Sony Dash – Initial Impressions

I picked up a Sony Dash today (HID-C10) as I am a long-time owner of a Chumby and I was looking forward to the larger screen and expanded functionality of the Sony Device.  I played with the Demo models and- albeit a bit sluggish- I was sold.

EDIT: I was having some issues with the initial setup, but these were resolved by a helpful member at the Sony Style store.

I purchased one and took it back to my office to do the initial setup.  After setting the wireless key for my network, The Dash promptly told me:

Update Available

A Software update is available for your dash.
Press OK to install it.

Current software version: 1.0.111
New software version: 1.7.1169

After clicking Ok, it reboots, downloads the update an attempts to install.  Unfortunately, I had issues:

Updating Software

Update was unsuccessful

Please turn the dash off,
then back on while holding down
the MENU/SNOOZE button to retry.

This occurred a few times and I eventually gave up and put the unit back in the box and went back to the Sony Style store (in Lenox Mall) to exchange it. 

The person at the Dash display table in the Sony store was very friendly and understanding when I returned with the unit.  She powered it up and it worked perfectly at the Store; (which figures) It updated and was ready to go. 

I am going to assume there were issues with the wireless network at my office; it is an AT&T DSL connection that uses basic WEP with an ASCII key made of hexadecimal characters (I tried HEX and it would not get an IP, ASCII connects and gets DHCP).

After this, setup was pretty easy.  :)

The device needs to be activated to use the Chumby channels.  The setup goes through dash.chumby.com and requires a ‘My Essentials’ account with Sony.  After logging into this, an account is needed on Chumby (or you can attach to an existing account) and select widgets to be displayed on the application window of the display.

Many of the individual will need to be authenticated with their corresponding site (Facebook, Twitter, etc) or configured for your area (Weather, traffic, etc).

The overall interface of the Dash is a bit sluggish- but hopefully this will be resolved with future updates.   However, the ‘native’ apps seem toe be very good: Netflix is very watchable and the screen size is perfect for a bedside display.

The main use of the device is an alarm clock- and that is something that I have used my old Chumby for over the past 2+ years.  Multiple custom alarms can be created, and the alarms can be set to sounds or preset music channels (or ‘blue ocity radio’?).  No options yet to wake to music from Pandora, Slacker or music on a connected USB stick (which was my primary Alarm method).

One HUGE disappointment for me is that playing music via USB is not yet implemented in the current release- when I go to Music, USB I receive the response ‘coming soon’.  This was the primary way I used music on my Chumby- and having this missing during the ‘launch’ of this device is a huge blunder…

My views on this device went a full 360 with a few short hours:  I was emphatically irritated with the failed updates, only to be appeased by a helpful Sony representative.  I was then enjoying Netflix and some other features but stymied by the lack of music options for the alarm- later to discover the absence of USB support on the ‘release’ model of the Dash.

I will probably keep the Dash- but it will not reside on my nightstand until Sony resolves the ‘coming soon’ for USB music!


iPad Initial Thoughts

I received my iPad about a week ago. and it made quite an impression on me; it is fast, intuitive and beautiful. Everything on it works very well and it was planned out well enough to contain reverse compatibility with older iPhone games/apps.  This is a sample of the GV-iView software:

IMG_0009 IMG_0007

The iPad ships with a rather barren assortment of accessories: the actual iPad, an Apple standard (proprietary) USB cable and a USB wall charger adapter. If you want a slipcase or a tablet stand, expect to spend the normal $20 - $40 for something that is worth 1/2 of that price...

One quick note on the USB charging; The device requires 10w of power to charge the device. If you plug the USB cable into your PC, it will show 'not charging' in the corner by the battery. This is not always true as I have left the iPad plugged into a PC and it was at 100% come morning. An iPod 3GS adapter is 5w, and it will charge the iPad in about 6 hours.

