Sony Dash

A couple months ago, my friends at Sony sent me a new device called the Sony Dash. I brought it home and gave it to the Gotham Gal. She is using it as a bedside clock radio and not taking advantage of very many of its features. But my son expressed an interest in having one on his bedside table and so I got another.

He set it up to do four things; tell him what time it is, tell him what the weather is, give him his ESPN fix, and give him his Facebook fix. The clock rotates through sports news from ESPN, and photos and status updates from his friends on Facebook.

Here's the clock showing sports news from ESPN:

Josh's dash espn 

And here is the clock showing status updates from Facebook (sorry about the blurry photo):

Josh's dash 

In light of all the buzz about Flipboard, which I still can't connect to Facebook and Twitter, I think we are seeing an important new development. Social media clients are moving beyond the desktop, laptop, and smartphone onto new kinds of devices like the iPad and the Dash.

I was skeptical about the Dash when I first used it. It is a bit clunky to set up. The UI could use some serious simplification. But once you set it up, it's largely a "set it and forget it" kind of thing. And every time I walk into my son's room, I learn something about sports and his friends. It is actually an excellent user experience for a bedside clock, at least it is for my son.

You can connect the Dash to much more than ESPN and Facebook. It does Twitter, of course, and YouTube, and a ton of other web services too. It's a bit pricey for a bedside clock, but I expect the cost will come down pretty quickly for devices like this and we should be looking at sub $100 price points in the next year. If you are into gadgets and the web, this could be for you.


Comments (Archived):

  1. David Noรซl

    Looks like Flipboard started gradually deploying Twitter & Facebook support:

    1. fredwilson

      I just tried for the umpteenth time and no luck

      1. kirklove

        You have to download 1.1. You will be prompted for your email. They’ll then contact you when you are eligible to sign up.

        1. fredwilson

          thanks. i’ll do that Kirk.

  2. Infinitycustoms

    Read this in FlipBook on my iPad. ๐Ÿ™‚ How ya like them Apples?

  3. Harry DeMott

    Cool. My Chumby just died in an electrical storm and I need a new alarm clock. Maybe I’ll give it a try. That said, there’s something comforting about having a battery operated clock – they rarely experience technical difficulties.

    1. Evan

      I agree. When it comes to clocks, I want redundancy in my system, not something else that doesn’t work if the power goes out.I’d be way more into this if it included an universal remote (with auto-discover) for anything electronic in my house: thermostat, etc etc.

  4. Jason

    don’t you get frustrated by toys like this?it’s 2010, Sony should’ve (could’ve) had 5 tablets, 3 smartphones, and a bravia with browser standard doing this by now, yet we’re finally just getting an alarm clock.

    1. Antonio Tedesco

      I agree. From a company with such a long history of innovative, groundbreaking products this is pretty sad. I’m OK with my alarm clock remaining a dumb appliance.

  5. marfi

    I like the idea of the device. As the HTC ad says “It’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see in the evening” and actually this is how I am using my HTC – after setting the alarm I read some stuff, comment here and there and sleep soundly untill I hear the alarm and then open twitter (my new newspaper and get my “fix”) so why not have this on a larger screen by the bedsite? Totally cool with me. Plus “the status of a phone and alarm clock screen” should ON by default. Is this the case with the Sony Device (if connected I see no issues). And while cooking or cleaning I can indeed see (what about voice reading me the news ๐Ÿ™‚ what is on ๐Ÿ™‚ Like it!

  6. ErikSchwartz

    I believe this is just a repackaged Chumby.It’s basically Pointcast with social feeds.

  7. Mark Essel

    Now you can unintentionally snoop on your son’s Facebook friends.Stowe Boyd mentioned Flioboard scrapes page content, but Robert Scoble responded that Flioboard follows RSS rules for republication.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      Gizmodo had something about the scraping issue It seems pretty obvious they are scraping.Is it just me, or does $10.5 million seems like a lot?

      1. Mark Essel

        It’s pretty high.Good on them

      2. LIAD

        Flipboard – gorgeous website, great app UI-$10.5 million buckaroos from Kleiner is a bit nuts – is it not just an rss reader/web scraper with a lot of polish? – ‘server problems’ = PR trick to create artificial scarcity and ongoing press attention?

        1. ShanaC

          Well, it’s definitely fascinating how much people will pay for great UI.

