By now you might be familiar with the Chumby devices. If not, head over to our Chumby 1 review, which is the second iteration of the product. The Chumby 8 basically picks up where the company fell short and filled many of the proverbial holes that I experienced with the Chumby 1.
First off the screen is now much larger and more sensitive – it measures 8-inches. This makes it ideal for photos and easier to navigate the device since you don’t need the same finger point accuracy as found on the Chumby 1′s smaller screen. It sports a matte finish to help with glare and while it’s not a bastion of optical bliss, it suffices for photos and more. And speaking of which, Chumby has added a set of memory card slots to facilitate picture uploads from an SD, MMC or CF cards and there is also a USB slot.
Chumby has also outfitted it with a faster processor, which pretty much has removed the lag issues I experienced with the Chumby 1 when streaming Pandora. However, it’s not the speediest machine, especially when compared to today’s tablets, so expect to wait a second or two for things to load. In all fairness it doesn’t cost nearly as much as most tablet computers, so it’s not an accurate comparison, but nonetheless we tend have expectations regardless of price.
Users can now add apps directly on the device without having to resort to their computer, which is nice touch since this enables the device to be sold to a larger audience, though we don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a computer in this day and age. However, the app selection is limited and from what I can tell more are available if you do have a computer.
Chumby has cleaned up the UI significantly, which is made possible by the larger screen. There is now a full QWERTY keyboard when inputing any text. If you recall the Chumby 1 offered this, but it was smaller and not available for some reason when entering a security key to add WiFi.
They haven’t done much with the speaker setup, but like the previous iteration there is a headphone jack, and the built-in speaker will suffice for wake up alarms. At the top right corner is a button that both allows you to exit out of an app and control a background app, such as Pandora. I would have preferred if there was an option to simply touch the screen to bring up the current apps menu, as this would make for a more intuitive process.
The build quality of the Chumby 8 seems to be a step up when compared to the previous iteration. Furthermore, this version is slicker looking, but with that said it has lost some of its adorable, Chumby charm. In other words it no longer stands in a category all its own, and now falls under the same guise as an LCD photo frame.
So why the Chumby 8 over another touchscreen, Internet connected device? It’s a fair question and one I kept pondering while testing it. The larger screen is most certainly a big draw, especially for those who want to tap into a Facebook photos or other photo feeds. It’s also nice to have a wide array of apps at your disposal completely free of charge, though most probably won’t get used, even after downloading them. Which brings me to my point: the Chumby 8 is best served as a bedside companion or a means to stream Internet radio. You’ll never surf the web on it, check email or really do anything that it out right productive. Which brings me to my next point, price, which is $200. For a few hundred more you can score an Android tablet or a 1st gen iPad. Unfortunately, Chumby might be destined to go the same route of Flip camcorders, which were quickly displaced by smartphones thanks to their high end optics and more vast feature set.
- Large touchscreen; 8-inches
- Relatively easy to use UI
- Apps now accessible on the device itself
- Touch-resistive as opposed to capacitive touchscreen
- No battery power
- Requires a set of external speakers