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The internet is full of data, yet most of us can only can access that wealth of information through a computer or tablet. The Nimbus Dashboard is a physical implementation of live data – four individual dials that can be customised to display information relevant to you. That’s a pretty awesome idea – but how useful is the end product, really?

To find out, we purchased the Quirky Nimbus Dashboard with our own money to help us determine if you, in turn, should spend your hard-earned money on it. At the end of this article, we’ll be giving our review unit away.

From the company namesake, “Quirky” is an apt description for this product, but it also describes the production process. Quirky is a user-driven company: users design products, vote on those they’d like to see made, and Quirky then takes those designs to reality – paying a fee to the idea creator. Products are hit and miss, understandably, but they’re almost always unique and designed to solve real world problems. The Nimbus was designed by Ryan Pendleton, apparently.

quirky nimbus dashboard review

The Nimbus is named after cloud formations, I assume because it gathers data from the cloud. The premise that it takes a source of information, and display that in both an analogue dial form and digital output – a customisable, real world dashboard of data thats important to you. It costs $130, and there’s not really any similar products on the market. The Thingm Blink(1) is a USB LED that can be linked to different datasets, but it’s only output is a range of colours. There are numerous DIY projects to achieve something similar to the Nimbus, but nothing that can be purchased.

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quirky nimbus dashboard review

Design

In black, or white – as we chose – the Nimbus is much smaller than I expected, the diameter of each dial being about 5 centimetres total. For some reason, I expect larger: clock-sized or like a car speedometer.

quirky nimbus dashboard review

For reference, here’s the Nimbus compared to a banana – because that’s how we measure things on the internet.

quirky nimbus dashboard review

When placed flat, there are two microswitches at the front corners, such that pressing down on the Nimbus anywhere will trigger them – these are used to turn off the alarm and display alternate data views such as current weather for the temperature module.

nimbus dashboard review

It’s certainly pleasing to look at, except for the hideous glossy plastic – seriously, can we just agree right now to only use matte plastic coating on anything from now on?

The dial hands themselves have a hairline white indicator but are otherwise black. Given the face of the dials is also black, the hands simply don’t contrast as much as I would like – which is a shame really, given how much of this product is focussed on them. The LED screen directly below glows a satisfying white, so it would have been nice to see that replicated on the dials.

nimbus dashboard review

Overall, it feels a little tacky; from the plastic dial faces to the hastily painted hairline whites of the hands. It strives for simplicity, but not in an Apple way. For the price, it’s an acceptable build quality – but I think there could be a market for a premium brushed aluminium and glass version with glowing dials – the Nimbus Pro. Get on it Quirky, and I’ll take that 10% cut, thank you kindly.

The App: Wink

Setup and configuration of the Nimbus – any Quirky product in fact – is done through the 35 megabyte mobile Wink application (have you ever wondered how many iOS apps there are called Wink? A lot. You’re looking for “Wink: Instantly Connected“).

After registering an account, an 8-screen simple walkthrough is displayed. Like the Remeé lucid dreaming headset Remee Lucid Dreaming Mask Review and Giveaway Remee Lucid Dreaming Mask Review and Giveaway The Remee Lucid Dreaming Mask (pronounced rem-may) claims to aid you in mastering the art of dream control; or as it's more commonly known, Lucid Dreaming. Join me as we lose ourselves down the rabbit hole;... Read More I reviewed last year, Wink-enabled devices are programmed by a kind of optical morse code – sequential flashes of light sent from your mobile – but you’ll also need to add your home WiFi details so they can fetch data over the Internet, as the light flashes are only used for the initial setup of the device.

nimbus-ios-setup

After entering your WiFi password, the app instructs you to locate the “home sensor” on the Wink device – since it’s compatible with a variety of devices, there’s no specific mention of Nimbus at this point. The Home sensor is around the back of the Nimbus, hidden discreetly between the rear of the central two dials.

quirky nimbus review

I must say, I really liked the way they eschew the more common USB cable method – you don’t need a computer at all, and it saves packaging yet another cable in the box. There are no “drivers” to worry about, for one.