        2. fredwilson

          there must be some grand plan to move from social media client/rss reader to something elsebecause if there is not, then 10mm is nuts

          1. ErikSchwartz

            It’s more than nuts.If this takes off, then Apple will build it into iOS. Apple owns Flipboard’s distribution so Apple gets to choose the price they pay (assuming they will pay anything).I wrote more here…

          2. kenberger

            you might be missing 2 big pieces:1. John Doerr (of Kleiner) is on a personal mission to ensure that iPad (and big iPad apps) are “world changing”. He said as much at the techcrunch conf in nyc recently.2. Mike McCue is ceo; he’s a serial entrep of the first order.I’d bet there are much bigger plans for this than what we see now, at the very beginning.

          3. ErikSchwartz

            My point is that if you need the app store to distribute then you only exist at the pleasure of Steve Jobs and Apple.If Apple really likes this and clones it, there better be a good plan B.

          4. kenberger

            totally agreed w/ that point, which is why I pointed to the Doerr/Jobs connection (allegedly tight for a long time). Although of course, who knows what will happen here.

          5. ShanaC

            screwing apple for the UX?

          6. RichardF

            nuts…unless you need $10m in bragging rights when you are trying to sell a white label version or enter into a content deal with media co’s

  8. Rob

    I love the idea but the price will have to come down before I would consider getting one, especially considering I already have an iPad. And Flipboard is working for me (at least it was yesterday).

  9. Eric Leebow

    This looks great, would be interested in it. It reminds me of Chumby, yet with a bigger screen.

  10. maxkalehoff

    My friends at Sony also sent me a Dash to review and I really think there’s something to it. We set up our Dash in our kitchen, the busiest room in our home. In the past month, the Dash has earned its place as one of our familyโ€™s central appliances. 1) The Dash is prompting a new genre of passive Internet media consumption, i.e., Flickr feed, Netflix, weather, Pandora. 2) It’s simple and rugged. 3) It is much more than an alarm clock and while $199 may be a little expensive now, it’s still a completely lower price bracket for Internet devices. I wrote a review here:

  11. Aviah Laor

    And what if these gadgets work two-way?Until now the only physical signal someone can send you was to call and make your phone ring.Now suppose you let a someone to access your alarm remotely to wake you on time for something? OK, to wake you they can still just call and ring the phone ๐Ÿ™‚ But the idea. Bring the social thing to access and let access things around you. A bit weird.

  12. John Levitt

    Wow…I can see this turning into digital signage advertising for the home. Very interesting.

  13. jonsteinberg

    Looks like Chumby

    1. fredwilson

      they built V1 on chumby code

  14. sfmitch

    I don’t see the Sony Dash having much success.Sure, if Sony gave me one, I would probably set it up, but spending $100+ on a Sony Dash seems unlikely.Just curious, did you buy the 2nd one or did Sony give it to you?I see this device offering a poor value proposition – as more and more people get smartphones, iPod Touches (small tablets), iPads (medium to large tablets), internet connected TVs, etc. where does the Dash fit in? It’s a limited, fixed position device.We’ll sow how it does in the marketplace – will people spend their own $$$ on it??

  15. saieva

    I’ve been using the Slim Devices (, acquired by Logitech) products for several years, maybe over 10 years at this point. The Dash looks a lot like the current Squeezebox Touch device.Slim also develops an (optional) open source server-side product (called the Squeezebox Server) that I run on AWS to stream music back to Squeezebox devices at locations in NJ and PA. The product also supports apps / plugins like Facebook, Pandora,, etc. Works great.Sal.—Salvatore Saieva

  16. Da_mato

    Couldn’t you just make an iPad app that does all of this?

    1. fredwilson

      the dash is a bedside clock, made by a company that has literally sold hundreds of millions of themform factor does matter

      1. Da_mato

        I’ve purchased a Sony clock back in ’02 I think I spent $30 on it. In ’07 I put it away in storage after I got an iPhone. (I Iet go of my wristwatch several earlier when I got a mobile phone) In general I want to deal with less devices not more. My wake up routine consists of checking the time, FB news feed, weather and e-mail. A larger form factor would be better for only reading e-mail, and would only be a marginally better.This is exactly the type of thing I would expect to find at the sharper image. Expensive, looks like a great gift idea, but ultimately is not what most consumers want.Bottom line: Too little added value for smartphone owners, way too expensive.

        1. Christian Brucculeri

          To your point, the majority of teens sleep with their phones by their beds and don’t need alarm clocks:…My blackberry is my alarm clock.

