Furby Connect smart toy fixes original's most annoying feature

It was inevitable, really: after a sudden rush of smart toys, the annoying furry gizmo that arguably started it all is back with a cloud-enabled version. Furby Connect takes Hasbro's original bleating, chirping toy and throws a Bluetooth radio inside, allowing it to pair with a smartphone and be updated over time with new games and features.

Unlike the original Furby, which had blinking mechanical eyes and could basically rock back and forth, Furby Connect has far more ways to express itself.

Its eyes are color LCD screens, for instance, changing to show 150 different expressions and to link in with games in the Furby Connect World app on a nearby iOS or Android smartphone, while there's also a light-up antenna on the top. That can be used to signal new content has been downloaded.

Meanwhile, Hasbro says movements have been enhanced to "appear more natural than before" and there are extra sensors so that the toy knows when it's being petted.

It'll speak over 1,000 different phrases, reacting to sound and touch, and an internal clock allows Furby Connect to say time-appropriate things like asking for breakfast in the morning.

Two nearby Furby Connects will spot each other and chat, and they'll remember each other's names if they're placed in proximity again later on.

If you had a Furby – or a child with a Furby – however, the big question you're probably asking is "can I shut it up?" The original toy was notorious for waking up unexpectedly and making unstoppable noises, and though in theory you could pacify it and thus get some sleep, in practice it was so tricky to do that many parents simply yanked out the batteries.

Thankfully, Furby Connect promises to make that easier, with a sleep mask accessory in the box that, when put on the toy, automatically sends it into resting mode.

It's been quite a month for smart toys. Anki revealed its intelligent Cozmo robot earlier this week, aiming to teach kids programming with the palm-sized Wall-E style 'bot, while Sphero is looking to do something similar with its SPRK+ ball.

In contrast, Furby Connect is less about learning how to code and more about entertainment.

Furby Connect is up for preorder today in pink or teal, priced at $99.99, and will begin shipping on July 12. Come the fall, there'll be three extra colors and broader availability.