Unfortunately, the Nimbus flat out refused to connect to my usual home network provided by an Apple Airport Extreme Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station Review and Giveaway Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station Review and Giveaway Today, I'll be putting the Apple AirPort Extreme through its paces, seeing how much of a benefit I'll achieve over the top tier router supplied by my cable company. Read More – I’ve had this problem with other embedded WiFi chips too, so it could be related to the AC and dual band technologies in the router. It worked fine through a standard A/B/G/N test network, but this is something to bear in mind if you’re buying the device. Although ultimately unable to help me, support was generally good – they were happy to call me and walk through some troubleshooting procedures.

What Can You Display?

The nimbus is currently limited to 9 different display modules.

  • Time: The alarm function however is separate, so you needn’t include the time display if you just want an alarm.
  • Weather: Locked to Farenheit, with the dial showing as a change from yesterday – central being no change, a swing left meaning colder, a swing right meaning hotter.
  • Traffic: Surprisingly rich in options compared to the “select city” weather report, traffic can be set to display either predicted travel time between a start and end point, or live traffic. It relies upon Apple Maps for info though, so make sure you have a post code handy.
  • Calendar: Only for Google Users, can display time of or time until next event.
  • Email: Again, Google only – displays the number of unread messages from a single account.
  • Facebook: Probably the most pointless of all the displays, though you have a choice of unread messages, likes on your latest post (seriously), comments on your latest post, or pending friend requests – the last one presumably for celebrities who find the daily chore of accepting requests too overwhelming.
  • Instagram: likes or comments on your latest post.
  • Twitter: Number of mentions or retweets.
  • FitBit: Calories burned, steps taken, or sleep duration

If you don’t think a combination of any 4 of the supplied modules would be of use to you, forget it. At the very least, I was expecting a stock price module – it’s stupidly simple to get from Google or Yahoo Finance – but, no. I was also optimistically hoping that it could read any arbitrary JSON or RSS feed – the standard format for information exchange between millions of websites.

nimbus-dashboard-config

This might be too advanced for most average users, but it does open up the Nimbus to thousands of willing developers and existing data sources. The iPad Status Board Keep An Eye On Everything with Panic StatusBoard for iPad Keep An Eye On Everything with Panic StatusBoard for iPad Are you the kind of very important person that needs to have one eye on stock prices every second? Are you constantly juggling appointments so much that opening up a dedicated calendar app to see... Read More app for example does just that, so there’s a thriving community of user-contributed widgets. None of that on the Nimbus: you have any info you want displayed, as long as it’s one of these nine – most of which are a pointless exercise in social media diarrhoea.

quirky nimbus review

The dials themselves – the central premise of the Nimbus in the first place – are just a pointless addition of unnecessary information. They’re supposed be an “at a glance” display, but the numbers they represent are arbitrarily defined in the Wink application and cannot be adjusted. On the predicted time to destination traffic module for example, 15 minutes is displayed as it would be on a clock, all the way up to 59 minutes being just left on the dial’s central point. There’s a disjoint between that, and the weather module for example, which swings left or right of the central point depending on whether it’ll be hotter or colder than yesterday.

The arbitrary decision of where the dial should swing would be acceptable if the Nimbus itself had a completely digital display so you could see context on the dial face – as it is, there’s no indication of what they mean except for on the iPhone app. I would, for instance, like the traffic display to show a neutral dial if the time is 15 minutes: this would be a reasonable time to take to drive my wife to work. On days of higher traffic, swing right; less traffic it would swing left. In fact, throw in a RGB LED so you can get immediate at a glance good or bad and that would be just great.

The premise of the Nimbus is awesome: a customisable, physical display. The practical realisation of this is atrocious, verging on utterly worthless – it’s a glorified alarm clock, and not even a very good one.

Should You Buy The Nimbus Dashboard?

If you’re a very active social media user who puts great emphasis on how many likes their latest Facebook post received, and live in the US – go ahead, you might love it! For international users, developers, hackers, and anyone hoping for customisation – move right along.

MakeUseOf recommends: Don’t buy.

How do I win the Nimbus Dashboard?

