TIMIO Review: A Terrific Audio Player for the Little Ones

As much as we love our kids, there are times when we’ll do anything for a fleeting break from their endless questions. Enter TIMIO, a nifty little audio player filled to the brim with fun and educational content. In this TIMIO review, I’ll be having a look at the following:

  • What TIMIO is and who it’s for
  • The items you’ll find in the TIMIO package (plus a detailed breakdown of content on each of the 20 discs)
  • The things I love about the TIMIO player (a lot)
  • What I think could be improved (not much)
  • Where you can buy TIMIO

Let’s dive in…

What is TIMIO?

From the proverbial horse’s mouth, “TIMIO is an educational audio and music player designed for children 2–6 years old.”

I’d say that’s pretty spot on.

We got TIMIO for our youngest daughter when she turned 3. She’s three-and-a-half now and loves TIMIO to this day. Her older brother’s five-and-a-half, and he rarely shows interest.

TIMIO has no screen, so the only visuals are the beautiful drawings on the discs themselves. Score 10 points for screen-free playtime!

TIMIO Review: front view of the player itself. No screen.
Not a screen in sight

TIMIO uses interchangeable discs to play the different content. Each disc has 12 pictures around the edge, arranged like numbers on a clockface:

The clock disc for TIMIO, front view
Like so, in case you’ve never seen a clock.

There are 12 LED lights around TIMIO’s dial, aligning with pictures on each disc. When your child touches a picture, TIMIO lights the corresponding LED light and plays the matching sound, story, or song.

The discs come in two flavors:

  1. Entertainment discs
  2. Educational discs

Entertainment discs

These discs contain longer audio pieces like nursery rhymes, lullabies, or entire fairy tales.

Perfect for when you’re putting the kids to bed or just want them to sit back and relax with a good story.

Educational discs

The educational discs help children learn about the world through pictures and matching sounds. Everything from colors and shapes to animals and fruit.

These discs usually say the name of the item on the picture, followed by the appropriate sound (if any). (Press on a lion, and TIMIO will say the word “lion,” followed by a lion’s roar. Press on an apple, and you’ll hear the word “apple,” followed by nothing, because apples don’t roar.)

The learning discs have an added functionality: interactive “search & find” games.

Here’s how that works:

If you don’t press any buttons for about 3 seconds, TIMIO will automatically prompt you to find a specific object on the dial. Like so:

If the child guesses incorrectly, TIMIO will say “try again.”

After the second wrong guess, TIMIO will say “oh oh” and helpfully light up the right answer by flashing the LED light next to it.

One more wrong guess, and TIMIO will simply give up on you, wishing you luck next time.

(Great job mimicking impatient parents, TIMIO!)

Content in 6 (or 8) languages

The content of each disc exists in multiple languages, so children (and you) can use TIMIO to learn a few foreign language basics.

I have the original model, which came with these 6 languages:

  1. English
  2. Spanish
  3. French
  4. German
  5. Dutch
  6. Chinese (Mandarin)

In the second version of TIMIO, you’ll find two extra languages:

  1. Italian
  2. Portuguese (Brazilian)

The story behind TIMIO

TIMIO is the brainchild of Basile Fattal, a Netherlands-based inventor. The player was funded by a fully-backed Kickstarter project and started shipping in 2019.

If you’re curious, check out this interview with Basile for more.

What’s in the box?

No TIMIO review would be complete without looking at the actual contents. So let’s have a peek.

Your TIMIO will arrive in a box similar to this one (unless they update the packaging, in which case…it won’t):

Packaging of the player
Source: Amazon.

Inside the box, you’ll find:

  • The TIMIO player itself (surprise!)
  • 20 content discs
  • Carry pouch for the discs
  • User manual

That’s it. It’s a clean package that’s rich in content.

TIMIO Review of full box content including discs, player, and carry pouch
Discs and pouches and more discs. Oh my.

