The Yoto Player is the latest addition to the ever-growing market of screen-free audio players for children. It can’t be denied that there seems to be a certain trend. However, this is a trend that is absolutely worth it! In this blog post, I will give you the ins & outs of this ingenious device and if you decide to buy.
PLEASE NOTE: This review is based on the 2nd Generation Yoto Player (before June 2023). CLICK HERE if you would like to read more about the NEW 3rd Generation Yoto Player!
The original idea for the Yoto Player, a connected screen-free audio player that could be used independently by children dates back to 2015. When founders Filip & Ben first started building some very basic prototypes.
Their vision didn’t just include an audio device for kids, but also to add many other little features and functions like a nightlight and a kid-friendly radio. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, they were able to sell their first players in 2018 and have tirelessly worked on improving the design and function of the player as well as expanding the story & music library available.
Yoto Player Review: What is it & how does it work?
The Yoto Player is in essence a speaker, which plays audio content that is stored on physical cards. It boasts a very understated and clean look in the shape of a cube with the back featuring two rubberised angled sides. These sides allow for the coloured pixel display on the front to be tilted upwards. On the top of the box, you’ll find the two orange control knobs on each side of the card slot. These knobs control the volume and are used to skip chapters, as well as access the daily podcast and radio.
Good to know: The audio player also has a headphone socket. Perfect for quiet time or road trips!
The starter set also includes a magnetic and very compact charger and the Welcome Card. This card talks you through the initial set-up of the player and doubles as a blank card afterwards. This means you can load it with your own custom audio content.
Something I noticed and really liked was the distinct lack of plastic in the packaging of the starter set. The cards are also packaged plastic-free in a recyclable cardboard envelope.
First Impressions & Set up
In order to set up the Yoto Player, you simply pop the Welcome Card into the card slot and follow the instructions. This process connects the player to your home WiFi with the help of the Yoto App (available on iTunes and Android). Your Player can now download the content of audio cards and connect to the kids’ radio station. The entire setup process takes about ten minutes.
Once set up your little ones just slot whatever card they like to listen to in the card slot and the audio content starts playing. In addition to the cards, kids can also listen to a daily child-friendly podcast episode called Yoto Daily. My children love their daily dose of Yoto which consists of random but interesting facts, jokes, or games like Simon Says. Yoto Radio can also be accessed without the need for a card. It generally plays a mix of child-friendly music like Disney songs and modern pop music.
While playing any type of audio the pixel display shows a picture that is related to the content. This makes the story or song come to life in a lovely way. When nothing is playing but the player is switched on the display shows the time.
Yoto Player Review: What Content is available?
- Audio Content on Cards: You’ll find a huge selection of audio cards in the card store on the Yoto website. From stories, songs, and activities all the way through to sound effects. There are a good few bedtime story staples like the Julia Donaldson stories or Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. Their prices start at £4.99.
- Free Audio Content: Often Yoto offers the first chapter or the first couple of songs of an audio card for a limited time for free. Free content can be played on your player through the app.
- Yoto Daily & Yoto Radio: The daily podcast episode as well as the radio are available 24/7 for free and make the Yoto Player a fantastic asset even if you don’t want to have any audio cards.
- Make Your Own Cards: You can also make your own cards. Just pick up a pack of five blank cards in the Yoto Store and you can load it with any audio content you have. Decorate it with stickers etc and enjoy!
- Podcasts: Within your Yoto Library on the app you find a selection of free podcasts for different topics. You can either play the podcast episode directly through the player from the app or link it to a blank card. The latter allows your child to listen to the podcast without having to use your phone.
Additional Features of the Audio Player
- Yoto Player can also be used as a child-friendly sleep clock. Parents can select in the app when the display is to show a moon for nighttime and at what time the sun will appear in the morning. This concept allows young children to know when it is bedtime and at what time they are OK to get up.
- The back of the player has an integrated nightlight. Simply turn the Yoto Player on its front and the light will come on. Select your preferred nightlight colour in the app.
- The Player is completely portable. It can store up to 140 hours of audio content. Once downloaded you don’t need a WiFi connection to listen to it. This makes the Yoto Player great for travelling or sleepovers.
- Yoto Player also doubles as a Bluetooth Player. Parents have the option to allow Bluetooth pairing in the app. Once activated you can connect your phone and play any audio content on your phone or from streaming services through the Yoto Player. I think this is great as your kids will get older.
- For out and about Yoto have recently launched their Adventure Jacket. This is basically a silicone layer that snuggly fits around our Yoto Player and protects it from any damage during tumbles and falls. In addition with the screen protector, there is nowhere the Yoto Player can’t go!
The Final Verdict
Yes, it is true with the Toniebox and similar players it seems like there are already a lot of choices when it comes to screen-free audio players for kids. However, the Yoto Player adds another layer to the market, which can not be overlooked.
I particularly like the fact that Yoto appeals to older kids with the Radio and the Podcasts available for free. With the integrated option of the player being used as a Bluetooth speaker, I can see my children using the Yoto well into their teens. The simple and yet appealing design would certainly be cool enough for a teenager (or so I think!).
Even if you are personally missing anything within the current Yoto universe. Rest assured, the team at Yoto are working really hard to make improvements and expand their range of audio content and languages. During the weeks we have been testing the Yoto Player I have received updates by email and must say I am impressed with the level of progress.
Overall, I think, the Yoto Player is a great option if you are in the market for an audio player, especially for older children or pre-teens.
Yoto Player is for children from the age of 3. However, due to its many features, it can be used for a long time. Even into the teenage years. Based on my experience, I would say it is most suitable from the age of 5 years and up.
The Yoto Player supports three languages at the moment: English, French and Spanish. Blank cards can be filled with audio content of any language though.
A Yoto Player costs £89.99/€99.99 – prizes for audio cards start at £2.99/€3.99.
The Yoto Player can be used offline, as it can store up to 140 hours of audio content on its internal memory which can be played without a WiFi connection.
The battery of the Yoto Player lasts up to 10 hours when fully charged. Power saving needs to be activated for efficient energy use.
The Yoto Player cannot be used with Bluetooth headphones. However, Yoto is currently working on making this possible so keep an eye on updates! In the meantime, you can use the universal headphone socket with regular headphones.
YOTO cards are the size of a credit card. Card dimensions are 15.5 x 10.1 x 1.3cm.