My initial reaction was the same as many other's. I was a little taken aback that I would be "forced to watch ads." Then I started using the Chumby.
In night mode the clock stays on all the time, also when you load a blank channel, no ads. I stared at that clock for a few hours last night without being "fed" an ad. When my alarm went off, I picked up my Chumby and scrolled through the widgets reading headlines, checking weather, seeing just how long I have to shop until Christmas. Again, I wasn't "fed" a single ad, I was scrolling manually though what I wanted to see.
I moved my Chumby next to my computer so I could tweak some widgets, play with ssh a little, and meddle with the alarm clock. As the Chumby sat on my desk, it played mp3's and scrolled through my widgets. I wasn't watching the Chumby like I watch TV, I was glancing at it now and again. After a few hours of glancing as I was working, I noticed a widget I hadn't seen before. I did a double take because I first thought it was a new Flickr picture, no, it was an ad. Now I didn't lose it, I didn't feel ripped off, I looked back at my computer and continued typing. I wasn't expecting to see anything else specifically, so it didn't phase me. Had I really *wanted* to see my Flickr stream I would have picked up the Chumby and changed the channel. When I glanced back <15 seconds later, the ad was gone and it was replaced by a picture of a cat with rolls of toilet paper on his feet.
My Chumby doesn't stop my widgets, crank up the volume, and tell me to lose weight for 3 minutes. My TV does, and I pay for that service.
My Chumby doesn't play music and news for half an hour and then play ads at me for 15 minutes. My radio does, and I bought that for my car for more then the Chumby cost.
My Chumby doesn't interrupt me when I'm doing something else and tell me about a new product. My phone does, and I have to fight to keep the calls down to once a month.
My Chumby *does* provide me with an extremely different way of interacting with media, it lets me tweak, and adjust it. It lets me try things out, and if they don't work, go back to the way they were. It lets me experiment with computer skills that I'm just starting to develop. All it asks is that every once in a while, when I glance at it, it's showing me a small ad rather then one of the many widgets I have selected. Moments later, this ad is gone and I'm back to my channel, no noise, no interruptions, subtle marketing to off-set costs.
I don't mind one bit, and I love my Chumby, his name is The Chairman and if he doesn't do exactly what I want, he will.