Chumby returns from the dead, brings 1,000 apps to your connected alarm clock

The Chumby line of products are internet-connected touchscreen displays which you can use as a smart alarm clock, internet radio, weather forecast device, or more. But the company that makes Chumby closed up shop in 2013 which left existing Chumby users with limited functionality — their devices have basically been clock radios with internet access for the last year.

Now Chumby’s Duane Maxwell is bringing back the Chumby service, which means users can access a library of over a thousand apps.

chumby one

You’ll need to pay a $3 per month subscription to use the full set of apps — the new owner known as Blue Octy is a much smaller company than the former Chumby Industries and has no venture capital or other way to help fund the service without charging a subscription.

You can still buy a new Chumby device… but if you’re in the market for an internet-connected device to put on your nightstand you might be better off buying a cheap Android tablet and leaving it plugged in all the time.

Still, this is good news for existing Chumby users looking to revive their devices. Chumby was an early player in the connected-devices space, long before tablets and smartphones became common and it’s nice to see the little gadgets still have some life left.

via Engadget and Hacker News

  • Mark Moylan

    I have a sony dash which used chumby apps. And sony maintained their own servers, so the apps were still available, however many of the apps are unmaintained and no longer work, due to API changes in services.

  • Someone from the other side

    In this day and age, a cheapo Android tablet would seem like a much better option…. you can get them for less than what a yearly subscription would cost….

  • Michael Thompson

    Wow Chumby!
    I remember wanting one but never got around to it.
    Yeah that limited functionality just seems limited now when compared to modern stuff, but they are still a cute little device.

  • BoloMKXXVIII

    I own several. For what they do, they are great! I would rather have these than repurpose android devices. They can be had for cheap these days.

  • Sam Curcio

    I had one app (custom clock) that I used for over a year without a subscription. Yesterday, the display showed an update was available. That seemed peculiar because the company had gone out of business. Curious me had to go for it.
    I regret doing that update, because the clock is gone, only to be replaced with a generic version. And, in order to get it back, I have to subscribe. My clock is basically being held hostage. I did not know a server was needed to run an app that was installed on my device. Well, maybe not, but that is how it works now.

    • BoloMKXXVIII

      The Chumby needs the server to download the control panel and provide certificates so things like Pandora can work. Chumbys themselves are pretty much useless without the server that Duane has been maintaining for over a year out of his own pocket. The monthly fee helps pay to keep the service running. If you do not want to pay I suggest you unregister your device at the Chumby web site. It will behave as it has for the last year.

      • Sam Curcio

        I have tried that. I will not get that clock app back unless I subscribe. Anything I had was wiped clean and replaced with a generic set of apps and the control panel.

      • Clinton

        I found the link for the offline install! Here it is Sam, it might be what you are looking for.
        http://forum.chumby.com/viewtopic.php?id=7832

    • Clinton

      I loaded the offline (unofficial of course) firmware on my chumby one a while back ago and don’t plan on adding the pay service. The built in webserver works well for modifying settings and the little guy just keeps rocking along on my desk at work.

  • George

    Chumby is a cautionary tale in the risks that early
    adopters take in betting on devices that don’t use
    industry standard ecosystems, or the losing ecosystem.

    Given that the length of time between early devices and
    commoditized industry standard devices emerge is
    ever shortening, and the rapid price drop during
    such occurrence, one had better make sure one
    gets one’s money’s worth when being an early
    adopter. Otherwise, just wait for things to shake out,
    and reap the benefits of the trail early adopters have
    blazed.