Let’s look at each of the items in more detail.

The TIMIO player

The TIMIO player itself is a solid-built device with no flimsy protrusions that can snap off. It’s very sturdy and should survive the knocks and bumps of regular use.

Don’t go too crazy, though. We’re still talking plastic here.

Microphone location on the player.
Above: not adamantium.

There are three touch-sensitive buttons on the front dial: Two on each side for changing the volume and one at the top for cycling through the 6 available languages.

The newer model also has a “?” button at the bottom that lets you switch off the guessing game, if you so choose.

There’s a standard 3.5mm jack at the top of TIMIO for plugging in headphones. This lets the kids listen to TIMIO discs without disturbing others. Helpful if you’re traveling in public transport or—more realistically—just need a damn moment of silence at home.

At the back, there’s a battery compartment (you’ll need 3 AA batteries) and a physical on/off switch.

TIMIO view from back with battery and power switch

Don’t worry, TIMIO also has an auto-off function that switches the power off after 10 minutes of inactivity.

The carry pouch

It’s…you know…a pouch.

The TIMIO carry pouch front view
Yup, this sure is a pouch!

It’s made of thick, great-quality fabric and has room to store all 20 discs at once. Here’s how it looks with all the discs stacked and packed inside:

The player and cloth pouch with all the discs inside
Ready to go.

Considering the amount of content you’ll be bringing along, this is quite a small travel package.

The discs

Let’s look in detail at the 20 discs included with TIMIO, as this is where the real magic lies.

All 20 TIMIO discs
*Majestic fairy tale music*

The discs have little numbers from 1 to 20 on them. The above picture is brought to you by OCD; I’ve arranged the discs in order, from top-left to bottom-right. You’re welcome.

Now let’s go through the disc content. For each disc, I start counting at the 12 o’clock mark.

Disc 1: Nursery rhymes (volume 1)

Contains many classic nursery rhymes you’ll be painfully familiar with.

  1. “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”
  2. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  3. “Miss Polly Had a Dolly”
  4. “The Wheels on the Bus”
  5. “Happy Birthday to You”
  6. “Five Little Ducks”
  7. “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  8. “Rain, Rain, Go Away!”
  9. “Are You Sleeping (Brother John)?”
  10. “Hush Little Baby”
  11. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
  12. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”

Disc 2: Nursery rhymes (volume 2)

Even more nursery rhymes that’ll burrow themselves deep into your brain.

  1. “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  2. “Five Little Monkeys”
  3. “Little Goldfish”
  4. “Two Little Dicky Birds”
  5. “The Animal Fair”
  6. “Three Little Kittens”
  7. “This Old Man”
  8. “Five Little Speckled Frogs”
  9. “Baa Baa Black Sheep”
  10. “Ring Around the Rosie”
  11. “The ABC Song”
  12. “Hickory Dickory Dock”

Disc 3: Fairy tales

Challenge yourself to find any that Disney hasn’t already done.

  1. Rapunzel
  2. Cinderella
  3. Sleeping Beauty
  4. Aladdin (and the Magic Lamp)
  5. Snow White
  6. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  7. Pinocchio
  8. Three Little Pigs
  9. Puss in Boots
  10. Hansel and Gretel
  11. Little Red Riding Hood
  12. Rumpelstiltskin

Disc 4: Bedtime stories

These short stories focus on everyday activities like playing, using the potty, or going to sleep (parents’ all-time favorite).

  1. “Going to the Playground”
  2. “Getting Tickled”
  3. “Playing with a Friend”
  4. “Playing with Lucy (Dog)”
  5. “Going to the Potty”
  6. “Applesauce”
  7. “My Family”
  8. “Going to Bed”
  9. “Helping Grandma”
  10. “At the Farm”
  11. “Taking the Bus”
  12. “Painting with Mommy”

Disc 5: Lullabies and sounds

Melodies and sounds for putting the youngest to sleep. No words.

