Is There a Place In Your House for a Chumby NeTV?

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9 Sep, 2011 8:01 am


Well, physically the Chumby NeTV is tiny, so you’d probably have room for it among your AV equipment, but the real question is whether the Chumby NeTV compelling enough to earn a place there. A demo video linked below shows off basic features for the NeTV. Once set up, it can scroll your social network feeds and SMS across the bottom of the TV screen like a live news ticker. You can also sling photos and URLs to your TV via a mobile app, initially available for Android.

With the proliferation of laptops, smartphones, and tablets, would you want or need this functionality to interfere with your TV/movie viewing? Isn’t it more convenient to view this secondary information on secondary screens? The news ticker in the demo video looked like it had rather small fonts that would be unreadable from a normal TV viewing distance, so not only does the ticker cover up the bottom of whatever you’re watching, but it also seems like a bit of an eye strain. You’d have to pull out a phone or other computing device to act on whatever tweets, SMS, or posts are in the ticker, so again I ask, what’s the point?

One could argue that it would be useful to sling Hulu, YouTube or other video streaming sites to your TV, but the demo video didn’t show whether this would work, or how well it would stream. I’ve tried streaming Hulu from devices like the PS3 (before the native app was available), and it doesn’t work well. Also, Hulu is actively blocking “unauthorized” mobile devices from accessing videos through the website, so I’m skeptical whether it’d work with NeTV.

The demo video didn’t show how actual Chumby widget apps would look on your screen, but I assume they would also be available for display. It could be useful if said apps were optimized for TV screens, maybe configurable as a kind of screen saver when the TV’s idle. Then the Chumby NeTV could compete against devices like the Roku or Boxee which also have apps. The whole project is open-source, so developers wishing to capture people’s attention via their TVs could be interested, perhaps even make a play where Google TV wasn’t able to succeed. However, I feel like this is a definite case of, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

I don’t mean to sound Ultra-negative about the Chumby NeTV. I was quite charmed by the original, cute Chumby devices; I still have two of them. But those devices came out during a time before smartphones, tablets, and ultra-portable laptops were commonplace. Now the Chumby widget ecosystem feels a little dated, so anything building upon that ecosystem automatically feels a little dated to me. Don’t get me wrong — I love it when companies do experimental stuff just because they can, but I definitely appreciate it more when the experiment looks exciting and full of potential rather than making one shrug with indifference.

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Via This is My Next

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