The Chumby Classic is an internet clock radio... and then some.

The Chumby Classic looks like the sort of soft-play toy your well-meaning sister might buy your toddler as a present. The squidgy device resembles an oversized Hacky Sack with a screen.

It's powered from the mains and is Wi-Fi-based. To set up the Chumby Classic you plug him in, and log on to your chosen network. With a responsive touchscreen you cycle through the required alphanumeric password details.

The Chumby Classic's tagline is ‘always something good on' and it serves entertainment news via MTV. Thus we were able to read about Lady Gaga's appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and click on a video link for a digest of entertainment stories. Clicking on an image makes it fullscreen. It's only VGA resolution, but acceptable for information grazing.

Stocks, news, weather and a social-media portal are provided. The radio is easy to navigate by location and genre. USB ports allow you to plug in an MP3 player too. The Chumby Classic's audio is neither especially loud nor of great clarity, but we've heard worse.

The Chumby Classic also plays video clips, music and slideshows, while new widgets are downloaded over the air. We grabbed a fun scribble widget that lets you create your own doodles - press on each eye to change its appearance, then do the same for your ears and mouth.

You can share all this with friends. Find other Chumby Classic owners and become chums with them by entering their email addresses. You can also gift widgets and send customisations. And if you get into the ‘cult' of Chumby you can collect charms and t-shirts and show off your Chumby in a Flickr set.

We also tried the webcam views of Trafalgar Square and Birmingham Bullring. Another suggested use is as a games controller: seize the Chumby Classic in both hands and steer your racing car down the track, or as an alarm clock.

A sunshine mode helps ease you gently into the day. One member of the PCA team assumed it was one of those alarm clocks you hurl across a room to slience its klaxon - but don't worry, our Chumby survived the iniquity.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Chumby Classic: Specs

  • Internet clock radio
  • 3.5in touchscreen colour LCD
  • 2 x USB 2.0 (USB Ethernet compatibl)
  • 350MHz ARM processor
  • 64MB RAM
  • 64MB flash ROM
  • 2W stereo speakers
  • headphone jack
  • accelerometer (motion sensor)
  • leather housing
  • 802.11 b/g
  • dimmable backlight
  • one-click control panel
  • 140x89x76mm
  • Internet clock radio
  • 3.5in touchscreen colour LCD
  • 2 x USB 2.0 (USB Ethernet compatibl)
  • 350MHz ARM processor
  • 64MB RAM
  • 64MB flash ROM
  • 2W stereo speakers
  • headphone jack
  • accelerometer (motion sensor)
  • leather housing
  • 802.11 b/g
  • dimmable backlight
  • one-click control panel
  • 140x89x76mm

OUR VERDICT

Although not the slickest of Wi-Fi internet radios, the Chumby Classic has more personality than most and offers a surprising range of abilities. The selection of web-entertainment videos and stories will get old fast, but radio, photo display, ability to play music stored from other devices and option to use Chumby as a speaker for your MP3 player make him an adaptable bedside or desk companion.

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