  1. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
  2. “All the Pretty Horses”
  3. “Over the Rainbow”
  4. “Ninna Lullaby”
  5. “Rock-a-Bye Baby”
  6. Sound of waves
  7. “Danny Boy”
  8. White noise
  9. “Brahms Lullaby”
  10. “Twinkle Twinkle (Little Star)”
  11. “Hush Little Baby”
  12. Sound of rain

Disc 6: Christmas songs

You can’t escape the sounds of Christmas. At least there’s zero Michael Bublé here.

  1. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
  2. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
  3. “Silent Night”
  4. “O Holy Night”
  5. “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”
  6. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”
  7. “Frosty the Snowman”
  8. “Jingle Bells”
  9. “Feliz Navidad”
  10. “Here Comes Santa Claus”
  11. “Deck the Halls”
  12. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Disc 7: Alphabet A-L

In case you want to re-learn the alphabet in the process…

  1. A (apple)
  2. B (ball)
  3. C (cat)
  4. D (dog)
  5. E (elephant)
  6. F (fish)
  7. G (gorilla)
  8. H (hat)
  9. I (igloo)
  10. J (juice)
  11. K (kangaroo)
  12. L (lion)

Disc 8: Alphabet M-Z

#12 will surprise you!

  1. M (monkey)
  2. N (no)
  3. O (octopus)
  4. P (pig)
  5. Q (question)
  6. R (rabbit)
  7. S (sun)
  8. T (tree)
  9. U (umbrella)
  10. V (violin)
  11. W (whale)
  12. XYZ (xylophone, yo-yo, zoo) – yeah, they squeezed them all into one spot!

Disc 9: Numbers 1-12

Typing this hurts my perfectionist brain so much, but they follow the clock here, so…

  1. 12
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10
  12. 11

Disc 10: Shapes

I didn’t even know there were that many of them.

  1. Circle
  2. Heart
  3. Cross
  4. Rectangle
  5. Oval
  6. Moon
  7. Square
  8. Arrow
  9. Diamond
  10. Triangle
  11. Star
  12. Spiral

Disc 11: Colors

Enough to draw a rainbow and then some.

  1. Red
  2. Blue
  3. Yellow
  4. Green
  5. Orange
  6. Purple
  7. Black
  8. White
  9. Brown
  10. Pink
  11. Grey
  12. Turquoise

Disc 12: Time

Not much different from the numbers, but with “o’clock” added.

  1. 12 o’clock
  2. 1 o’clock
  3. 2 o’clock
  4. 3 o’clock
  5. 4 o’clock
  6. 5 o’clock
  7. 6 o’clock
  8. 7 o’clock
  9. 8 o’clock
  10. 9 o’clock
  11. 10 o’clock
  12. 11 o’clock

Disc 13: Farm animals

Ideal for making “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” last forever.

  1. Mouse
  2. Chicken
  3. Goat
  4. Duck
  5. Horse
  6. Cat
  7. Pig
  8. Donkey
  9. Cow
  10. Dog
  11. Bee
  12. Rooster

Disc 14: Wild animals

Take a virtual trip to the zoo…

  1. Lion
  2. Elephant
  3. Snake
  4. Tiger
  5. Hippo
  6. Monkey
  7. Crocodile
  8. Giraffe
  9. Rhinoceros
  10. Bear
  11. Fox
  12. Zebra

Disc 15: Sea creatures

…or into the ocean.

  1. Lobster
  2. Penguin
  3. Sea turtle
  4. Whale
  5. Seal
  6. Dolphin
  7. Crab
  8. Seahorse
  9. Octopus
  10. Shark
  11. Starfish
  12. Orca

Disc 16: Vehicles

This one was popular with our son.

  1. Fire truck
  2. Helicopter
  3. Race car
  4. Truck
  5. Bulldozer
  6. Garbage truck
  7. Motorcycle
  8. Ambulance
  9. Bicycle
  10. Police car
  11. Car
  12. Plane

Disc 17: Body parts

It’s not as disturbing as the disc looks.