Overall, Battery life on the device is pretty amazing; I can spend an entire day browsing the web, watching videos, playing games and listening to music/podcasts and still be at 30% when I go to bed. This is probably due to the gutty-works of the iPad being mostly battery:


The screen itself is very bright and vibrant- and also very reflective and fingerprint magnetic.  The screen is unusable in direct sunlight or in a room with bright lights (mostly due to the glare).  It works fairly well in dark bedrooms or in server rooms. 

The on-screen keyboard is very usable, but the option of using a Bluetooth keyboard is much preferred.  The touch-screen is very responsive and page flips zip by.


App prices are varied: $0.99 to $14.99. Some versions are worth the price, but many are not. To date, I have purchased a few $0.99 apps, one $2.99 app (BlogPress) and on $7.99 game (FieldRunners HD).  I do not plan on purchasing many others.

I am still awaiting updated versions of Facebook, Amazon, DropBox, and Carbonite.

Application providers are able to provide hybrid iPhone/iPad apps that will work equally on both platforms.  They are also able to publish platform specific versions- so there is a $2.99 version of FieldRunners and a $7.99 version of the same game for the iPad; there are no changes to the game save for screen resolution and textures, so it seems a bit exorbitant to me to charge more than twice the price of the original iPod version.  On the other hand, $2.99 for BlogPress gets an application that will run on either iPhone or iPad.

eBook Reading:

There is a myriad of eBook reading options:

  • iBooks: The default eBook reader for the iPad.  Purchase books from the iTunes store, or drop an EPUB into the iTunes application so it be install with the next sync.
  • Amazon Kindle: purchase books from Amazon and use their 'whispersync' network to read books on iPhone/iPad/Kindle/PC.
  • PDF Readers: There are several free & paid versions of PDF reader apps.  PDFs are added via a ‘File Sharing’ option in under the Apps tab in iTunes.
  • Stanza: An old classic iPhone eBook reader updated of the iPad
  • Barnes & Noble Reader is ‘coming soon’.

The above to me pretty much signal the death of eInk devices. While eInk can be read outdoors and for extended time with less eye fatigue, the screen of the iPad is very comfortable for at least a few hours of reading (how many hours a day do you stare at an LCD screen at work?) and has the ability to play in-line videos (and follow hyper-links to web pages).

There is a very impressive Marvell comics app that includes four free issues.  Very beautifully done and it can flip page-by-page or cell-by-cell. 


There are also several ways to consume video on the iPad. 

Hulu is not a direct option as the iPad does not support Flash; however, ABC has a free application that will allow you to watch the latest episode of V, Lost, or several other shows (including a few daytime shows for the soap followers):


You can also pony up $5 to rent a ‘HD’ movie from iTunes- or ‘buy’ a digital copy of it for $20 (lol!).  Standard definition versions of most movies are $4 for rental or $15 for purchase.  This is NOT the way to distribute media; most of these titles are very similar prices on Blu-Ray/DVD from Amazon- and many with digital copies on the disc for use on other device (and not to forget you can resell/trade the disc version when you are done).

Netflix is now on everything: Blu-Ray players, xBox 360, PS3, Wii and the iPad (iPhone version coming soon?).  For $10/month you can stream thousands of movies from their servers.  This is the way that media consumption needs to be to stop piracy!

And not to be forgotten, Joost is also available.

Sony has released a video player- of sorts.  It appears to only play trailers of upcoming movies…


This is the initial release of the device, so there are some issues.  I have had a few ‘memory low, try rebooting’ warnings and several crashes that drop be back to the main screen.  There are also Wi-Fi issues where the device will not auto-rejoin known networks- or release connectivity on SSIDs that are no longer available.  All of these are small issues that will should be fixed with the next firmware update from Apple.

One minor complaint about iBooks/iTunes is that it mixes eBooks and AudioBooks under on category in iTunes.


The iPad is more of a media consumption device; it is very hard to create this post due to lack of physical keyboard and multi-tasking. OS4 is due out in fall for the iPad, so hopefully that will remedy some of the concerns- and hopefully a good jailbreak for OS3.2 will be released one the 3G version of the iPad is released in another few weeks! :)