The chumby is an “iPod boombox”

July 4, 2007

One feature we haven’t discussed much about the chumby yet is its ability to play through its speakers an audio source connected to one of its two USB ports. I was just listening to my iPod(TM) plugged into the back of my chumby — makes a neat little boombox. And the chumby powers my iPod(TM) while it’s plugged in. Not sure we’ll be able to support MP3 players other than the iPod(TM) right away, but we’re working on other audio sources.

Hopefully this and my previous post today provide a sense of where we’re headed with the chumby — an inexpensive device that you can make into whatever you want it to be, and that takes a bunch of the services that you can find in a range of other products like digital picture frames, weather stations, internet radios and delivers them all in a neat little package controlled by a really simple web-based interface. Just plug it in, create a widget channel for it at, and you’re in business.

And naturally it’s squishy.


35 Responses to “The chumby is an “iPod boombox””

  1. Chris Cook Says:

    Ok already, stop telling me how cool it is if I can’t yet buy it!

  2. Kelly Says:

    I’m convinced already… Let me reserve one for when they do FINALLY go on sale. I’ll put a deposit down! REALLY!

  3. linuxlibrarian Says:

    I want one so badly… If I had a firstborn, I’d so totally trade it for one of these.

  4. Mike Says:

    There definately needs to be some Zune support for the chumby.

    I needs some ZUNE+CHUMBY harmony.

  5. linuxlibrarian Says:

    And yes, forgot to mention… Creative Nomad/Jukebox. I have to represent all those Zen Touch/Nomad users out there.

  6. Unfortunately, the Zune uses proprietary Microsoft formats and transfer protocols, and everything’s wrapped in DRM, so no Zune support.

    Some of the Creative devices are also using proprietary Microsoft protocols (MTP), so we’d have to take a hard look at that.

    Given Microsoft’s recent sabre-rattling with regard to software patents, we’re highly reluctant to incorporate anything that would get their lawyers worked up – so, I’m afraid the chumby’s going to have to be Microsoft-free for the moment.

  7. Phillip Kerman Says:

    Are you simply saying that you plug in the iPod to the USB to get power, but then control everything via the iPod interface and pump the sound out via the headphone cable? That is, you’re not saying you launch a UI on the chumby for your iPod are you?

  8. We provide an interface in the Control Panel to play playlists in the background, through the chumby’s speakers and headphones. We only support un-DRM’d MP3 and M4A/AAC files.

    Basically, the chumby launches a special local HTTP server that provides an XML-based interface to the iPod’s music database.

  9. June Says:

    There needs to be a way for people with just mp3 players and CD players to listen to music on the Chumby =]

  10. The problem with MP3 players is that there is no standard layout of files or playlists to intelligently handle them – and that’s just for the ones that mount as USB mass storage devices. The rest require implementatations of special proprietary protocols.

    We implemented code for the iPod mainly because it’s by far the most common player out there, and I’d already written a iPod management library for Linux at a previous employer – however, we may add more as we can.

    We have mounted USB CD players to the chumby, however, only as data storage devices. So you *could* treat them as MP3 players if they are data disks. We have *not* tried using the CDDA interface to read data from Red Book (ie regular) audio CDs.

  11. Vineus Says:

    Would it be easy to code an mp3 player to read files from a mounted /dev/sda[12] ? For a connected device like the chumby, a integration with the music player would be very cool to. Is an adaptation of xine-lib for the chumby possible for instance ?

  12. Yes, we already have a generic MP3 playing application for file-based storage – the issue is managing it. If someone hooks up a 500GB USB drive with 150,000 MP3 files on it, there’s little chance that the poor little chumby is going to know what to do with it all. However, if it’s just a matter of playing an individual file with a known location, then that’s covered.

    We also have the ability to play MP3 streams, although Internet Radio is in serious peril at the moment in the US, so it remains to be sen if there’s going to be anything left to play.

    This is a topic really better discussed in the chumby forum.

  13. (said in my best kirk voice)


    Seriously guys my bed side table is barren, I’m holding a support in reserve, nay in honor of the coming chumby.

    Get that thing shipped

  14. matthk Says:

    ZUNE+CHUMBY harmony?
    gack, that’s like saying you could imagine TWINKIES+FINE DINING harmony,
    or FOX NEWS+HONESTY harmony.

    I could see ZUNE+PINTO harmony,
    or ZUNE+EDSEL harmony

    Sorry Mike, but the only thing the Zune is harmonious with is sucking. ;-)

  15. Achilleas Says:

    What about ipods with rockbox firmware (AFAIK the database structure is different than the normal ipod firmware). It has to play ogg files.

  16. @ Achilleas

    The software we’re using expects a stock iPod database as created by iTunes – anyone is welcome to implement alternatives, since we provide all the same tools we use.

  17. Craig Says:

    UPnP and DAAP support would be awesome if you can manage it.

  18. Joe Says:

    once i get a chumby, it will be as necessary as brushing your teeth to me. SERIOUSLY. probably more, like taking a shower and staying clean.

  19. Sam Says:

    I’ll totally trade you my old computer for one…. My god if it get any cooler and i cannot have one i’m gonna just die. What is next?? can it defuse a bomb and make me a cafe latte at the same time?? do i need to feed it small children? will it tell me when i’m thinking impure thoughts?? And will it tell me to knock it off?? I just gotta have one!!!! I need the precious!!!

  20. Harlequin Says:

    Hey, I will trade you my whole family for one. But about the dog…well. He gets to stay. Do you have a projected shipping date you could give to any of us? I think I might go insane with longing. And Joe, I think it might be necessary like drinking water and eating food.

  21. […] work or school on time. Chumby will tell you to dress warmly or to carry an umbrella. Chumby is an iPod boombox. Chumby does so many things, you’ll have to experiment for weeks to find them all! Or, you […]

  22. adrianzegerman Says:

    omg i need the chumby now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. zuricher Says:

    please make it support airtunes and!

  24. Nathan Says:

    It’s pretty nice

  25. Peter Says:

    This looks like a pretty cool little device.

    Unsure of why we haven’t heard any publicity about the Chumby at all over in the UK

    I reckon it would go down well with the general public over here.



  26. […] with interesting channels and in other configurations. Let me end for now with another quote from Duanne’s blog post: Hopefully this and my previous post today provide a sense of where we’re headed with the chumby […]

  27. That is cool device. Can it play movie?

  28. forgot paying for the latest gadgets get them free check us out

  29. Gary Says:

    I just bought a Chumby, very cool…
    But I am using a Ipod Touch, and it doesn’t seem to work with it. Is there a chance this will change in the near future?

    Thank you again for a great product.

  30. usb Says:

    Really nice device – how about MPEG and movie Formats?

  31. Jean-Paul Says:

    Just realized it does not support UPnP. I’ll probably revert to the Freecom MusicPal. That’s really unfortunate because the Chumby seems to have an awsome user experience associated with it but the lack of such as basic service is simply a no-go.

  32. […] ago, before chumby was available for sale, I tipped that chumby was also an iPod boombox (which it still is, to some degree), and that chumby was an IPTV (which it is even more now, with […]

  33. Air Purifier Says:

    we both have those traditional picture frames and digital picture frames at home. both are great for displaying family pictures *;’

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