I'm not quite sure how she engineered it - feminine wiles, I'll bet - but Julie Strietelmeier over at The Gadgeteer managed to get onto the very, very exclusive list of pre-release buyers of the endearing Chumby alarm-clock-cum-web-appliance, and she's been busy reviewing the little fella. In case you've forgotten, the Chumby is a compact touchscreen and Freescale processor with a couple of USB ports and a WiFi 'g' connection; in its most basic mode it works as an alarm clock, but delve deeper and you can use it for all sorts of real-time information. Think something like Ambient Devices range of wireless info-devices, only using WiFi.
So does Julie's Chumby live up to expectations? Well, for $200 you could be justified having pretty high standards for a glorified alarm clock to live up to, and the device's opening gambit is disappointing: as an alarm clock it's a little too simplistic, has only two alarms and doesn't make sensible use of the Chumby's in-built buttons.
As for the user-customisable Widgets, however, the Chumby comes into its own. The key seems to be the flexibility of interaction, as the device has both the touchscreen, the buttons and even an accelerometer so it knows if you're shaking it. I'll leave the final words to Julie herself:
"As an internet device, the chumby is a lot of fun. Sure, you can access all the same information on your regular computer, but you would need to manually go to each site to get the info. With this device, the info comes to you" Julie Strietelmeier
Check out her full review over at The Gadgeteer!
Chumby Internet Appliance [The Gadgeteer]