You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.

After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, January 10. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.

The Winner

Congratulations, Claire Blaney! You would have received an email from jackson@makeuseof.com. Please respond before January 15 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

  1. claire blaney
    January 16, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    thank you for picking me as the winner :)

  2. Charlita M
    January 11, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Can't think of any I would add.... seems sufficient... too bad it didn't meet MakeUseOf standards, BUT since it's a giveaway I'm cool with it... free is good.

  3. heather c
    January 11, 2014 at 3:18 am

    I am happy to see it displays FitBit, but would love to see it with front door camera ability and actual mailbox notification.

  4. Matthew W
    January 10, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Traffic app is awesome for the morning commute

  5. Beth Elder
    January 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Looks cool! Can;t think of anything.

  6. Choon K
    January 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Facebook, Instagram and Twitter always takes the most time. It would be helpful if I used this to reduce time wasted and my battery definitely last longer!

  7. JTT
    January 9, 2014 at 4:10 am

    It's OK for a "new" product :)

  8. Ariel C
    January 8, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    It's perfect!

  9. Corry L.
    January 8, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Looks like it has everything you would need.

  10. Alessio A
    January 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    amazing dashboard :D

  11. Alessio A
    January 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    amazing dashboard :D

  12. Keith W
    January 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    It looks pretty good to me.

  13. Roman K
    January 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Done steps

  14. Dmitriy S
    January 6, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    It’s great for me!

  15. Bogdan
    January 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    That's awesome!!!

  16. martina c
    January 5, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    It is very nice. Can't think of anything that could improve it

  17. Igor Soliar
    January 5, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    It’s perfect

  18. Victor Obizuyk
    January 5, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    It’s perfect as it is now!

  19. Mukola Obizuyk
    January 5, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    It’s perfect as it is now!

  20. andrii
    January 5, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Yea, it's great

  21. Cora R
    January 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

    it suites my needs, I wish it was able to wash my dishes though.

  22. Donnie S
    January 5, 2014 at 5:25 am

    I think it's a little cheesy, but it would be a brilliant addition to the desk of any social marketing pro-- or anyone who wants an interesting retro-futuristic conversation piece on their desk.

  23. Melissa Shirley
    January 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

    I would be fine with it. I think ti would be interesting

  24. Antonio R
    January 4, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    It would be nice to test it and so I will know if it fulfill my needs.

  25. Zyra Anne Perez
    January 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    it surely fulfill the social needs, and maybe addtl notif wouldnt hurt....

  26. Julie Gonzales
    January 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Any Additional feature upgrade if possible would be great. In terms of social media capabilities, yes this wud be useful

  27. Maryann G
    January 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    It seems rather useless unless you are a teenager in need of a social media boost to your ego..which I just happen to have. If it were geared toward actual adults with real world needs, I would enjoy the product, but as is..blah! Not for me, but my daughters may enjoy the toy! Thanks for the review.

  28. Kany Vic Perez
    January 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Yah it would fulfill my wants on social networks, but if it has the ability to give other notifs that with be great from the norms

  29. nat
    January 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    oh but it's perfect!

  30. Abdullah Khan
    January 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    i am satisfied with Quirky Nimbus Dashboard features

  31. Jo Booth
    January 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I can't think of any additional features, but might If I was lucky enough to win :-)

  32. Sam K
    January 4, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I really liked Nimbus Dashboard and can't think of anything missing in it.

  33. moorandro
    January 4, 2014 at 9:34 am

    It's perfect as it is now!

  34. Mark P
    January 4, 2014 at 6:45 am

    yes. this would come handy like getting notifications when busy using a certain application fullscreen. i wish it had better dials.

  35. Arvin
    January 4, 2014 at 12:06 am

    It will be perfect for me. No further add ons.

  36. Linda W
    January 3, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    It has what I want already but I would love to have regular traffic updates so I can plan my route while I'm driving.

  37. Poignant T
    January 3, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    i'd like to try it first but it looks cool!

