Topic: If you could change/tweak/improve the Chumby...

Just thinking out loud here...
This is posted as constructive feedback and not a complaint or flame session.

But first, a caveat:
I have no idea how to run a business, if I tried mine would probably fail. I don’t know how to build a Chumby nor am I trying to tell Chumby what they should do. This is just an out loud brain storm.

If I could change the Chumby:
* It’s not portable enough *
- BATTERY (this is the number one thing is really needs IMHO)

How to keep the unit still affordable, make these as options.
Optional dock, optional battery, optional memory etc. That way the unit can still be affordable and people that want the extra stuff can still get it.

IMHO the Chumby is not portable enough. If I am in bed and the alarm goes off to wake me up and then launches my wOOt channel (all on its own), I would like to be able to sit up in bed and pick up the Chumby and look at what is on wOOt and perhaps read the news, pass it to my wife so she can check the weather and so on; whilst still in bed. I can't do this now, because the unit has no battery and the cord is either too short or cumbersome.

What if there was a battery option for the Chumby, where you could buy a Li-ion battery like a cell phone has. It would be a custom battery that had it’s charging circuit piggy-backed on the battery. Then the owner could buy this battery, open the Velcro slot and plug it into the battery connector. Once pluged in, it could power the Chumby and also recharge itself when plugged into the wall. Even 15 or 30 minutes of life should be enough. I often want to show my Chumby to a friend and let them play Chum-ball, but I have to have them stretch over the desk/table and use it with the small about of cord that is slack. If it had a battery, I would hand it to them, let them try it and then they could hand it back for me to plug back in (or dock).

Lets go one step further, what if the Chumby came with two small recessed contacts on the bottom. Then you could buy the optional Chum-dock and have one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom and move the Chumby from room to room w/o having to unplug it or carry a wall-wart with you. The current plug hole can still stay on the back for those who do not want to use a dock option. I could have the Chumby running in the bed room, then just pick it up, carry it to the kitchen and place it on the dock, and be good to go. I would buy three docks; one for the bed room, the kitchen and for work.

Two other small things

* Wake up after power is restored (e.g so the alarm would work after a power loss).
It CAN NOT be done in the field with existing units. But it could be done to future ones perhaps.
(There is a thread on this here

* More memory
I know that even the cost of adding the card reader slot would perhaps be too much, it would be nice if there was a SD slot on the main board of the Chumby that if a owner wanted to buy a SD card, they could open the Velcro slot and slide a SD card into the SD slot and use it to run apps or what have you w/o needing to hang a USB thumb drive off the back. Think of it as adding more RAM to a PC...

Caveat: I know some of these can't be done due to costing too much, physics, code or acts of god.

Thanks for listening-reading and/or snickering, Matt


Re: If you could change/tweak/improve the Chumby...

As has been mentioned elsewhere:

The ER-PHOTO battery made by Energizer is an excellent option.  It fits inside the housing with a bit of work and provides 3-5 hours of charge.  It can be used while charging.  It costs around $50 and can be found on lots of websites; I got mine on Amazon.

I believe the Chumby doesn't ship with a battery because one of the aims is keeping hardware costs down.  Including a battery, even one with a shorter lifespan, would push the price past the $200 point.  Many people use their Chumby as a stationary device, like a clock radio; for these people it is money down the drain.

That said, I'd love to see Chumby Industries selling accessory products.  A battery, cosmetic items, USB devices made for the Chumby, etc would all be really neat.  Since the Chumby is still in its infancy, however, it does make sense for CI to wait before offering these.  A phidgets-like series of addons would be really cool!  Especially if they included a user-friendly interface for programming them to do simple actions (like going into night mode if the ambient light is low, etc).

Re: If you could change/tweak/improve the Chumby...

There were two reasons for the battery not being shipped with the Chumby....
There was a BIG worry about Li-Po/Lion battery liability.... I vaguely remember Bunnie mentioning the safety issues with lithium rechargable battery packs and they did not want to go down that long and windy road... Also why a pack wasnt put internal.. Heat issues... The second reason, as you mentioned is to keep the cost down..... Id like to see an RDS radio tuner (bonus if it had perhaps a usb hub and a remote control)... or even a hardware HDradio tuner (just output its stream to the chumby, *NOT* have the chumby decode it)....  Keep thinking of a media dock, something to like a satrad has... Couple of powered speakers, perhaps a battery pack, places for some SD ram (pref the high capacity type), and a few extra USB ports for memory dongles..  and a tuner. wink