sonydash_openerWHAT: Sony Dash Personal Interview Viewer

PRICE: $200

FUN FACT: You can peep the Sony Dash in the Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston video "Eenie Meanie." Or you can go about living your life.

HERE'S THE DEAL: Soon, everything you use will connect to the Internet. It's not too far-fetched a notion: We already have refrigerators that stream YouTube videos, pens that display news headlines, and Flickr-connected photo frames. So we're not surprised to see an alarm clock that can lull you to sleep with a NetFlix movie and wake you up with your favorite Pandora station, like the Sony Dash can. In fact, we've seen it before with the Chumby. But where the Chumby was soft, cuddly, and a little slow, the Dash is sleek, attractive, and quick. Do you need an Internet-enabled alarm clock? No, you don't. That's why Sony dubbed the Dash a "personal internet viewer," implying that your laptop or smartphone are a bit too impersonal, and placing it right in the crosshairs of the Apple iPad and other upcoming tablet computers. Does it hold its own, or will its lunch get eaten like UMPCs? We played around with one to find out...

Fast and Responsive. The Dash is running a 500MHz processor and 256MB of RAM, which seems to be plenty for operating all the currently available widgets at a decent speed. Unlike the Chumby, the Dash's seven-inch capacitive touchscreen was responsive to our touch.
Nice, Bright Screen.The key to Internet devices is the screen. If a device can't make the 'Net look better than it would on a laptop, what's the point? The Dash's screen delivers with crisp images and good tonal balance. For the few times you actually pick it up, the screen will automatically orientate itself.
Good Speakers. Watching a NetFlix movie on a device with bad speakers is a fail. Sony came through with a good set of stereo speakers upfront that deliver credible sound for music and movies. Granted, it can't knock, but for a device that's supposed to be sitting on your nightstand, the sound is more than adequate.
Unobtrusive Operating System. The Dash runs a version of Linux. It's stable and out of your way, the way it should be. Sony should do this for more of its products, Internet-connected or not.
Good App Selection. It doesn't have the extensive app selection of the iPad, but the apps it does have are well-designed and easy to use.
Awesome Photo Frame. Ever wanted to try one of those digital photo frames, but couldn't justify spending the dough? Well, if you cop the Dash, you'll have one of the best digital frames we've ever come across.
Sony Dash_middle

Awkward shape. Sony expects people to want to pick up the Dash and interact with it like a tablet, but the shape is too uncomfortable to do so. We couldn't see ourselves holding it to watch a whole flick, or even a YouTube clip.
Poor Battery Life. Sony also wants people to take the Dash away from their nightstands, but the battery life wasn't good enough for us to leave it around the crib and forget about it for a day.


FINAL WORD: We like the Dash. It does what it's made to do very well: deliver quick Internet-fueled entertainment. But everything we can do with the Dash, we can do just as well, or better, with another one of our products that connects to the Internet. Our phones have an alarm on them, our iPad has a bigger screen and can stream NetFlix and YouTube, and we can listen to Pandora on just about anything. So where does the Dash fit in? We're not sure. If the price was a little lower, we could probably justify it as an awesome bedside gadget, or maybe even a cool kitchen appliance. As is...the choice is yours.