  38. Meredith J
    January 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I like the FitBit features best.

  39. Hatim D
    January 3, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    it just might fullfil the need, it should have more features , notification wise

  40. MikeC
    January 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    integration with XBL or PSN would be neat!

  41. Denis K
    January 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    The quite good interface

  42. Marlene V.
    January 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I think it's great the way it is -- how cool!

  43. Hal
    January 3, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Voice command

  44. Adrian
    January 3, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Bigger displays

  45. Edmund S
    January 3, 2014 at 7:27 am

    No it does not. I wish it at least had the option to customize the dial background with a photo insert to make it looks more appealing.

  46. Vic L
    January 3, 2014 at 4:29 am

    I like it. Like a dash clock, but now with additional dashboard.

  47. Rayon
    January 3, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Es ist neu . ( I like cool looking item )

  48. Gaurav Bhargava
    January 3, 2014 at 3:03 am

    It just sounds like a cool product to have

  49. Martin W
    January 3, 2014 at 12:57 am

    I'd like a 2 way interface so that in times of information overload you can dial back the internet.

  50. Brian Kautz
    January 2, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    link to ombd 2 and gps

  51. Colin C
    January 2, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I am a geek so i just want it

  52. Boet W
    January 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Fit my needs? I don't really need it, I just want a dash board for my life.

  53. Joshua Schmidt
    January 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I hate checking my phone all the time for the same things. I have the Pebble Smartwatch but I would love a dashboard for everything else.

  54. Stoja Todoric
    January 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Yes, it does

  55. anthony harrington
    January 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I like the look of it, would give it a go, but I wouldn't pay out for it unless they address a lot of the points you make in your review.

  56. Amir M
    January 2, 2014 at 10:27 am

    no it doesn't

  57. Melissa M
    January 2, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Voice command

  58. Jasmin
    January 2, 2014 at 3:17 am

    Needs super fulfilled with a taste of class :)

  59. weilip
    January 2, 2014 at 2:31 am

    wish it could display pictures, you know, something like digital photo frame

  60. Nicholas
    January 2, 2014 at 1:52 am

    It's what I'm looking for but too bad it looks so silly

  61. Jason K
    January 2, 2014 at 1:31 am

    It does indeed!

  62. kiran
    January 1, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    just wanna check it out

  63. Ricky
    January 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Voice command

  64. elinor semira
    January 1, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    as per your review, it will not satisfy international readers. I live somewhere in Asia so it will not be so much helpful for me but somehow i would still ? to check it out. The customization thingy would be great.

  65. John Fin
    January 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Isn't this more or less a crippled Chumby/Sony dash? It didn't work out too well for them, and it was a lot more customizable. I still use a hacked chumby, and wish someone would make a modern replacement, but this needs to be more useful before I spend that much on one.

  66. Shyamprasad K A
    January 1, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Yes..it does fulfill my needs..

  67. Alfred Chan
    January 1, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Its a cool gadget and fulfill what I need, but if with build in radio would be perfect!! :)

  68. Bogdan D
    January 1, 2014 at 12:48 am

    It need more customization.

  69. elle cowan
    December 31, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    i'm not really sure, its an interesting idea though... :D

  70. David D.
    December 31, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    needs fulfilled

  71. Anthony
    December 31, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    doesn't quite fit my needs but I'd like to win it just the same

  72. Anne
    December 31, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Wish it would be customizable!

  73. yussuf
    December 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    i agree with the fells who said it shoud be an "open source"

  74. Andrew
    December 31, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    It doesn't sound like the Nimbus currently fits my needs. I wish that it allowed people to create their own feeds for it.

  75. Luis Miguel Zumaeta
    December 31, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    It should be able to switch to Celsius

  76. Jonathan S
    December 31, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Definitly a radio!

  77. Junil M
    December 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

    It does not fulfil all my needs. As Bruce says, it has lot to go.

  78. Gord M
    December 31, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Does not fulfill my needs. Could be a cool item to own but needs to be customizable.

  79. Adly A
    December 31, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Yes agree with you. It need more customization.

  80. Irving R
    December 31, 2013 at 7:18 am

    All I can say for now is "it's a cool gadget!".