  1. Head
  2. Ear
  3. Teeth
  4. Finger
  5. Tongue
  6. Hand
  7. Leg
  8. Nose
  9. Foot
  10. Mouth
  11. Arm
  12. Eye

Disc 18: Fruits

Delicious.

  1. Apple
  2. Orange
  3. Banana
  4. Strawberry
  5. Pear
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherry
  8. Mango
  9. Lemon
  10. Watermelon
  11. Kiwi
  12. Pineapple

Disc 19: Vegetables

Nutritious. (And yes, tomato is technically both a fruit and a vegetable.)

  1. Carrot
  2. Onion
  3. Lettuce
  4. Potato
  5. Cauliflower
  6. Tomato
  7. Eggplant
  8. Pea
  9. Bell pepper
  10. Mushroom
  11. Broccoli
  12. Corn

Disc 20: Music

This one includes a few musical instruments and a full octave of notes. (The newer model replaces the notes with even more instruments.)

  1. Drums
  2. Violin
  3. Do
  4. Ti
  5. La
  6. So
  7. Fa
  8. Mi
  9. Re
  10. Do (octave lower)
  11. Trumpet
  12. Guitar

The user manual

I won’t bore you with the details here. It’s—well—a user manual. (Plus I seem to have misplaced mine.) You can also find the manual in digital form:

  1. Download the manual for TIMIO Version 1
  2. Download the manual for TIMIO Version 2

What I like about TIMIO

Honestly, pretty much everything. The TIMIO player does exactly what it says on the tin. It delivers lots of fantastic content that’s easy for the kids to enjoy on their own.

A few highlights:

TIMIO is a breeze to operate

The process of exchanging the discs is essentially error-proof. Each disc has a magnet inside, so it simply slides on to the TIMIO dial in just the right way. Similarly, taking the disc off requires only a gentle tug. Our daughter was switching the discs on her own in no time.

It helps that there’s no “wrong” way to place a disc onto TIMIO. It’ll work as expected no matter which direction it’s facing.

For instance, this is correct:

TIMIO disc inserted the right way
The right way up: Correct!

…and so is this:

Disc insterted upside down
Upside down? No such thing.

…and this:

Dsc inserted left
Sideways? No problem.

You get the picture.

The touch-sensitive areas on the discs respond perfectly to each press. Your little ones will quickly be able to start enjoying their new TIMIO on their own.

The extra features are just right

First off, the 3.5mm jack is a welcome addition. It sees a lot of use in our house. Our daughter tends to wake up early, and TIMIO’s saved many a morning by letting her listen to the discs without waking up her older brother.

Secondly, the player’s handle doubles as a stand to keep your TIMIO upright:

You can use the handle to carry your TIMIO in different ways or prop it up as a display.

Finally, the extra languages effectively multiply the amount of available content by 6 (or 8 with the new model). Even if you’re not looking to learn a new language, it’s fun to compare the names of objects and creatures across the languages.

The attention to detail is delightful

It’s clear that TIMIO is a labor of love. The overall design is both elegant and practical.

Every disc has its own visual theme and is beautifully illustrated.

To top it all off, I discovered a hidden, unadvertised subtlety that shows just how much went into crafting the final product: For the music discs, each song’s instrumentals change depending on the selected language. They didn’t just record new vocals, but went through the trouble of making the songs unique.

Here’s how “Itsy Bitsy Spider” sounds in English:

And here’s the same song in Chinese (Mandarin):

All of this adds up to a terrific audio player that’s easy to use while offering an impressive amount of fun and educational content.

What TIMIO could do better

Since I’m aiming for a legitimate TIMIO review and not just a fawning fanboy article, I had to find something to complain about.

