Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
In their 1997 song Tubthumping, Chumbawumba sang, "I get knocked down but I get up again," describing well the daily cycle of sleep and awakening. For many of us, that cycle renews with the aid of a nightstand staple now targeted by Chumby, likely not named after the one-hit wonders. Depicting a clock radio on their Web site, Chumby's developers ask, "Um, this is the Internet era, isn't it? Why is this still sitting next to my bed?" The answer is that primarily there haven't been many alternatives until now, but also because alarm clocks are cheap and have easily understood and compelling functionality.
That is not yet true for Chumby, a broadband beanbag for Flash developers that promises a flexible feature list and exterior. According to Christine.net, Chumby has a 266 MHz ARM controller, 32MB of SDRAM, a 3.5-inch LCD with LED backlighting, stereo speakers, a headphone jack, and an ambient light sensor. It runs Flash Lite 2 (roughly equivalent to the functionality of Flash 7), and has a USB port and a squeeze sensor. Chumby looks a bit like a soft-shell TomTom Go, and its casing can be personalized, BeDazzled, encrusted with Swarovski crystals or even replaced entirely with what could be -- if it ever reaches iPod-like popularity -- an ecosystem of enclosures.