Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Eulogy for my Chumby

My beloved Chumby One died today. I first thought to be a software glitch, since the booting seemed to take a long time, then it seemed to re-boot itself after a little while. After a few cold resets, the screen started to literally flash, like the flash of a camera, once every 2 or 3 seconds. Not a good sign. I opened it up, for the first time. Beautiful on the inside too. Regretfully, it does not look like something I could repair.

My Chumby served me faithfully and inspired me (I am not kidding) for the last 4 years or so, mainly as a desk clock . It had all the features I wanted in such a device: fairly sized touch screen, good WiFi, great speaker (bass reflex nonetheless), reasonable radio, rotary encoder for volume (or menu scrolling), backup battery, USB socket, internal SD card for the operating system. In the beginning, the OS allowed for various apps to be downloaded and installed (support was cut after the company went bankrupt). The app-installation process was seamless, comparable with today's Google Play, just earlier. The alarm clock app I used was perfect, with snooze, night dimming, always displaying accurate time (acquired from ntp time server). Other apps I installed showed photos from flickr, displayed RSS streams, played mp3s from USB stick; there was even a piano app that used the touch screen capabilities. Chumby was really a much cheaper alternative to a tablet, with a similarly great potential. Compared to a smart phone, Chumby's only missing feature was the GSM/GPRS, which I bet was considered to be added (since it has a microphone too). I also liked its stable shape, simple design and ease of use (great way to re-connect to the WiFi network too).

I never understood why it did not have a greater success.

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