I remember seeing this gadget some time ago and thought it was a good idea but it was expensive and not available in the UK at the time. The availability changed but the price remained more or less the same.
Fortunately for me I had some over time cash to buy one before the VAT increase.
The packaging it came in was very interesting. It didn’t have a box but it came in a canvas woven draw string bag. The large bag has a smaller side compartment where the Chumby sits and there were another 2 draw string bags containing the power cable and collectable key rings. I like the packaging because it is reusable but does not provide a lot of protection.
The power adapter came with multi-country pins similar to the HTC charger cable. The classic does not have a battery so it must be connected at all times. The newer Chumby One does have a battery so it’s more portable. The software leather exterior is a very nice touch with an accelerometer and one hardware button on top.
The Chumby device is purely for streaming widgets. No widgets are stored on the device so a wireless networked is required and an Internet connection will help. The screen uses the resistive screen which is not as good as a capacitative screen (think of stylus screen vs. iPhone). It does not come with a stylus so having finger nails help. Thankfully most of the GUI has been designed with large buttons for non accurate poking.
The device has 2 USB slots for mp3 playback and it also has built in podcasts and supports shoutcast and streaming protocols. I have tried to get Chumby connect to Ampache but failed to get it working.
To use the device an account needs to be created and the device registered to the account. Once completed there are hundreds of widgets online for free to use. Most of the widget management is done online and the device communicates with the Chumby Factory servers to get the new updates and changes. I love the remote management aspect because it allows you to be away from the device and configure it at the same time.
An important by lacking feature is an automatic night mode. Currently the device is too bright for evening times. There is a night mode which dims the screen and changes to a default night mode clock. This has to be done every night!
Functionality wise I have not found much more use for it other than as a desk top radio clock which is not worth the RRP in my opinion.
Overall I love the widgets and all it lacks is a barometer for weather related information. Having said that, Oregon Scientific makes good barometer clocks which come in cheaper than a Chumby Classic