with one SKU receiving the oft requested internal rechargeable battery. Presumably, it’ll also feature a more sprightly experience via upgraded screen and additional processing power. We kinda like the existing 7″ Sony Dash, which sports Chumby apps and Sony’s Bravia content streaming (now including Hulu Plus playback), and feel it’s favorably priced at a new low of $149.
“Transportability was the next logical step in the evolution of our Sony Dash product line,” said Brennan Mullin, senior vice president of Sony’s personal imaging and audio business. “With a battery, consumers have the freedom to bring Dash from room to room in their home, experiencing the benefits of glanceable, real-time tidbits of information in new and exciting ways.”
Registering my account was a pretty simple affair — I could either logon by typing my credentials into the Dash or enter a registration code spawned from the Dash into Hulu.com, which is what I did. Let’s not rehash the Hulu Plus content limitations and inconsistencies (in general and compared to Hulu.com selections from a PC), but suffice to say this lines up with other television-based and mobile Hulu experiences. Up to and including commercial advertisement. The few minutes of video I sampled looked good, quite watchable. Although, I did experience an uncomfortable amount of buffering from the struggling hotel WiFi connection.
As with Hulu Plus, I may be one of a very select few who appreciates what the Sony Dash brings to the table. And though sometimes pitched as an advanced Internet-connected alarm clock, I prefer it in the kitchen as a widget station and “television” of sorts. Hulu Plus certainly advances that notion. Also, since launch, the Dash has seen a number of updates and its resistive touchscreen response has improved. The Dash originally retailed for $200, but Amazon’s offering it for $165 at the moment – which seems decent compared to say the Kodak Pulse digital photo frame (~$110) or HP Dreamscreen ($220) and comes in significantly lower than an iPad.
Unlike the tablet-esque iPad or Nook, the now-shipping Sony Dash ($199) is more of a stationary Internet widget station that houses a 7″ capacitive touchscreen. Speaking of those widgets, the core app catalog is provided via a partnership with Chumby. But fortunately dispenses with the hacky sack look. The Dash features at least two default displays and Chumby widgets, added via the unit and/or configured via an online portal, are windowed – but can optionally also be expanded fullscreen. My preferred presentation, after about 24 hours of testing this loaner unit, is pictured above.
Beyond Chumby, Sony has impressively channeled their Bravia Internet Video platform — which includes the likes of Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and Slacker. I briefly played with the Netflix app and was surprised at how good it looked when streaming an episode of Weeds. Of course, most of us won’t want to actually watch long-form content on a 7″ screen. Which is why one of my first stops was Slacker. That particular UI consist of grainy album art and lacks text labels, but once I got my account linked online, I was loving the Dash. Audio volume and quality are OK for a kitchen or bedroom. The speakers won’t blow anyone away, but they’re better than most laptops. Most impressively, and something an iPad can’t do (yet), is the ability to stream that Slacker audio in the background while say running the Chumby Twitter app. Continue Reading…
UPDATE: Sungale has let me know that there will be another firmware update before the frame officially hits retail. The company is graciously letting me hold on to the frame until the update, and I plan to post again.
I’ve had something of an obsessionwithWi-Fiphoto frames ever since eStarling brought the first one (disastrously) to market. So naturally I jumped at the chance to get my hands on the new Sungale touch-screen, Wi-Fi, widgetized photo frame – colloquially known as the ID800WT.
Sungale’s attempt to create a photo-displaying widget station is ambitious to the say the least. I’ve seen other manufacturers add wireless connectivity, limited access to Web content, and touch-screen capabilities, but not at the level that Sungale attempts. Everything on the screen is touchable, and the widget menu includes weather, news, Picasa, Gmail, YouTube, and Internet radio access. Alas, the execution doesn’t currently live up to the vision. The Sungale ID800WT is decent as a standard digital photo frame, but it’s not the tablet of the future that it aims to be.
It’s been a year and half since I first wrote about the Verizon Hub, but with launch date details finally confirmed (Feb 1), the Internet is all aflutter about this device. Tech specs are still fuzzy, but what we do know is that this is a cordless phone system with a touchscreen for Internet access and integration with Verizon wireless and VoIP phone services. It’s meant to act as a digital photo frame, note board, family calendar, and widget station all at once. According to a Wall Street Journal article, the broadband phone costs $199 with a two-year contract and a $50 rebate. There’s also – and this is the kicker – a $35 monthly charge.
There are very few things that would make me want to add another large bill to my monthly roster, and I have to question Verizon’s timing on this device. A year and a half ago there weren’t very many IP-based gadgets for the home, but that’s changed, making the Verizon Hub less revolutionary than it might have been. Add that to a disastrous economy, and one has to wonder how many consumers will shell out money for this device.
When I first saw the Verizon Hub, it was also linked to FiOS TV – letting you control TV settings and access the FiOS Media Manager software for viewing your own photos and video on a big screen – but there’s no mention of that now. An oversight? A future feature release?
As a final note, it appears the Verizon Hub may not be the only broadband home device Verizon has in the works. A commenter over at Engadgetlinked to photos of a “soon to be released” Verizon phone he purportedly saw at an Intel event. A little research finds the device is something called OpenFrame, which Gizmodo covered last summer. It’s hard to imagine that Verizon could have another broadband phone launch planned in the near future. Maybe OpenFrame is headed to another carrier?
For more photos of the Verizon Hub as it looked when Dave & I visited Verizon’s demo room in 2007, click here.
Remember Ceiva? One of the original digital photo frames… that incorporated Internet connectivity (!) to receive pushed pics from remote family as we did about 10 years ago for Mom. Apparently the company is still alive and kicking, having just pushed the Ceiva HomeView widget station thru the FCC.
Homeview’s hi-res display ensures your personal photographs are always beautifully presented. Our clever use of ZigBee technology means you’ll also have access to your home’s energy use in real-time. CEIVA Homeview gets instant updates directly from your electricity smart meter through a wireless connection. Of course our whole system, from photo sharing to thermostat adjustments, is available remotely through our free Homeview and photo apps.