So just what is a Chumby? Well, it's a Chumby, of course: a plush ball with a touchscreen, WiFi, accelerometer, squeeze sensor, and USB ports. Any attempt to shoehorn this device into an existing category of consumer electronics will be met with at least some amount of resistance. The basic idea is to combine some of the best ideas in glanceable information and entertainment -- an alarm clock, digital picture frame, bite-sized web clippings, and an iPod dock, for example -- with an utterly unique design (when's the last time you wanted to hug your alarm clock?) and an open, hackable architecture. Like other projects of recent memory, the success of the Chumby will depend as much on the participation of the user community in creating, rating, and discussing widgets as it will depend on Chumby Industries' own efforts -- not to downplay the importance of the hardware, naturally. Read on for some quick impressions.
Update: We're happy to report that Chumby Industries contacted us regarding the white specks along the Chumby's side, and like many of our commenters have reported, they've never seen this issue before; they're expressing a new unit our way, so we expect a pristine bezel next time around. Chumby would also like to remind everyone that the units currently being sold are being coined an "Insider's Release" for a reason -- the software isn't complete and won't be until early '08 -- so just make sure you're cool with possible bugs, incomplete features, and frequent updates if you pop for an order in the meantime (though for what it's worth, we've seen zero issues so far with the software build we're running)!