Our Yoto player review examines how well this toy delivers on it's screen free audio content
Yoto were kind enough to send us a player and all cards featured in this article for free (#gifted) for us to review. This is not a sponsored post, and all views are entirely our own.
What is a Yoto Player?
Yoto Player is a toy success story from Kickstarter, based in London. The "Yoto" is a box (a very clever box) that delivers screen free access to stories, activities and music for kids aged 3-12. All the audio content is accessed through plastic cards which are inserted in to the top of the player. These cards either contain pre-loaded content, or are blank for you to load your own content onto. Your library and "Make Your Own" cards are managed in the mobile app (tested here using an Android phone).
Helping me review the Yoto player are my two children (4 years old and 2 years old), although I couldn't resist having a play myself first. Yoto were kind enough to send up the player, Matilda by Roald Dahl, A card of nursery rhymes and another of meditations for kids, The "Dinosaur that Pooped" collection as well as a pack of their "Make Your Own" cards, ensuring we had a good variety of products to give our honest review on. Yoto Players can be purchased directly from their website, alongside toy retailers and Amazon*.
What comes with the Yoto?
I really appreciated the packaging the Yoto came in - no excess plastic, but still a well protected product. Inside the box you get all you need to get going with Yoto - you get the player itself, the charging dock, some instructions to point you to where to get the app etc., and a "Welcome" Card. The dock itself is magnetic, giving kids the independence to pop it on charge when they're done without getting frustrated.
The Yoto player feels really sturdy. Not that I want to drop it or knock it, but if an accident did happen, I'd feel confident it would come out the battle OK. There are 3 buttons on the Yoto - one to power on, and two on the top which also act as dials to flick through chapters or alter the volume. I really like that the device even has tactile buttons; one frustration I had with the competitor to this (the Tonie - our review here) is that it was motion activated which wasn't intuitive.
Setting up the Yoto
I used my Huawei android phone to set up our Yoto. The process was super simple, with the app showing you how to make your account and connect to your WiFi. Once this setup is complete, the player stays connected to the net. Each night when docked, it will automatically download new content and updates. The welcome card also acts as a tutorial to what your new Yoto can do; well worth a listen.
You can add new content in two ways; through preloaded cards, or through the Make Your Own cards. Even without cards, you can access the inbuilt Yoto radio station, daily podcast, or connect to a phone or tablet with Bluetooth to use as a speaker.
Yoto Player Features
With so many exciting features in the device, I'm going to give a quick overview below of our favourite aspects.
1) The Screen
The device doesn't have a screen in the sense of a tablet screen or tv screen. Instead it has an array of pixel lights which show pictures relating to what Yoto is doing. If you change a chapter in a book, the picture changes to something in that chapter. If you change to the radio, it shows a picture of a radio. This keeps the toy "screen free" compared to a tablet, but still provides a visual to help find the feature you want.
2) The Cards
The cards themselves download the story to your device when inserted into the slot. Both my 2 year old and 4 year old got to grips with this intuitively. In my opinion this works way better than the Tonie. Tonies are easy to knock off the box, stopping playback instantly. With the Yoto cards you do have to purposefully pull them out. Each card also comes with a cute self adhesive card holder, so you can create a little library somewhere safe. You can also add the cards to your account using the app and the NFC reader on your phone (the same tech that let's you pay contactless). This was a really nice option, and let you add titles to your account in a fast way.
3) The Nightlight
An unexpected feature of the Yoto - it has a built in night light mode. Tip the cube so that it is face down, and the light automatically comes on. You can even change the colour of it from the Yoto app. This feature complements some of the cards available (such as the meditation card) and can give your little one a bit of comfort as part of their bedtime routine.
4) Built in Bluetooth Connectivity
Already have a backlog of audio books? Or want to make use of your existing music subscriptions (honestly, not sure how we coped before Amazon Music). Then simply put the Yoto into Bluetooth pairing mode and connect from your phone, tablet or pc. We were really impressed with the sound quality to come out of player; both crisp, but loud.
5) Free content - Podcasts, Yoto Radio, and more
The thing that really won me over as a parent, is the amount of free content Yoto produces. Our biggest grumble with the Tonie box was the cost of content, but with Yoto you can get enjoyment just from the free features it comes with. Press the right button on the front once to go to the Yoto Daily Podcast, or press it twice to go to Yoto radio. My son loves coming home from school to listen to the podcast, especially as they are educational but also involve an activity (listening to identify sounds, posing questions that act as conversation prompts with us etc.).
Is the Yoto Player value for money?
As part of our product verdict, we believe it important to review the value of the Yoto player. The player itself is available directly from Yoto, as well as major toy retailers. RRP is about £79.99, which puts it slightly above the current Tonie box price (£62). However the Yoto is much newer, whereas Tonie has been out for a good few more years by this point.
There are audio books that are available on both platforms, which has allowed us an accurate price comparison. Most of the Julia Donaldson Tonies are £14.99 full price (for just one story), whilst the Yoto equivalent is £20 for 6 stories (working out at just £3.33 per card when you buy the multipack). In my opinion, this is a much more palatable price point, and as a parent I would be more likely to buy Yoto cards as treats for the kids, as opposed to just on Birthdays and Christmas.
The blank Yoto cards again beat the blank Tonie characters; £12 for one blank tonie, vs. 5 blank Yoto cards for £8.99 (which works out at just £1.80 per card). The value of whether or not the fact that you are getting a card for your money as opposed to a figurine is down to you, but personally my little ones haven't said anything, so assuming it's a hit! There is also the option of a monthly card subscription box for £12.99 (Yoto Club), which mails you new exclusive content and activities.
Conclusion - should you buy a Yoto?
Yes, I 100% recommend buying the Yoto player, especially if you are considering between this or the Tonie player. It's great quality, a fair price point, and offers new and exciting content daily without having to pay out anything extra. Yoto is so simple my 2 year old was using it unaided from the moment she laid eyes on it, but the content also appeals to her older brother. It's a player that can grow with them, and will be a staple of our play box for a good few years to come.
What do you think of the Yoto? Have you purchased one already, or are you considering getting one? Let us know in the comments below.