        2. ShanaC

          The mobile phones make me want to bring batch the wristwatch. It’s something that always is falling to the bottom of my bag, battery life, does bazillion other things. I feel like an elegant, cool wristwatch would solve the problem of always looking for my phoneAnd I think if you are reading your email from your clock, you need to find ways of finding a few moments for yourself when you wake up and sleep. It’s just a huge time/mental pressure to have your email blinking at you.

          1. @billg

            Shana,I think you’re right. We’ll all soon be receiving hundreds of mobile ‘interrupts’ each day in the form of text messages, emails, LBS alerts, social networking alerts, and a myriad of other forms of push communications.Digging into my pocket or handbag hundreds of times each day isn’t the answer. Making it easier for people to consume these notifications through elegantly simple, glanceable mobile displays – camouflaged as a fashion or sport watch – is a real opportunity.

  17. falicon

    Probably the best thing to come from this is the idea that I might be able to ‘Snooze’ my friends ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      andrew parker built twitter snooze a few years backi think we’ve all had that urge at one time or another

  18. Rcflora

    I like what the Dash hints at in things to come. Internet *appliances*. Just like a toaster, microwave or coffeemaker have become so common place that they blend into the landscape of our households, I believe so will internet devices where internet content can be consumed without having to turn on your computer.

  19. HowieG

    We will be having a ton of cheap Tablets/Slates or even lower end devices like this coming out. I think that is a good thing. I know Apple gets a lot of chatter and they have high margins etc whether for the IPhone or the IPad. But while the Urban Myth is they are market leaders, they are actually technology leaders. They will never sell 440mil IPhones like Nokia sold phones last year. But Apple doesn’t care. They just want the high end. And if that means making billions having 5-10% of a large market they are happy with that and should be.So while many of these devices will get coined ‘Is this an IPad killer’ that is a lie. The lower end devices aren’t going after the IPad user. Just like Swatch never went after Rolex owners.

    1. ShanaC

      You remind me how I am still looking for that perfectly awesome watch.On both Swatch and Rolex- they are both style markers and taste markers of a different kind. if you add Nooka in the mix, my feeling about what you are saying is that there is a device for accessing content casually for everyone/anyone.Rolexes you can wear anywhere (nearly, do not wear to your child’s extremely formal wedding, leave the watch at home and have a good time instead)Swatches are style statements in a nearly lowbrow, (I’ve seen one years ago that was designed as the stem of the rose, thorns and all, for mother’s day)- however they are statement making for their very concious color choices. More tossable, sure, great at the moment items. Always doable with jeans, and unless you have fab style, no way you can wear it to testify in court.Nookas fall somewhere in between. Not a tossable, definitely not something you want to wear with a bankers style suit. Though always doable with jeans.I suspect that digital consumption items will fall somewhere along these lines as well: The always there usable classic item, the semi-classic, and the toss.

  20. Guillermo Ramos

    Have a look at this article around a “semi IPAD” made in India for 35$ (expecting to lower to $10). As it happened with desktops, laptops , hardware is not a sweet place to be unless you are a First Mover (Apple) hitting hard and quickly. Think big and fast or donยดt think.

  21. kenberger

    it’s backlit and always on (I assume) That’s a major difference from an ipad or smartphone that you need to nudge all the time to check. This is an “at a glance” device.a key market here would seem to be replacing having your smartphone next to your bed. but this conspicuously lacks email, which many would like to at least check, if not be able to respond to (or maybe there’s an email widget).

    1. fredwilson

      yes, this is really well designed to be a bedside deviceit even has a “dark mode” which the gotham gal uses

      1. ErikSchwartz

        The moto droid has an actual bedside dock.

    2. BillSeitz

      If you launch the Clock app on a NexusOne, and it’s plugged in, it stays “alive”. And after some period of time it turns to black screen with green numbers on it.

  22. Nikhil Nirmel

    I’ve always thought that there should be a little device (whose hardware is like this) that people have in their homes which features specials at local businesses. Sure you can look online, but looking online usually relates to searching for things you know you want. There are plenty of local products and services that you would want or need if you were aware of it, or if you were aware of its price point. You could give households the devices for free (or at least heavily subsidized) and charge huge premiums to local businesses for being featured. Any takers on investing? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. KareAnderson

    How does Dash affect sleep patterns? Maybe you and Brad Feld can do a combo experiment using both Zeo and Dash ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Tereza

    Cool. So if I want my website/application to feed into it — which would make a ton of sense — how do I do that?Who should I be talking to, and what questions should I be asking?

