At the end of 2018, the Toniebox launched in Ireland and the UK! The innovative, fun and child-friendly digital audio player is the brainchild of the German friends Patric and Marcus. When they wanted to give their children an easy way to listen to audiobooks and music without adding to their screentime and without having to handle CDs or tapes: The Toniebox was born!
The Toniebox is a portable and easy-to-use digital audio player for children. Audiobooks and songs are played by placing the appropriate figure (Tonie) on top of the box!
We have had our Toniebox for quite a while now, as we picked one up during a family visit in Germany. Before the UK launch, we were listening to German songs and stories that we brought back with us. However, we are delighted that Toniebox has come to Ireland and that Tonies are available here now too. The English Tonies work with our German Box and vice versa!
If you are wondering, how it all works and why it is so much better and easier for kids than CDs, Tapes, Tablets, Youtube or Alexa – read on for our Ins & Outs of the Toniebox!
The Toniebox: How does it work?
The Toniebox is a lightweight cube that is padded and covered in durable material. It is shockproof and feels incredibly well made – it reminds me of an oversized soft building block! I mean it when I say, that I believe it is indestructible. You can choose from six different bright colours which in combination with the simple design make for a very pretty and appealing sight! But how does the Toniebox work?
No Buttons – No Screens
When you are looking at the Toniebox, the first thing you might notice is the lack of screens and buttons. The only button-like controls are the two grey “ears” on top of the box, which are the volume controls. The bigger ear turns the volume up, while you press the smaller one to turn it down. The volume ranges from a very quiet bedtime story level to a moderate loud for a child-friendly dance party! What is quite surprising though is the excellent sound quality – especially for such a small unit!
In order to start playing an audiobook or a song, you simply place one of the Tonies on top of the box. Tap the side of the box to rewind or fast-forward through stories and skip songs. The Tonies are chunky and sturdy enough to be handled by kids from the age of three. As soon as they are able to recognise the different characters from stories, they are able to use the Toniebox! Since the Tonies are slightly magnetised, they stay in place, even when the box is carried around! Super easy, intuitive & fun!
Toniebox Magic Explained!
My children think it’s pure magic when the Gruffalo story starts playing as soon as they place the Gruffalo-Tonie on top of their Toniebox! It certainly feels a bit like magic!
However, the Tonie audio system is a cloud-based system! During the initial setup, you are creating an account for your Tonie Cloud, which is connected to your Toniebox via WiFi. Thanks to an NFC chip at the bottom of every Tonie, the box instantly knows which figure is placed on top.
When you use a Tonie for the first time, the audio starts playing immediately. However, the LED on top of the box will flash blue until the download of the entire audio file is complete. Once the files are stored safely on the internal memory the LED switches back to green. The Toniebox only needs to connect to WiFi when downloading files for a new Tonie or when you have updated the content on a Creative Tonie (see below). Other than that your Toniebox is completely portable! Your children can bring their favourite stories and songs wherever they go. After all: The best adventures are waiting beyond your WiFi signal!
Does the Toniebox it need batteries?
The Toniebox Starter Set is supplied with a charging station. Your Toniebox sits securely on the station and can charge away while being used safely by your children. Once the battery is completely charged the box plays up to seven hours worth of audio – perfect for roadtrips! During those long car journeys, the headphone socket at the top of the box is a godsend! Your child will be able to listen to whatever they want, without disturbing their siblings (or you!)
Tonies: Play, Listen, Learn!
As mentioned above, the cute little figures you use to listen to audiobooks or music files are called Tonies. There are three different types of Tonies: Audiobook Tonies, Music Tonies, and Creative Tonies!
Each of the handpainted figures seems to have its own unique character! My children love to play with them, whenever they are not listening to them. Since they are sturdy and even waterproof I don’t have to worry about them getting damaged! They also make fab stocking fillers and small “add on” presents. With the ever-growing selection of Tonies available, you will not run out of gift ideas for the foreseeable!
When looking through the Audiobook Tonies you will find many familiar faces. From the Highway Rat and Stickman for children as young as three years old to The Little Prince and The Three ??? for older kids, you can be sure to find their favourite story! I particularly love the fairytale compilations. Because you get a number of different classical stories on one Tonie!
Not all Audiobook Tonies have fictional stories to tell. The Tonies in the How and Why range teach your kids all about different subjects. My six-year-old is always glued to his How and Why Dinosaur which tells him everything there is to know about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals. It’s a great and fun way for children to learn about different subjects!
My daughters favourite are music Tonies. She adores singing and dancing – so she pops her music Tonie on and away she goes! By far the most popular in our house is the Christmas Tonie! Whenever there is doubt about what song would be great right now, she puts this on without a care in the world about the actual time of year!
However, there is an amazing selection of differently themed music Tonies available. From birthday and travellings songs to playtime songs and even lullabies! Since they are able to listen to their own music, whenever they like, my kids have occasionally tidied their playroom on their own accord. After all “It’s so easy to put toys away when you’re dancing, mummy” – whatever works!
Creative Tonies are probably the coolest invention ever! They are the blank canvas of audiobooks and ready to become whatever you and your kids want them to be! When you first receive your Creative Tonie (one of which is included in the Starter Set), you register it to your Tonie cloud. Once that is done you can add your own audio content.
To do that, log in to your Tonie cloud on your PC or mobile and add audio files or record messages. If you have family or friends abroad, you can give them access to your cloud. They can then record a message for your kids as a surprise. Bedtime stories from the far-away grandparents have never been that easy! Honestly, this is the best feature ever!
Whenever new content has been added to your Creative Tonies, remember that the content has to sync first. This means your Toniebox needs to be connected to WiFi. Once done though – it is priceless to see your kid’s eyes light up when they discover that there is a new story from Nana on their Tonie!
Toniebox Review: The Verdict
We live in a time when we are bombarded with new toys and products for children on a daily basis! The shelves in the shops are overflowing with all these things we are made to believe our kids need; only to learn that today’s latest thing will be old school tomorrow!
So it really makes me happy to see a product like the Toniebox been thought up and brought to market. For me, it just ticks all the boxes! It is child-friendly (from about 3 years old), durable and virtually indestructible. It’s also portable, nice to look at and thanks to the always-expanding range of Tonies it is customisable to suit your children’s age and interests! It has quickly become one of our favourite open-ended toys! Add to that the fact that the Creative Tonies make it easy for family and friends to connect to your kids in a very personal and unique way; and that any Tonies you buy in different countries and languages are interchangeable (for bilingual families)! The Toniebox really is a winner!
Have you heard of the Toniebox before? What do you think about this new child-friendly audio system?
Frequently Asked Questions about the Toniebox
A Toniebox is a digital audio player for children. The cloud-based system combines songs and stories with a unique element of play in an intuitive and durable unit for children from 3 years up.
Tonies are the figurines used to play audio tracks with the Toniebox. There are three different types of Tonies. Music Tonies, Story (content) Tonies and Creative Tonies. The latter is not pre-recorded and can be filled with custom content.
You can customise the audio content on a Creative Tonie. Either record your own voice using the Tonie-App or simply add mp3 files.
The Toniebox can play any language. At the moment pre-recorded Tonies are only available in English in the UK & Ireland as well as in German-speaking countries. However, a Creative Tonie can have multiple languages.
The Toniebox is for children from 3 years up. From this age on it can be used independently. Younger kids will still enjoy music & stories as well as the Tonie figurines.
Yoto and Toniebox are both screen-free audio players for children. We love them both for different reasons. Read my in-depth comparison HERE!