ptufts wrote:It's designed by the same people, but unlike the Chumby, this one's either not hackable or has not been hacked. One of these appeared on the last Woot Off and I searched all over the place for "Sony Dash" and firmware OR root OR hack OR unix. Nada.
You're going to get the experience Sony designed. Until someone gets especially motivated.
It would be a bad idea to "hack" the Sony since even the "official" Chumby guys don't get to touch the stuff that Sony added, and if a hack ever came out, Sony would have a cow and immediately cut access to its "DRM'd" through Sony services (netflix, hulu plus, amazon, crackle).
The closed nature of the Sony unit is what allows it to stream the above features. The open versions of chumby still don't have streaming from those sources, and probably won't since they probably don't trust a product "designed-to-be-hacked".
I own both this Sony unit and a much more hackable Insignia Infocast 8 (eventhough Insignia has reduced/disabled some of the default geeky bits that's available in the Insignia 3.5 which is pretty much a clone of the Chumby one.)
The Sony is a *much* better alarm clock / bedside device that can also stream netflix and crackle and has a much more informative "theme" system that displays chumby apps in a sub window with lots of other useful info around it, the Infocast only displays applications full size and has no themes.
The Infocast 8 has a faster processor, more memory, a resistive touch screen, (I like being able to tap a screen with my fingernail and have it register,) a memory card reader, better speakers, and "easter egg" ssh access to its linux command line. It can only stream (audio-wise, I don't really care about streaming video from my computers to such a small screen) pandora and shoutcast plus Shoutcast channels. Insignia has disabled the media streaming from network sources from the UI, although one can ssh in and run the chumby provided programs from the command line to stream most un-drm'd streams... but it's a bit of a pain the ass to log into a computer to start streaming music on the unit. There also is a web browser for the Infocast 8 that's not supported officially by anybody, but is the alpha version of the one that's in the 8" Chumby8. Also the Infocast 8 lacks an acclerometer that all the other Chumbys and the Sony have, although there is a spot for it on the circuit board that you can solder one in yourself...
So pretty much my Infocast 8 sits in the living room mostly in night mode and on weekends I turn it on to monitor a bunch of webcams I have around the house since I have a netbook I use in the living for browsing the web when I "watch" TV. I haven't spent much time hacking the Infocast, except for logging into it through ssh, and looking through the applications that were installed on it through the linux command line.
The Sony Dash gets used every day as my primary alarm clock that displays the current traffic when I wake up, and every once in a while before I go to sleep I use it to stream some stuff from crackle or netflix since it's much easier to start and shutdown than lugging a laptop into bed with me. (BTW I also have Dash connected to a mini-stereo near my bed, so I don't have to listen to the crappy built in speakers. Even with the line connected and the stereo off, the alarms sound through the built in Dash speakers, which is a good thing, so I don't have to disconnect the line out.)
None of the Chumby's will make a good alarm clock... because one of the tech guys on the chumby infosphere has EXPLICITLY stated that the CHUMBY IS NOT AN ALARM CLOCK, so stop prodding them to add features to make it more suitable as one. IMHO, it would make a great alarm clock if they had added some of the features that Sony has added to the Dash, and I'd be using it a whole lot more that the Sony.
So in conclusion, buy the Sony if you want to use it as a bedside alarm clock with some cool streaming features. If you want to browse the internet, then look else where.
Oh, BTW, my Sony Dash is powered through UPS I had lying around since my computer outgrew the lower capacity of this UPS, so I don't worry about the alarm not sounding if the power goes off... the thing is what happens when the wifi connection is lost... that's why I have a back-up alarm on my phone. ;)