back to article Chumby internet-connected alarm clock

The Chumby is one of those strange little gadgets that defies easy categorisation. If we absolutely had absolutely to try to sum it up in half a dozen or so words, it would be: Wi-Fi internet radio alarm clock with widget support. Chumby Chumby: internet-connected, squeezable blob This description applies to a 150 x 100 x …


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  1. Clint Sharp

    Waaaannnntttttttt oonnnnnee

    Santa, are you listening?

    I started off reading this thinking WTF, why on earth would you... but got to then end reaching for my credit card, I *love* the idea of an internet connected Chumby community and it's open source too!

  2. Mage Silver badge


    You can also get the insides as a reasonably priced kit to make your own meagre touch screen gadget.

    A pandora might be more interesting. If it launches.

    I think it needs to be cheaper and also run on rechargable batteries and have option for 3G USB dongle.. Two out of three of those are I'm sure easily hacked in. My Linksys WRT54G3G has 4hr internal battery life. No display on it yet.

  3. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Missing the point?

    Isn't the whole point of the Chumby that you have a small cheap portable, but powerfull computer you can do just about anything you want it to do.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My ISP in Aus has been flogging these for a while

    And for only UKP112. It's been available in Aus for about a year now and the price has dropped from UKP196 in that time so I guess it's not selling well. There over 20 localised widgets for Aus but none that are deal makers for me. A netbook on the verandah would do the same stuff plus a lot more.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Morbid obesity, Only across the pond?

    Last time I was in the USA it looked sickeningly healthy. I went for a run at 6 am and got an inferiority complex from being the most out of-shape person trying to run down the Mall str.

    During the 6 days I spent in Denver and Boulder if we do not count the state troopers (where being overweight is a professional disease), I saw in total 3 morbidly obese people. 2 of them were "non-local" from out of town waiting for a bus, the third one was working for how to say it... a non-US company.

    So while Colorado is by no means indicative of the whole of USA most of Britain does not look any better than USA at the moment.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Haha, Colorado

      Are you kidding? Colorado is the big haven for fitness geeks in the USA, most of 'em make Lance Armstrong look like a Java developer. It's about as non-representative as you can get. Heck, they even drive nice there. I was shocked when people used turn signals and looked where they were going.

      Come to Florida and I'll show you a 6-egg breakfast, with 6 strips of bacon, 6 pancakes with butter and syrup, and biscuits with white gravy all over them. That'll tide ya over a couple hours until lunch.

      1. Greg J Preece

        Gene is not wrong

        When I visited other states, there seemed a much more even spread, but Florida? Man, that's chock full of fatties. And not UK-style fat people, where you eat a bit much but you can still get shirts that aren't mail-order. I mean FAT. So fat you need two seats on the bus. So fat people mistake you for furniture. One memory that always sticks with me was queueing up for a show at Disney World (shut your pie hole), and watching three generations of a family, including the kids who looked about 12, skipping the queue and coming up the disabled ramp, all in mobility scooters because they were simply too fat to walk around the park unassisted. That's when it went from amusing to shocking.

        When queried by one of the other tourists (with a fantastically stereotypical German accent) as to why being fat got you to the front of the queue, a park rep responded that she "didn't want to leave them out in the sun too long." What, in case one of them turned crispy brown and was eaten by the rest of the family?

        I think that might just be endemic to the tourist areas though. Every other restaurant is an all-you-can-eat, and they operate that way 24x7 - breakfast, lunch and dinner. I mean, why wouldn't you? If I lived there, rather than dropping in for two weeks, you can bet your ass that mine would be sofa-sized.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "Some also take advantage of the Chumby's built-in accelerometer..."

    So, if you whack it off your nightstand in anger when it rings, will it yell, "hey, asshole - you're the one who set the time; don't take it out on me!"?

  7. lpopman
    Thumb Up

    Not just Open Source

    If you visit the designer's blog at you will find the schematics, and gerbers for it as well. It's not under a GPL style licence, you need to chat to them about producing them, but you can hack it without reverse engineering a thing :)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Misinformed - you or me?

    Couple of things...

    1. Don't think you need to d/l the Linux source of the OS to create widgets. The point of this thing seems to be being a Flash player - which is what widgets are based upon. If you want to hack a 3G dongle (for whatever insane reason it seems to be the thing to have on your alarm clock) then you obviously need to dig beyond Flash.

