The Sony Dash Übergadget! Information Device, Picture Frame, Alarm Clock, Dot Dot Dot Dash…

Computers are shrinking themselves into new places around our homes and offices. Driving this revolution is a new class of application friendly device, The Information Device. Sony’s new HID-B70H Dash is one such device, this is a 7″ Touch-screen Über Information Device. Flexibility is the Dash’s middle name, this flexibility gives it many personalities; Über Alarm Clock, electronic side kick in the kitchen, picture frame, media terminal or real-time data display. You make the choice by selecting and installing applications from a library of over a thousand free applications, turning the Dash into your own personal information – dash – hound.

Once it’s off and running there’s no restarts, no refreshing, no crash’s, no hassle operation. Sony has kept the design of the two new Dash models understated – the HID-B7 $129.95 USD and HID-B70H $169.95 USD -, they are handsome but not over the top, able to fit into any situation. Both models will be available in October and can be pre-order now. Both are almost identical, with the only difference being the built in lithium-Ion battery in the more expensive B70H. Even though the new battery does give portable pretenses the Dash and other similar devices work best in stationary roles, stationary tablets if you will. If data on the go is your thing a standard tablet can’t be beaten. Being a stationary tablet isn’t a bad thing though, as a bed side computer the Dash allows you to set it up exactly as you need for that situation and just leave it. Do you really want to have to plug your tablet into your bedroom speakers, power etc., every time you go to bed.

What if your not sleeping alone, do you take your tablet with you when you go in the morning, taking the alarm clock in the process?

One of the Dash’s main strengths has to be the 1000’s of free applications, all targeted at jobs the Dash does well, sharing information and keeping you on time, informed and up-to-date. 100o’s of different clock faces and alarm combinations are available to give your Dash that personal touch. Social media apps including Facebook and Twitter allow you to keep updated on the latest gossip, while the news apps like the New York Times add the world of news to your daily routine. AccuWeather is a must have app that can be put into a cycle window so it’s displayed every few minutes. Dr Oz and Martha Stuart have apps along with the biggest names in photo sharing, Flickr®, Picasa™ and Photobucket®. Other notable apps include; YouTube, NetFlix, Yahoo Weather, EarthCam, ESPN, Lava Lamp, Fireplace, BeerBlogga, Gmail viewer, Fish tanks are even well catered for. The toughest part is deciding what not to install.

Dashboard on a Dash is similar to the Desktop of a PC and is the secret to it’s flexibility. The Dashboard allows you to put different applications in different types of frames – windows – on your Dash. Some frames allow multiple apps to be rotated, flipped through. The main frame on the dashboard allows one application to take up a large portion of the screen, updating it frequently creating a hands free information portal. Put your stock ticker there and keep a sideways eye on the red and green patterns. The new online setup of the B7 and B70H allows you to quickly switch between dashboards without having to connect the Dash to a PC. While Dashboards can be setup and customized independent of a PC the supplied USB can still be used to connect the Dash and a PC if required. The USB can also be used to connect a USB storage device for extra storage.

The operating system at the core of the Dash’s personality is the latest smoothest version of ChumbyOS, Supersweet!

Chumby is a Linux derivative, a cousin to Android but not directly related. Chumby regularly updates the OS, and it has a solid reputation for smoothness. They’ve recently added improved task switching, making it easier to switch between multiple applications and a basic browser has also been added to ChumbyOS. Updating the ChumbyOS is fully automatic via a Wi-Fi connection, no manual downloading and installing updates required.

At 800Mhz the Marvel CPU is a nippy little number, while it is well behind the latest dual core ARM CPU’s in the Galaxy and IPhones, though it is plenty of grunt for an efficient operating system like ChumbyOS. Very similar to Google’s Chrome PC’s or any other cloud based platform the ChumbyOS has very little local storage, instead application and data that run on the Dash are downloaded from the Net and run within the systems 128MB of Ram. While this isn’t a huge amount of Ram the light operating system and cloud nature of the ChumbyOS allows the Dash to still be fast and responsive. The USB port can be used as a backup source of media for the Dash.

