My first Impressions of the Sony Dash a Chumby device.

This project began as a shopping experience on one of my favorite websites woot.com. The Woot.com deal that day of the day was a Sony Dash personal internet viewer. The Dash is Sony’s version of a Chumby device. If you have not heard of Chumby before here is a brief definition from WikiPedia about the Chumby:

The Chumby is a consumer electronics product made by Chumby Industries, Inc.. It is an embedded computer which provides Internet and LAN access via a Wi-Fi connection. Through this connection, the Chumby runs various software widgets.

from WikiPedia about the Sony Dash

The Dash is a device manufactured by Sony that connects using Wi-Fi to the Internet. It has a touch screen which the user can use to browse information or listen to music. It is not a portable device since it does not have an internal battery. It is positioned as a personal internet viewer which can act as an alarm clock, internet radio, digital photo frame and many other uses. It has applications which can be downloaded onto the device. These are the same as those supported by the Chumby device.

One of the main reasons I purchased this device was to test devices that connect to the Internet but are not computers. It is estimated by Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg that there will be 50 Billion Internet Connected Devices by 2020.

Having played with the Dash for the past few hours I think that this device takes a little more work to setup than the average electronics consumer is ready for.There is a multi step process required to get the device ready for use. Logging into the Sony portal on the chumby website, choosing from a long list of possible apps, and making “channels” to display the apps on the device.

There are a few Chumby apps that really stand out:

  • NBC Real-Time
  • TechCrunch news
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Pros:

  • Makes a great Internet connected alarm clock
  • Netflix Instant Queue video streaming support
  • Nice intro video explaining what the dash can do.
  • Nice size for a nightstand
  • 1500+ apps available

Cons:

  • The learning curve is a little steep for the average consumer.
  • It take a little while to boot and get set up.
  • No battery backup.
  • Side access panel is a bit flimsy.
  • Sony locked it down … It is not hackable ๐Ÿ™

A little power saving project.

This project began with a little device named a “kill a watt“. I bought it a few years ago and have used it to test the power consumption of different devices in my home. Most of the time it sits in a drawer unused, but today …. I used it to save some money.

There was another piece of tech hardware sitting in my desk drawer a little Asus EEE PC. This device was purchased with the hope of turning it into a “hack-n-tosh”. The little machine got a hard drive upgrade from 4 gigs to 16 gigs of space and a memory upgrade to 1 Gig of RAM. I was able to get OSX running on the machine, but the constant cat and mouse game with updates coming from Apple made the project difficult and I put Windows XP on it instead. With the “hack-n-tosh” project behind me I stopped using the EEE PC.

Out of the blue an idea came to me …. what if I could use the EEE PC to replace the older Pentium 4 Ubuntu Linux box under my desk?

The older Pentium 4 has done a great job of handling DHCP and DNS chores for my home, but it must be using a good bit of electricity.

So a plan was hatched, to build out the EEE PC with Ubuntu Linux 10.4 LTS and migrate all my settings over from the Pentium 4.

It took me a few days to build out the EEE PC, migrate the settings and test my configuration. There were a few items that had to be adjusted to make a netbook work like a server. Adjustments like making sure that the netbook didn’t turn off or hibernate when the lid was closed.

With the adjustments behind me I was able to finally test out the new system.

Here are the results:

The older full size PC was consuming 112 watts of power while at idle.
The EEE PC only consumes 12 watts of power while at idle!

For a total savings of 100 watts or about $85 per year.

It was a fun project to do and I encourage anyone to take a look at how much their computers are costing them to run.