January 28, 2011 10:07 PM   Subscribe

So how's the Chumby, now that it's been around a while? Are there other control-freak customizable alarm clocks?

Okay, we need a better alarm clock.

We need one that can play variable provided audio without breaking (dratted fragile CD alarm clocks); we both get used to any individual alarm sound and start sleeping through it. We've been using the beep after our latest alarm clock's CD player has broken, and we're both sleeping through it now. MP3 from thumb drive would be great, or CD if there's one that has a more reliable mechanism.

We need dual alarms.

We'd love weekday/weekend alarms.

We'd like something that will snooze indefinitely on days we don't really want to get up yet.

We didn't really want to spend a ton on this, but it seems like we're not going to find what we want for less than $100 anyway, and almost all of them will require us to *also* buy an ipod to plug into the alarm.

We're both scatterbrains, and anything we'd carry around during the day and NEED to put in the bedroom to act as an alarm...well, not a viable option. No smartphone, for example.

So hey, the Chumby exists. What's it like? Is it buggy? Is it stable? Is it, most of all, reliable?

Are there other similar options?
posted by galadriel to Technology (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I wondered this myself; I asked a similar question about alarm clocks two years ago and ended up with a Philips AJL308.

Chumby Industries announced a new version a few weeks ago, but I haven't heard a release date or a price.

And you might prefer the look of The Sony Dash, which runs Chumby apps.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:33 PM on January 28, 2011

I have a Neverlate Alarm clock. It is really good and may do what you want.
posted by fifilaru at 11:44 PM on January 28, 2011

Seconding the Neverlate Executive Alarm Clock. It does just about everything you're asking for and comes in at $60.
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 12:37 AM on January 29, 2011

Should mention it's sold out on the American Inovation website linked by fifilaur, but available on if you find it fits your needs.
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 12:38 AM on January 29, 2011

OK, I've been using a Chumby as my main alarm clock and I love's why:
- It's quite cute, soft and squeezable for an alarm clock. Just don't let anyone mistake it for one of those ones you throw...
- It took me a while, but I programmed the alarms in a way that I can't possibly sleep through. So it starts by playing the excellent Radio Paradise for a bit, then at 8am I get the serious beeps for a minute, then back to RP for an hour, weekdays only. Oh, and I've set it up to switch to night mode at midnight so I don't have to turn it off.
- It's really reliable- I sometimes lose the internet signal due to having a wireless repeater and an unusually lengthy flat, but in that instance it will just beep instead of playing music.
- There's a whole host of other features I don't use (collection of sleep sounds for example), and things tend to get added to it a lot. Like there's now a one step "skip" button for your next alarm that wasn't there before.

There's never a reason to buy an ipod in life- the chumby has a capability for playing off a USB stick quite easily. I think the Chumby One has a battery backup, although tbh I've never missed that in the chumby classic.
A lot of people are very attached to the widgets, and to start with I had all the fancy bits (news, weather, tube updates), but these days I just have a selection of funky clocks on a one is the BBC clock.

Strongly strongly recommended (I'm now a huge fan), happy to answer further questions.
posted by welovelife at 4:36 AM on January 29, 2011

Thirding the Neverlate. Very happy with mine.
posted by neilbert at 6:56 AM on January 29, 2011

Response by poster: Neverlate told me that they do not have a product that plays your own music as an alarm, just has the capability to use it as a set of speakers. Are you folks recommending the Neverlate using it with MP3's? as an alarm?
posted by galadriel at 7:18 AM on January 29, 2011

It appears that the Neverlate does not have the capacity to input any external data (e.g. MP3s). From the spec sheet FAQ:
Q: What is the USB port designed for?

The USB port is a standard 5V USB port but contains no facility for data transmission. It was included so that small lamps, fans and other similar devices (originally designed for laptop computers) could be utilized on the bedside. The USB port may be able to be used to power and/or charge some PDA and/or cell phone devices however since there are so many different devices on the market AI makes no specific claims regarding use of the USB port for these purposes.

posted by sockraticpielogue at 11:25 AM on January 29, 2011

Love my old soft Chumby, but having to keep it tethered to the wall is a real pain. It doesn't reboot after a power cut. I've heard the Chumby One has a battery backup though.
posted by media_itoku at 2:41 PM on January 29, 2011

The Neverlate also has no capacity for Internet Radio, one of the Chumby's best features. Lack of battery backup is a problem for the chumby, if you're prone to nighttime powercuts you may wish to go for the Chumby One instead. But generally AC only power isn't a big deal- how often do you need to carry your alarm clock round?
posted by welovelife at 4:43 AM on January 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks folks.

Tethered to the wall isn't a problem; what we need is something we *can't* absent-mindedly carry out of the bedroom and forget about, so hey. The chumby one is the only thing available on their site right now, and it does have a battery backup (rechargeable, even) so hopefully our frequent power outages won't be a problem.

I've gone ahead and ordered the chumby one; I think our main concern was reliability. As long as it's reliable, hopefully it will solve our waking-up woes.

I am curious, in case you come back, MegoSteve: what made you decide to get the Phillips? And you didn't say anything about your experience with it, positive or negative.
posted by galadriel at 9:38 AM on February 4, 2011

Response by poster: So far the Chumby is working well. Different sounds to wake up to every morning, it goes off at various times to help us get awake in the morning (like, my alarm goes off on radio about half an hour before I need to wake up, then when I do need to wake up it sounds a bugle), and the weekday/weekend alarms are delightful.

After it arrived and I played with it for an afternoon, I did feel mildly regretful that it'll live in the bedroom and I won't play with it much. But we ordered it to fill a very specific need, and bedroom alarm clock it is :)
posted by galadriel at 7:12 AM on February 19, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, so much for the mild regret about it not being portable. Cnet has it half price today and we're going to get a second one for the living room.
posted by galadriel at 10:37 AM on February 24, 2011

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