As an Alarm Clock or the Dash is an Über Alarm Clock. 100’s of customizable clock faces and alarms are available. The Dash also has the ability to use various applications as wake-up applications, alternatively a custom alarm sound can be selected or one of the many standard alarms can be used. The Dash is flexible enough to wake you up gently with your choice of internet radio stations, alarm noises or any application that takes your fancy. If you have ever hunted around for a new alarm clock you will quickly realize it’s a pretty depressing range for such a basic and essential gadget. The Dash changes that once and for all., Set ShoutCast as your wake-up app and have your favourite internet radio station wake you in the morning.

The Dash’s title as Übergadget! King of alarm clocks is cemented by the dimmable LCD display.

The few high tech alarm clocks that have come and gone have fallen over here. In a darkened bedroom at night an LCD display even when showing only a black image will light up your slumber like the brightest of night lights. It’s not enough to be able to control the LCD’s brightness, you must have the option to turn the LCD’s backlight right down, off if possible. When dropping into sleep mode the LCD on the Dash will dim its backlight until totally dark. In the morning the display can turn itself back up to a normal readable level. LCD’s don’t actually need the backlight to work they just look really dim and washed out without it. The battery included in the new top of the line B70H also provides one of those essential electronic Alarm Clock functions, battery backup. The Dash’s have always had a clock battery backup but the new built-in Lithium-Ion battery goes past that allowing up to an hour of full operation without power, after that the clock battery backup will at least keep time.

As a picture frame it surpasses everything else, this is the device picture frames wish they were. With all of the major photo sharing sites covered and a vivid display. Again much of the Dash’s flexibility as a picture frame comes from the app’s available, of which there is no shortage, picture apps are possibly second only to clock face apps in number. The usual big names are present; Facebook Pics, Flickr®, Picasa™, Photobucket® as well as NASA’s photo of the day. Widgets for every kind of slideshow as well as slideshows over the USB port keep the option coming. The Dash is a natural multi-tasker so playing your own music tracks over a slideshow is a breeze.

As a kitchen information device it can act as a timer, weight converter and general electronic kitchen hand. Set the Dash up to have all of your early morning information on hand, check you Google calendar for todays doings and not to forget that birthday that always slips your mind. Have Martha Stewarts recipes on hand or just tune in to your favourite cooking music, all at the tap of the Dash’s touch screen.

The Dash has the looks to find itself easily at home in the office as well. As long as you can find a Wi-Fi connection the Dash allows you to move all of those social media windows off your PC to the Dashboard. Need a little mood music at work, work twitter and rss feeds to follow, easily done on the Dash, making the information easily visible with no fuss.

Tablets and information devices like the Dash are part of a small computing invasion, the pervasive information revolution. Small cheap computers that bring the world of information to us, where-ever WE are. Smartphones, cheap tablets, picture frames and other information devices are all part of this revolution of pervasive computing devices. Bedroom or mantle piece computing at it’s best, low power, quite, easy to use and flexible.

In a world full of dull alarm clocks and one trick picture frames Dash stands out as something better, ticking every box on the noid checklist; customizable, hackable, black and shiny. Going places a PC would never dare, the bedside table, the kitchen, living room mantle or the office the Dash is going totally new places in style. Think of the Dash as a little window into the new world of information, a window that can easily make itself at home in the CEO’s office or by the bed. This is a jack of all trades that doesn’t stretch itself too thin, the primary functions of the Dash, alarm, clock, media display, active web based information display are all handled with aplomb. When you add your selection of applications the Dash becomes your own personal information pet.

Sony HID-B70H Dash Specifications

  • Dimensions (Approx.) : Approximately 7-1/2 x 5-1/8 x 2-7/8″ (190.4 mm x 129.8 mm x 72 mm) (W/H/D)
  • Weight (Approx.) : Approximately 1 lb. 4-1/8 oz. (0.57 kg) without AC adaptor
  • Display: 7.0″ WVGA Resolution 800×480 Resistive Touchscreen
  • CPU: 800MHz Marvell ARMADA 166
  • Memory: 128 MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Wi-Fi : 802.11b/g/n, 2.4 GHz WEP, WPA-SPK, WPS Encryption Wi-Fi Certified
  • Headphone/line output
  • Integrated speakers
  • Microphone input
  • Dimmable backlight
  • Accelerometer supports Vertical Flip
  • Real Time Clock with Battery Backup
Source: Sony Product Page
 Source: Chumby

Buddha’s Brother out.…