  81. Tate S
    December 31, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Not really necessary, but it'd be cool to have one as an accessory in front of my PC while working

  82. chona
    December 31, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Only if it is just $9.99

  83. Colin Hong
    December 31, 2013 at 5:45 am

    It did. However, I wish it had Degree Celsius integration and Facebook integration.

  84. Aaron
    December 31, 2013 at 4:22 am

    It looks OK, but needs more customization.

  85. Naama S
    December 31, 2013 at 4:10 am

    It fulfil my needs :-)

  86. Alexander G
    December 31, 2013 at 3:23 am

    I like it, I want it

  87. bong
    December 31, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Yes! I want it support other social network

  88. Sean M
    December 31, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Pretty quirky item. I'd play with it for a bit and then it would collect dust

  89. John A
    December 31, 2013 at 2:59 am

    I think I would regift it.

  90. long
    December 31, 2013 at 2:43 am

    No idea for its using

  91. Michelle W
    December 31, 2013 at 2:17 am

    If it did laundry I would pay 100 times this

    • Milos D
      December 31, 2013 at 6:54 am

      What a review, nice one! No!

  92. Lisa Shoulders
    December 31, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Cool product, but not sure if I'd buy

  93. Doug D
    December 31, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Can't one get widgets to display the same data for free or practically so? This seems like a colosal waste of money to me.

  94. Charles Mills
    December 31, 2013 at 2:07 am

    I dont think I Know what I would use it for just yet!

  95. Ben Gillis
    December 31, 2013 at 1:50 am

    I think it's great! Wish I could win it!! Thanks!!

  96. Cybelle Oliveira
    December 31, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Is not full customized for international uses like me!

  97. Brady Wallace
    December 31, 2013 at 1:21 am

    I like it, but I don't use Google mail so that's a bummer.

  98. Kevin E
    December 31, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Doesn't fulfill any needs. But I'll find some if I win it.

  99. Heidi C.
    December 31, 2013 at 1:07 am

    It fulfills my needs!

  100. Robin W
    December 31, 2013 at 1:05 am

    would use constantly through out my day. for the next few weeks, re cooperating from surgery and would be located on my bed side table. after wards, very portable device, I like that most!~

  101. Nanang S
    December 31, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Maybe it fulfil my need but I am not sure because it really new product I have not hear before.

  102. magykmaster
    December 31, 2013 at 12:53 am

    If it could cook supper I would get it.....

  103. KateOJ
    December 31, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Yep. It would fulfill all our needs.

  104. Eva D
    December 31, 2013 at 12:35 am

    It would be perfect for me. thank you for the chance to win it I wouldn't change a thing

  105. Elaine Miller
    December 31, 2013 at 12:32 am

    I love it! I wish it could do the dishes...

  106. Natalie
    December 30, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    I would miss internet surfing and printing capabilities!

  107. Julian
    December 30, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Yes, though I would like the cloud to be fluffy and soft.

  108. Dan D
    December 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    No, it's missing all the meters to measure my needs. Such as Hunger, Bladder, Hygiene, Energy, and Fun.

  109. Va D
    December 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    No, where's my speedometer?

  110. Paul H
    December 30, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Maybe it's hackable...hmmm...

  111. Tomasz
    December 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Yes. Better API.

  112. Cassie S
    December 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Eh, it fulfills my requirements... as long as it's going to cost me $0.

  113. Jeremy
    December 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Just seems to be missing stock integration.

  114. Dany B
    December 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    It fills some of my needs, but I do wish it would have a better interface.

  115. Mihir C
    December 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    It doesn't fulfill all my needs! Would love some customization and more talk back features!

  116. Aaron M
    December 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Would be nice at the office, but more customizable faceplates would be helpful for all sorts of goodies.

  117. Miguel
    December 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    An API would be most useful.

  118. Ryan Pendleton
    December 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    There is an API and probably IFTTT integration on the way, as well as more native things to track.

  119. Michael B
    December 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    It's got some cool features, however I would not use it for the social media aspect. Besides the lack of customization, it seems like a cool gadget for any tech geek and it would satisfy my needs.

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