First Look at Chumby: the Huggable, Hackable Information Device

Chumby is an information device that, given its developer-approved hackable nature, is destined to become the Furby or Tickle Me Elmo of the gadget/geek world when it's released en masse in March 2007. The Chumby doesn't look like much when first plugged, but after registering it on Chumby Industries' Web site, the possibilities are seemingly endless, thanks to widgets. Nothing more than mini-programs, Chumby's widgets let you use the little device just the way you want: load up the appropriate widget, and the Wi-Fi-enabled Chumby taps into your Flickr account, displaying your terrific pictures on its 3.5-inch touch screen. Or, why not have it display the latest Google News—nay,Gizmodo!—headlines?

Given the open nature of the Chumby, it's trivial to load up a USB thumb drive full of MP3s and have a custom-made MP3 widget. It'll even play Divx (and presumably the more popular Xvid) files, though the screen's resolution is only 320x240.

Basically, Chumby has the possibility to be whatever your sordid little mind wants it to be, which is simultaneously frightening and wonderfully forward-looking. If all goes according to plan, it should be widely available for around $150 in March 2007.

Chumby Home Page [Chumby Industries via Crunch Gear]