It may seem an odd way to write news about a product, but before we talk about the Sony Dash
, we're going to talk about the Chumby
. A Chumby is a bit of consumer electronics designed to run a variety of widgets that can do...well...just about anything. The entire project has been open-source from the beginning, and the touchscreen device is capable of functioning as an alarm clock, digital picture frame, streaming Internet radio, displaying RSS feeds, and any number of other options. An entire development effort has sprung up around the device; there are currently more than 1500 widgets/applications available for download. Plus, it's kinda cute.
So what's that have to do with Sony? Quite a bit. Chumby's appeal evidently caught the eye of The Powers That Be at the Japanese company who partnered up with Chumby, polished the product's exterior, amped up the hardware capabilities, and built the Sony Dash. The Dash's touchscreen is the largest single upgrade we know of at this time—instead of the Chumby's 3.5" 320x240 screen Sony has opted for a 7" 800x480 panel. The Dash is a will be completely compatible with all Chumby widgets, which gives the device a leg up as far as versatility, and Sony is hyping the system as a computer accessory that streamlines your life. The Dash's display feeds are fully customizable, the unit sports a USB 2.0 port for additional connectivity, and Sony claims it will offer movie trailers, 'minisodes,' music videos and game trailers from SonyStyle. There's a Netflix app as well; presumably full-length videos will be available.
The one downside to the Dash is its lack of a battery—you'll be tethered to a cord if you intend to use the system. The device is scheduled to ship on April 15 and is selling for $199 at Sonystyle.