      1. Tereza

        Thank you so much, Unregistered Guest!Since I can’t express my gratitude more directly, I’ll have to let karma do it.Have a great weekend!

  25. adityac

    Reminds me of a startup that was at TC disrupt that is doing something similar but using Android as the hardware platform to begin with:

  26. BillSeitz

    That whole “rotate through multiple sources” model doesn’t work for me (I have a Chumby as a clock in the basement). If you look over for the purpose of getting a piece of info, you have to wait for that one to scroll by.Now, having a bigger screen which lets you see 4 things at a glance, that could be cool. Though I don’t think I’d put it next to my bed… (hmm ChatRoulette?)

  27. ceonyc

    Or, you could just wake up and look at your phone…

  28. ShanaC

    While I believe in an internet of appliances, and even could believe in the Chumbly/Sony Dash appraoch, I think your experience saying “Oh Clunky Setup” is a real holdback for many people. And while I want a custom radio of everyone I follow on Tumblr to wake me up in the morning, I rather the thing be redudant and have these sorts of tasks networked back to the computer and sent to the device. If the device (mostly) fails, then I still need a functioning alarm clock.Granted, you’re also taking the opinion of a person whose favorite alarm clocks are truly mechanical clock (I like the sound of things ticking, when I had them, it made it easier to sleep. Kept overwinding them though.)

  29. Douglas Crets

    All I want is an interactive wall unit, about four feet tall by about four feet wide, installed in each of my important rooms in my house, and I want to be able to touch it with my fingers and get news, media, video clips and send information to the house, to my friends, to media institutions, to clients, without having to sit down. I’m like Hemingway when I write. I hate desks.

  30. Steve Tomlin

    Yes, as several commenters have noted, including Fred, though not in the body of this post, chumby software and apps are a big part of the Sony dash and are specifically behind the apps that Fred mentions in this post. chumby software now powers a number of these types of always-on/at-a-glance devices (becoming their own category of “personal internet players”): the Sony dash, the Insignia (Best Buy) Infocast, the chumby one and the chumby classic, and with more on the way, including televisions and tablets. And chumby will also be an application layer on top of Android, so many Android-powered devices can also have this capability. The big difference from a user experience standpoint vs. say smartphones or computers, as Fred notes but that several commenters don’t quite grasp (understandably because you really have to experience it), is the advantage of this device being always on and always streaming — in other words, you don’t have to walk over and poke at it to get it to do something (though you can), it just keeps playing one app after the next in a stream. This is handy if, say, you’re in the kitchen and busy, or lying in bed, or having it sit next to your computer as you work so you can catch things out of the corner of your eye. It’s really for fun and “nice to know” stuff like traffic, weather, tweets, gossip, family photos, and not necessarily for critical on-demand information: for that you want a browser — and you already have one on many other devices. So this is a different way to consume your favorite parts of the internet and more like leaving the TV or radio playing than launching apps on an iPad or searching in a browser on your laptop. But one chumby account can feed all of these different types of “chumby-powered” devices, so once you set up a channel of the info you care about (like Fred’s son’s 4 things), these will simply play on any other chumby-powered device he might get in the future, so no need to download, install and register new apps from an app store for each device.Just a different way of doing things, and at chumby we’re glad to hear that Fred’s son and wife have both found ways for chumby to fit in their life. That’s the point. More discussion on what the point of chumby is discussed here: tomlinceochumby industries, inc.

  31. Senith @ MBA tutor

    Why not have an iphone or a bb app that does this! One less gadget to think about. And far less expensive (assuming you already use a smart phone!)

  32. Amol Sarva

    I have a chumby and like it. Yes it works great where tabletop radios work — like bedside table or in our case in the kitchen.Greatest flaw is the “rotate through stuff”. The A-1 valuable app we like is weather — in the morning, before getting dressed, know the weather. But if you have lots of stuff like news or entertainment rotating through, you can’t get weather at a glance.So…we literallly have it only on weather. It’s a weather clock.But no a phone is no substitute!

  33. Wells Baum

    I keep waiting for a watch to connect to social media, give me ESPN updates, amongst other great 3G things.

  34. shirley

    i wish i had the money to get one all my friends said it is great to have