What if you could put your important internet information -- weather reports, news headlines, and Facebook news feeds -- on a touchscreen bedside appliance? Ask this question in 2006 when the original Chumby debuted, and we’d be thrilled at the potential. Today, we just shrug and hold up an iPad or iPhone.
A stitched-and-stuffed leather Wi-Fi pal, the Chumby is a virtual companion, chock-full of useful and amusing information. It’s somehow still cuddly, even with a 3.5-inch touch-sensitive LCD screen mounted to its face, but its Internet-enabled widgets demand to be taken seriously. Because it’s essentially a small, Internet-connected computer, the Chumby is equal parts digital-picture frame, weather forecaster, New York Times reader, alarm clock, Internet radio, and game platform. Depending on your needs, it could be something completely different. While we found some flaws, its casual, fun nature—and surprisingly handy tools—enable it to blend into any home.