Here are a couple of nitpicks:

Can’t change language or volume on the fly

Because the volume and language buttons are on the TIMIO dial itself, they’re fully covered by the discs. Changing the language or volume requires taking the disc off, pressing the buttons, and then putting the disc back:

When you first place a disc, there’s a short startup delay before you can listen to it. In combination, this prevents you from doing something like cycling through the languages fast and comparing the animal names in each language more easily. The same goes for changing the volume. For that reason, I sort of wish the volume/language buttons were placed outside of the disc area.

The guessing games can get a bit intrusive

The guessing game kicks in after just 3 seconds of inactivity. This often doesn’t leave much time for the child to carefully explore the available options on the disc before they’re asked to find a random item. There’s also no way to stop the game other than finding the object in question or failing to do so three times in a row.

To their credit, the TIMIO team have already solved this annoyance in the latest version of the player. It now has a “?” button on the dial that lets you disable the guessing game altogether.

Educational discs could have more content

Each story or song on the entertainment discs often goes on for minutes. This makes me wish that the educational discs would also have more content in addition to the name and sound of the item. For instance, it would be cool if pressing the lion would have the narrator share a few basic lion facts afterwards.

(EDIT 26-20-2020) Update from Basil Fattal: We’ll try to add more content for the educational discs in the future.”

No “loop” option for entertainment discs

Because the entertainment discs are primarily intended for passive listening rather than active learning, it’d be great if there was a way to make them  automatically cycle through all of the available songs or stories. As it stands, one still has to actively pick the next song or story after the first one ends. This is especially obvious in the case of the lullaby discs. Not being able to play the lullabies continuously means you can’t use them as a sleeping aid quite as effectively.

(EDIT 26-20-2020) Update from Basil Fattal: “The loop functionality has been also added to the latest version of TIMIO. Hold any of the images for 3 seconds and TIMIO will play all the songs or stories.”

But honestly, all of the above are ultimately minor complaints. They aren’t nearly enough to detract from the overall quality of the product.

TIMIO Review: The verdict

As you’ve probably gathered, I’m a big fan of the TIMIO player.

It delivers 100% on its promise of screen-free, child-friendly entertainment. TIMIO is robust, easy for the kids to master, and a pure joy to use.

The few quibbles I have with the player are mostly subjective. Besides, I fully expect the TIMIO team to iterate further on the player in the future.

TIMIO is a great addition to your repertoire of keep-them-busy-without-making-me-feel-guilty toys.

Where to get your TIMIO

If this review convinced you to buy TIMIO, here’s where to get one:

US & Canada

If you’re in the US or Canada, you can grab your TIMIO in their dedicated US & Canada store.

Visit the US TIMIO store >>

All other countries

If you’re anywhere else, TIMIO’s European store ships the player globally.

Visit the European TIMIO store >>

Can you buy TIMIO on Amazon?

This is a bit of a mystery. In the US, TIMIO does seem to have a placeholder page on Amazon, but it lists the player as “Currently unavailable” with no indication of whether that will change. If TIMIO starts selling on Amazon in the US at a later stage, I’ll be sure to update this review.

But you can buy TIMIO on Amazon in the following countries:

4 thoughts on “TIMIO Review: A Terrific Audio Player for the Little Ones”

  1. Thank you Daniel for the great review! Basile here, founder of TIMIO. Really appreciate the feedback. The loop functionality has been also added to the latest version of TIMIO. Hold any of the images for 3 seconds and TIMIO will play all the songs or stories. We’ll try to add more content for the educational discs in the future.

    Reply
    • Hey Basile,

      So awesome to hear from you directly! It’s great to see you’ve added the loop function – looks like you’re on top of things when it comes to acting on feedback and making TIMIO better and better with each iteration. I’ll make sure to add this note to the review tomorrow.

      I’m looking forward to the extra content you come up with in the future. Feel free to contact me when new versions get released. I’m curious to follow your journey.

      Reply

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