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A Companion Unobtrusive--Except During Setup
Written: May 14, 2012 (Updated May 18, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Just about any app you could want, short of financial transactions.
Cons:Plug in only, no browser, warm when in use, set up an irritation
The Bottom Line: This little box is fun, but short on usefulness. While there are 1000's of apps, you can't take the box with you. Limited visibility, fair sound quality--not worth money.
What It Is
It’s called a “Home Information Device” and displays time, weather, scrolls through news headlines and allows access to streaming radio stations such as Pandora, or video such as Netflix, or Amazon.com streaming. It allows display of personal pictures and music which can be uploaded through a thumb drive or a USB cable. It is subject to a wide variety of uses, but also sharp restrictions.
Power: AC 120 V 0.6A 60 Hz, no battery back up
DC Input: 9.5V 1.5A 14.25W
Audio Output Power: 1W + 1W (8 omega rated speakers)
LCD panel: 7” WVGA (800 x 480 resolution)
Dimension: 7&1/2in x 5&1/2in x 2&3/8in WHD (tapering toward the top)
Mass: 1.3 lbs.
Wireless: 802.11b/g 2.4 GHz
USB 2.0 Mass Storage class
Documentation: 1) Owner’s Guide, 2) Limited 1-Year Warranty 3) Important Information Guide 4) End User License Agreement for Certain Software For Your Dash Device
Price: $149.99 (According to the Sony website, which also says this is no longer available. Go figure)
What It Does
As there is no web browser, the web is navigated by its many apps, which are applied most easily through the Sony website. There seems to be no end to these, though they seem to fall in a few many categories: 1) news 2) sports 3) gossip 4) music. Some social networking sites, such as Facebook are also available, but in an abbreviated form. I found an app that displays the phases of the moon.
What It Did
One requires a wireless network to boot (indeed to run) the little thing. Upon completion of the first boot, one gets the error message, “Updates required. No updates available.” The Dash is asking to be plugged in to a desktop (or presumably laptop would work) by its USB drive for those updates. We did this by thumb drive as Mr. Siduri just happened to have a brand spanking new one. If he hadn’t, we could have found an otherwise unassigned USB cable, but that would have meant unplugging, replugging and rebooting the Dash closer to a desktop, or firing up the laptop and pressing it into service. This is a small inconvenience, perhaps, but I grumbled that it seemed pretty cheap of Sony not to include a thumb drive or a USB cable if they were going to make set up this awkward.
The main screen immediately displays time and temperature, and an area scrolls through news headlines. It is quite bright, and the unit gets warm quickly to the touch, as does the screen. Unable to find the infrared thermometer immediately, we pressed an old thermocouple into service. The readings jumped around quite a bit (given the nature of the beast) but I got temps off the scree around 88°, a degree or two cooler from the back. After ten minutes in “night” mode, i.e., displaying the time against a dark screen, front and back had cooled to about 83°. After 15 minutes in “power saver” (black screen), I still got about 80°. It was only after this that I thought to look at the ambient room temperature, which was 78°.
The display will flip top to bottom as the unit is laid down on is back. The might make for an interesting way to watch movies, but given the heat, I’d rather it stay upright with as much contact with the air as possible, even if the thermocouple readings were a bit skewed by a warm room.
The apps include such things as Amazon streaming (for a price) and Netflix, for no added price if you already have a Netflix account. For such “premium” apps, you have to register your Dash, which can be accomplished online with little hassle. I did this on a desktop, as I found the touchscreen keyboard insensitive and was reluctant to bang away at the screen. There are a number of default apps, such as the New York Times headlines which scroll alternately with CNBC headlines. There is also an Earthcam that switches between a couple of different public sites. Since it has an alarm, one of the default apps which works well with that is Islamic prayer times. Though that particular app is of no use to me personally, I found it interesting. I noticed that the NPR news app that I selected hung the system.
The time display in night mode is large enough that I can easily see it without my glasses in the dark. The screen also glows a bit. There is also a “power saver” mode, reached my tapping a button in the night mode. The screen is black and the Dash essentially off. One has only to touch it or move it to get it back to night mode, though, and touch it a second time to get it back to the main—bright—screen, which could be a good thing or a bad thing.
This is not something that I would have bought for myself, but I don’t know of anyone else who has a wireless system and would need or want an item with its particular restrictions. I will probably keep it to watch Netflix by myself or listen to music. The picture quality is not bad, especially in a screen that size, but it's definitely for one person only. The sound, again, while not bad, is far from being the best, but since it is a tiny unit, one can cut it some slack. Certainly the audio in the documentary on Cream (there I go, showing my age again) I watched on Netflix was perfectly fine. At its loudest, the volume will not rattle the pictures on your neighbors' walls, though.
I received this as part of Epinions’s “Review it!” Program and would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Christal and to those involved for the fun I have had playing with the little device and for the chance to review it.
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