Review on Yoto Player
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The Review on Yoto Player
The thorny question of how much screen time children should have hangs like a rain cloud over every parent. Whether the concerns are exaggerated or not, finding alternative activities for children is important. There is a world of games and gadgets designed to free your little ones from the tyranny of the touchscreen, but few deliver on that promise. Enter: the Yoto player.
It’s a wireless speaker, but what sets it apart is that you can buy audiobooks on physical cards. Your kid inserts these cards into the top of the Yoto Player to start listening, like inserting a cartridge into old-school video game consoles. It’s not just for audiobooks, but also meditations and sleep stories, kid-friendly radio stations, podcasts, and soothing sleep sounds. All this comes without a screen in sight – there’s just a cute pixel art screen that doubles as a clock.
It’s aimed at kids ages 3 to 12, so I enlisted the help of my 8-year-old daughter to test the Yoto Player. She fell in love instantly. Super fun audio cube
It helps that the Yoto Player looks so cute. It is a beige cube with a wedge at the back that makes it look like a tiny house when placed face down. The frontside features a colorful pixel art display with orange buttons top left and right that act as customizable shortcuts (more on that later). Power it up with the button in the lower right corner. Photo Yoto player: Simon Hill
The edge around the wedge shape at the back may become light up in different colors to serve as a night light, which is a nice extra. There are speaker grilles on either side, a slot at the top for inserting cards and a circular notch at the bottom that connects magnetically to the included charger – it runs on batteries so your kid can lug it around the house. It weighs just over a pound, and it’s comfortable for kids to handle. The soft touch plastic it’s made of feels like it can survive sticky fingers and a few tumbles,
My daughter immediately fell in love with the pixel art on the front, which by default displays the current time and changes to show related images when you play content. That’s the real draw here: the Yoto Player supports a large collection of audiobooks, and each is connected to a physical plastic card about the size of a credit card.
The library is solid, with content ranging from classics like Winnie the Pooh and Julia Donaldson’s works for younger kids to Diary of Wimpy Kid, Treasure Island, and Roald Dahl for slightly older kids. Prices for these cards range from $6 to $12, which I initially thought was expensive, but it’s comparable to Audible’s audiobook prices.
The beauty of the card system is that your kids can simply select the story they want to hear and insert the card to listen. Each comes in a pouch with an adhesive backing so you can stick them to the wall. We have a collection of audiobooks on Audible, but if my daughter wants to listen to a story she has to ask us. Physical cards with Yoto Player give even the youngest children some freedom of choice. Yoto player
Rating: 7/10 $110 at Amazon (with starter pack) $100 at Yoto
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Stories start when a card is placed and stop when it is removed. These cards have Near Field Communication (NFC) sensors inside, and once inserted, the Yoto Player knows exactly what to play. It’s the same technology used in smartphone contactless payments with Apple Pay or Google Pay, or how you can bring physical amiibos into certain Nintendo games.
The Yoto Player remembers your place, so it will choose up where you left off the next time that card is placed. Unfortunately, you can’t rewind or fast-forward audio, although the company says this feature will be available soon. There is, of course, a risk that these cards may disappear (not found until years later), but everything in your library is mirrored with a digital copy in the parental app; even if you lose a card, you can keep the contents of your from phone.
In addition to books, you will also find cards for sounds, sing-along songs and meditations. Most interesting of all are the Make Your Own cards, which cost $20 for a pack of 10. You can customize playlists of content in your library, or you can add your own audio files, such as existing audiobooks you already have or songs you in MP3 or AAC format. That includes audio that you record yourself in the Yoto app.
I had a lot of fun writing and recording a story for my daughter, but the possibilities are endless. You can have a grandparent read a favorite book or share a story from their past. Include friends telling jokes, or have your child create their own stories to share with the family over dinner. These cards can also be reused, so you can always add them to playlists or change the content as your kids get older. Versatile speaker
I struggled with the $100 asking price for the Yoto Player at first, mainly because cards are sold individually, but there are a lot of hidden extras that make it a decent value.
There is a large collection of easily accessible and free kid-friendly podcasts and radio stations, including a unique Yoto Daily episode. My daughter listens to the radio while she sketches or rummages in her room. And sleep sounds like rain and white noise, plus an excellent sleep radio option that combines a random mix of lullabies, classical music, and sleep sounds help my daughter dream away at night.
You can set the exact times at which you want the Yoto Player to change from a daytime to a nighttime photo, which is a useful visual aid for kids who are not yet good at telling the time. If it shows the sun then they know it’s okay to get up; if it’s the moon, they should stay in bed. When my kids did sleep training we used the Gro-Clock but it costs $58 and has no other features.
Of course there is the possibility to use the Yoto Player as a Bluetooth speaker. We can play the audiobooks we already have elsewhere, and my daughter can listen to Spotify Kids too. The quirks
The sound quality of the speaker is nothing to get excited about. It just sounds good, and the volume is limited (although parents might be happy about that). All about our best Bluetooth speakers guide will sound better. The content library is also good, but doesn’t have the wide choice on Audible.
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