In a world where kids and adults are constantly tethered to digital screens, the concept of screen-free tech is gaining steam.
Over the past few years, that has led to some new categories that bridge the gap between play, entertainment, and learning. One emerging category is that of screen-free portable audio players, and one of the newest entrants is Timio.
Timio is an interactive, educational audio and music player that is unique in the space as it does not require an internet connection to function. The player was designed by a small company in the Netherlands and uses proprietary magnetic discs that clip to the front of the unit to provide audio content and encourage hands-on interaction for kids ages 2-6.
The beautifully designed player is quick to set up and comes ready to play, aside from three AA batteries that a parent or other adult will have to install. In just minutes, adults can set up Timio to play in one of eight languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Chinese, Italian, or Portuguese. The starter set comes with five discs with content spanning farm animals, vehicles, bedtime stories, lullabies, and seasonal holiday songs.
Having experienced a number of screen-free audio players over the years, I find that the simple, yet durable design is perfect for kids that love to pick up their toys and go. The built-in handle is just the right size, and the ease of swapping discs is perfect for preschoolers to do it themselves without having to ask a grown-up for help.
In a lot of ways, Timio feels like a modern-day See ‘n Say. A pleasant voice guides kids and engages in a playful back-and-forth while asking them to locate certain characters or animals on each disc, after which kids will be rewarded with fun facts, sound effects, or songs.
The lack of Wi-Fi connectivity also makes Timio a perfect toy to play with outside of the home, whether that be in the car, the backyard, or at someone else’s house. Additionally, Timio offers a set of matching, volume-limited headphones for little ears.
And, the Timio experience is expandable! The company currently offers four additional expansion packs, each with five discs included. The subject matter runs the gamut from sea animals and nursery rhymes to colors, numbers, musical instruments, body parts, time, dinosaurs, and more.
While I would’ve loved to have Timio when my own kids were little, I had the opportunity to do some real-world testing using my niece and nephews (ages 2-5). Timio was an instant hit, particularly with my pig-obsessed nephew who couldn’t get enough of the farm animals content. All of the kids caught on quickly and were swapping discs in no time.
According to the designer of Timio, its name comes from a Greek word meaning “especially dear.” The idea is that its portable nature means that kids can take Timio along with them like their “dearest friend.”