    2. Please link to that (in a useful manner) internet enabled Argos alarm clock for GBP6. Last I heard you guys getting all randy about the IMHO ridiculously overpriced SqueezeBox. Here you get a fairly decent internet radio player that is not tied into proprietary components. I do admit the UK price (as usual) is a joke compared to US pricing.

    3. There's some nonsensical feedback loop in the article. The ChumbyOne is $99 in the US and thus well within reach of not so affluent teens (a friggin video game costs 1/2 of that!) It's perfect reg style tho picking random facts out of context to bemoan ;-)

    4. Ultimately this thing is nice if (a) you are not poor (b) you want easy access to internet radio without having to switch on netbooks, cradle your phone or other paraphernalia (c) you think it's nice to hook into picasa, facebook and others using this thing as a photo frame (d) you like access to other internet info such as weather, event lists, even mail (although I prefer to have more secure access to it than a chumby on the bed stand..) and (e) you easily tire of clock designs, since there are 100s for the chumby to pick from.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Grammar 101

      >"2. Please link to that (in a useful manner) internet enabled Argos alarm clock for GBP6."

      That's not how you read English. Here, let me show you:

      >We say 'affluent' because the Chumby retails for £140, which seems a lot for an alarm clock radio - a cheap-as-chips one will cost you six quid from Argos - even one that can present internet-sourced info.

      The bit in the middle there separated by hyphens is an interjection. It's like putting something in brackets; it stands alone as a separate but related comment, and the main sentence should be read on through as if it weren't there. Think of it as an inline footnote:

      >We say 'affluent' because the Chumby retails for £140, which seems a lot for an alarm clock radio(*), even one that can present internet-sourced info.

      >(*) a cheap-as-chips one will cost you six quid from Argos.

      See? The sentence only says that a cheap-as-chips alarm clock costs six quid; it's saying that £140 quid is a lot for an alarm clock, even despite the fact that (*unlike* the six quid jobbie) it can "present internet-sourced info".

      Pip pip old bean!

  9. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Grammar 101

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Thank 'ee, gaffer.

  10. Robert E A Harvey

    No BBC? No hope

    As you say, a wireless that won't get test match special is not worth having.

  11. Richard Porter

    ARM chip, 64MB

    Should be able to run RISC OS then?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Misinformed - you or me?

    > Please link to that (in a useful manner) internet enabled Argos alarm clock for GBP6

    I misread that the first time too. After I looked at all the alarm clocks under 6 pounds in Argos, and then re-read the sentence in the review, I realised my mistake.

  13. Chika
    Thumb Up

    Nice idea...

    Mind you, I've had a retired Windows 98SE laptop with a couple of apps on it sitting by my bedside doing similar duties for the last couple of years. OK, it's wired rather than WiFi, and the video gets a bit jerky but it does the job.

    Having said that, I do like this. If the price comes down enough, I might even get one!

  14. Haku

    Psst, d'ya wanna see my chumby?

    I've had a US import Chumby here in the UK for several months now, initially I had some fun skimming through the various widgets like tapping the screen on the HAL 9000 one to make it say different phrases, and looking at a few YouTube vids, not forgetting the icanhascheezburger one (which unfortunately the low resolution screen makes it difficult to read many of the captions) but the interest quickly wore off when I couldn't find any specific purpose it could serve me with.

    Unless you're into creating your own specific widgets or hacking the device to run your own linux code on then I feel it's more a gadget for the Facebook/Twitter type of internet user.

    As there's no backup battery on the original version if your power goes out then it becomes a dead weight - no alarm clock for you! I like using my Eee as an alarm clock, set it to play an mp3 or playlist using the schedule command then put it into standby - it'll automatically come out of standby and start playing music at the desired time, even if you have a power cut because of it's own battery.

  15. KenBW2

    "It would be quite reasonable to...

    ... dismiss the Chumby as a toy or as the answer to a question nobody asked""

    I think i'll do just that

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Err danger Gene Cash danger

    I've never been there but I would probably stay away from the biscuits covered in white gravy.

  17. tony trolle

    errr thats a photo of the old version

    the new Chumby One lacks the pads.

  18. Richard Cartledge
    Thumb Up


    Somebody will probably hack the software like they have for the Freecom Musicpal I have as a kitchen radio.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Totally Passed Me By

    Here's the usual sequence of events:

    1. Alarm clock goes off.

    2. I grumble and hit snooze.

    3. Alarm clock goes off.

    4. I grumble more, switch alarm off and get out of bed and leave the room.

    WTF would an alarm clock need to be internet connected?

