As an evolution of one of CNET's favorite technological misfits, the Chumby, the Sony Dash offers a range of online news and media, boiled down to a small, simple, touch-screen device. We can't say it's the most practical piece of tech you'll own, but at $199, it packs just enough features to justify a place in any tech addicted home.
Powered off, the wedge-shaped design of the Dash looks more like a glorified doorstop than a Personal Internet Viewer (as Sony titles it). Plug in the included power adapter, and you'll realize that the Dash's unassuming design is only there to set the stage for the real star of the show: the screen.
The color LCD on the Dash measures 7 inches diagonally, and offers a bright and crisp view of default information, such as the local weather and time. The screen also responds to touch, allowing you to pull up menus and juggle between different media.
On the top of the Dash you'll see 2.5-inch-wide Menu button that also acts as a snooze for the built-in alarm clock. To its right, an inch-wide volume rocker allows fine control over audio. The back of the Dash is bare; the bottom houses a recessed power adapter input. Battery power is not an option.
A hinged door on the side of the Dash gives access to a 3.5mm headphone output, as well as a standard USB port. In theory, users can load music, videos, or photos by connecting a thumb drive to the USB port, but the firmware on the unit we tested didn't allow it (it's coming soon, apparently).
Above all else, you should know that the Dash takes 100 percent of its features from the Internet. If you don't have Wi-Fi in your home, the Dash is about as useful as a baked potato. During the initial setup, the Dash will show a list of available wireless networks and allow you to enter in any required passwords using an onscreen keyboard. The Dash will remember and automatically join the network you set up.