The Sony Dash falls into the awkward category of picture frames that do more than show pictures. The HP Dream Screen (recently shelved) and the cute Chumby both fall into the same arena; desk mates that keep you company. Sony adds some extra style and Sony love to the Dash in the hopes that it will distinguish it from others. Priced at an MSRP of $200, the Dash works well as a product of novelty rather than one of utility (which it is designed for), and fits in as either an alarm clock with extra features in the bedroom, or a family calendar or recipe book with weather updates in the kitchen.
When we first opened up the Dash box, we were not overly impressed with its design and looks. The Logitech Squeezebox for example, has that “wow factor” when you open it up and first power it on. The Sony Dash has a timid hint of Sony’s normal sex appeal, but you quickly realize that the Dash was built prioritizing utility over style. In other words, this baby was meant to be touched and manhandled. The outside casing uses a hard rubber that is built to withstand solid use. And while it’s by no means waterproof, the Dash had no problem taking a splash of water or food, and was easy to clean off.
The wedge shape of the Dash allows you to use it in two orientations – one with it propped up and the other with it lying down. The screen will flip to whatever orientation you decide to use – even the Sony logo disappears when the Dash is laid down to stay consistent with the look.
The 7-inch, color touch screen looks decent for a product in this price range. The colors are fairly bright, but screen sharpness leaves something to be desired. If you look at the Dash up close, it almost looks like a thin, hazy film is covering things up. Located on the top of the Dash is a snooze button that doubles as the menu button, and the volume controls. A small rubber shield on the left hand side covers up the USB and audio jacks.