    It's not an alarm clock really. It's an internet connected gadget that just happens to have an alarm clock function. And if you need that function to justify spending £140 you're a little confused.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I was looking into importing one of these from the US quite a while back, what turned me off of the idea was I found out about the adverts that are placed on your chumby. Yes, that's right, adverts which you cannot turn off right there on your night stand! I'm surprised the reg did not mentioned this. Of course the adverts may be localised to the US only - though even so I feel it is a point worth mentioning. As I feel that potential purchasers may like to hear that in the future chumby may turn on the "feature" to add adverts to their device, to which one cannot opt out. The line that chumby take is that if you use their widgets then you have to put up with their adverts. Check out the chumby for more.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Not the point

      It's not supposes to be an alarm clock. That's just there to give the marketing droids something to market.

  21. JC 2

    If this really makes sense to you...

    ... seek help for your socialized internet addiction. Follow me on twitter, facebook, myspace and ebay to find out how! I taken ur paypal. lolzcatz^9

  22. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Already superceded... the cheaper and better looking Chumby One.

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    Soft and an accelerometer?

    Close, but no cigar. Now take out the crap, make it more robust and add reaction as follows:

    Slap with hand: Radio.

    Mash with fist: Short snooze.

    Venomous wallop with shoe: Long snooze.

    Hurled across room to impact heavily with opposite wall: It's a sick day, STFU.

    Reduced to individual components with cricket bat: Automated warranty claim, free replacement and raise accelerometer reaction thresholds by 10%.

  24. Al Taylor


    @ Chris C1 - Chris, no adds on our review device, so can only assume that's a US-only thing.

    @ tony trolle et al - we tested the Chumby Classic, not the Chumby One. The One is indeed cheaper than the Classic in the US but since you can't get it in the UK at the moment that's not a lot of use to us on this side of the pond. The One only has a single speaker and doesn't have the leather padding.

    1. TallPaul
      Thumb Up

      You can get the Chumby One in the UK

      Chumby US will now happily ship you one direct. This wasn't the case with the original Chumby when it first came out (presumably for CE marking reasons or similar) but they seem to have got their act together with the Chumby One. Mine is on the way now and, assuming I don't get screwed too badly for import duty, should be somewhat cheaper than buying a Classic from the UK distributor.

      Top toy, although I am concerned about the adverts issue. I don't want adverts at all but if they're for things I can't even buy I shall be peeved.

    2. Steve Anderson




      I've been woken up by a Chumby One for the past week. Including shipping, it cost roughly half as much as Firebox are asking for the Chumby Classic. It has a faster processor and more flash memory (courtesy of a microSD card), and an FM radio.

      Are you wrong? Erm, yes. Yes you are.

  25. Hugh_Pym

    Has no use?

    I think the most interesting point is that devices like this show that the home computer has changed shape. ARM+Linux means that devices can be produced at a reasonable price that have no initial 'killer app' to sell them. Novelties basically. They sell enough as a novelty to fund production but If one caches the imagination like the netbook did. It sells millions and becomes a new product category of it's own. This is the nightmare that Microsoft fears the most.

    Linux hasn't made much inroads into the Home PC market because basically the home PC is a Wintel platform and trying to copy it is playing Microsoft at their own game. It may be getting harder for them to move the goalposts but they can still do it and leave everyone else playing catch up. This kind of thing represents the death of the PC. Why spend money on a PC to do my facebook/twitter stuff when It's available free on my TV, phone, alarm clock, photoframe, washing machine, whatever. On the other hand If it's cheap enough you don't need a multifunction device you can have a set of cheap devices each showing an aspect of your digital life. One wireless keyboard/controller would suffice.

    The PC (aka wintel platform) then becomes the niche market. If you really, really need Word or really, really need a particular ActiveX based game then swallow the cost and buy a PC otherwise use the netbook you got free with your mobile contract or the touch screen on the printer or god know what device the next generation of entrepreneurs come up with.

    Just watch the MS machine go into overdrive if one of these things looks like becoming the next big thing. It will be 'What you really want is one of those with a bigger screen and a keyboard and hinge in the middle' and 'It's not worth having if cost less than £300' suddenly you will find it difficult to buy one that doesn't have an Intel processor and Windows on it.

  26. Chris Pollard

    No BBC radio

    ..... makes it reasonably useless as a clock radio replacement.

  27. bygjohn

    Possible BBC radio solution

    You might find the stream addresses at will work with this gizmo. Certainly work with FStream on the Mac and iPhone.

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