Pros: Favorite character, sounds great, lots of personalization choices.
Cons: Hard to get the voice box all the way in. Requires a computer to personalize.
I was a little skeptical when I saw Elmo Knows Your Name sitting on the shelf at our local WalMart. I needed to get my one year old a belated birthday present and was wanting the "perfect" gift. The price seemed great for what the box said it could do, so of course I figured it wasn't quite true (sorry about the rhyme). Boy was I wrong.
First off I pushed the button on the box where it said "Try Me". It sounded great so I decided to type in my son's name into the display thing located on the shelf to see if his name was available (crossing my fingers), it was there. All in all Elmo knows over 15,000 names (not just common ones either).
Well as you've all ready guessed I purchased Elmo and took him home. After spending about 10 minutes unpacking him (which we all know is never easy for any toy) I look at the instruction sheet. I will take you step by step through how we got him ready to go.
First step was to put the voice box into the back of Elmo, making sure that the button is facing forward. I will admit this was the hardest part. I actually had to have my husband do it because I was getting quite frustrated. Needless to say the inside of Elmo is just a smidge too small for the voice box so the velcro is never completly closed over in the back, but that's probably why Elmo comes with his own T-shirt : )
Second step is to Install the computer program that you will use to program Elmo to know your child's name. Very simple just follow the on screen directions here. Minimum requirements are 4X CD ROM, USB version 1.1, 250 MB Hard Drive Space, 128 MB Memory, 350 MHz CPU, 800X600 Resolution, 256 Color, Windows 2000, and a keyboard and mouse. Usually if your computer has a USB port it has the other things too.
Installation took about 15 minutes from insertion of disk until it was completly installed. Considering the fact that it has over 15,000 names on it I didn't believe that was too bad. If your child is impatient I would recommend installing the software before your child knows anything about Elmo himself.
Third step is to personalize the program for your child. This is where it gets fun. First it has you choose your child's name from the list. Then it will ask you if you would like Elmo to know any other important names your child is familiar with (examples: brothers, sisters, mommy, daddy). Next you will choose your child's favorite animal from a list of 56 choices), then their favorite color (10 choices). It will then progress to the next screen where you will choose up to three songs, stories, or games you would like programed into Elmo.
The song choices are Elmo's Birthday Song, Sunny Days, Elmo's ABC's, Friends Forever, and Goodnight Friend. The Story choices are Elmo's Colorful Day, What do you like to Eat, Elmo's Alphabet Adventure, Hide & Seek on Seasame Street, and Elmo and the 1-2-3 Bear. The Games are Who am I?, Animal Antics, Rhyming Riddles, Elmo's Silly Sounds, and Elmo's Number Game. You can only have three at a time loaded into Elmo but can change as often as you like by clicking on the Elmo program Icon and changing your choices.
There is also a daily planner function. You can set it up for between 6am and 9pm. The choices here are wakeup, breakfast, lunch, nap, dinner, and bedtime. You just have to make sure your computer clock is set correctly because it is set with that clock.
The final step after programing Elmo is getting Elmo "Hooked Up". You connect the included USB cord from your USB port on your computer to the box in Elmo's back. It only takes a minute or two and Elmo is ready to talk. Unhook Elmo from the USB cord, revelcro, and hand off to your child who will be totally surprised that Elmo knows his/her name.
Also great for fooling older siblings and adults. Great example of this is how my eight year old was in total shock. "Mom, Elmo said Hello, Hunter", "Mom Elmo knows my name too". She still hasn't figured out how it works and I plan on keeping it that way. This is almost as fun as Christmas : )
Elmo sounds just like he does on Seasame Street which is always one of the first things I check. I hate to get my children toys resembling their favorite characters only to find out that they sound nothing like them.
Another great thing about this toy is that it's personalization can be changed as often as you like all you need to do is go back to the computer and click on Elmo's Icon and go back through the steps again changing whatever you like. You can even program Elmo before you take him out of the box which is great for gift giving occasions. Battery life is one of the things I'm not exactly sure about yet. Elmo takes 3 double A batteries. He does have an automatic shutoff. Elmo will say something like "Let's play some more" and then if nobody squeezes his belly or presses his hand for a couple of minutes he will say "We can play later".
My son adores this toy now and I'm sure it will get a lot of use in the future also.