Yoto Player is a speaker connected to the Internet for children. It’s a radio, podcast player and story player all in one. Better yet, it forgoes a screen so kids can rest their eyes. From a parent’s perspective, it looks like a winner. However, electronic devices intended for children are not always appreciated by their target audiences. To test it, I installed the Yoto Player with my 8 year old daughter and then I gave her carte blanche to see what she thought about it.
She immediately turned to the audiobook Flamingo Hotel and has listened to it regularly since receiving it. Yoto Player has a playful design, but nothing about its aesthetics or functions appeals to children. It is a device that anyone of any age can enjoy, but aimed at children with its audio content.
In my daughter’s own words:
“I like it because there are pictures on the front and there is good music on the radio.”
Yoto Player can keep kids entertained on their own, but it also provides a way for adults and kids to spend time together. Minus a few considerations, mainly around price, Yoto Player delivers a healthy and engaging experience without looking at a screen.
- Fun and smart design
- Decent amount of free content
- Bluetooth connectivity and headphone jack
- Additional Yoto cards may increase in price
- Making your own cards can be a bit tricky to implement
Buy on Amazon.
What is the Yoto reader?
At its heart, the Yoto Player is a kid-friendly speaker. It is difficult to reduce the device to a single use. Even if there is no traditional display, the faceplate will light up to show the time and weather conditions as a clock. Rotate the unit on its face and the back will light up to become a night light. It works on its own, but it can also be a bluetooth speaker for an iPad or phone. Yoto Player is extremely versatile without necessarily compromising on any of its uses.
Once a Yoto player is set up, likely using a parent’s phone, it doesn’t need the phone to operate it. This means that parents shouldn’t be constantly asked to start a story or turn on the music. In my opinion, Yoto Player perfectly mixes the physical world, with its maps that fit into the top, with the digital context in which it lives. For example, once a card is inserted into the reader, it appears in the associated mobile app. If a card is lost in the future, it can still be listened to.
In the companion app, parents control the limitation of daytime and nighttime volumes. The physical buttons can be customized to do certain things. Nightlight colors can also be chosen to personalize the experience.
The audio quality is good. Speech is widely audible and the main concern here. While Yoto Player is first and foremost a speaker, its audio quality is secondary to its content as well. It is not sold for its high fidelity; dazzling sound is not expected. My daughter never once mentioned that something sounded wrong.
Audio content: books, radio and podcasts
If audio content is king, then what types of content does Yoto offer? I received the starter card pack, which included audiobooks like Flamingo Hotel, cracklings of fire and a blank card Make your own, along with a few other stories and activity cards. I also received the new one The one and only Shrek audiobook card, which contains five stories.
My daughter tried all the cards right away. With a strong internet connection, the Yoto Player will start playing a card within seconds. When a card is removed, the audio pauses and resumes in the same place when reinserted. When stories are being played, the orange play buttons can be used to move forward or backward.
She loved Flamingo Hotel and listened to it every day for the first three days. She also liked the Shrek stories and listened to them more than once. She is also a big fan of the crackling sounds of fire. Yoto Player displays a pixelated image on the front that matches the content being played.
The music radio station can be started at any time from an orange button. The styles of music he plays vary a bit, so the fun can be hit and miss. There is also a daily radio show, Yoto Daily, which as a parent I found interesting. One day the host organized a trivia game and my daughter and I both learned that a herd of giraffes is called a tower. The next day the host shared information about the Netherlands. There are daily birthday cries for children all over the world. It’s neat and can be streamed on demand for that day.
In the Yoto app, you can find about a dozen free radio programs and an equal number of free podcasts aimed at kids. If you have a Make Your Own card, this free content can be linked to a card, so kids can play it anytime.
This part of linking content to your own cards is straightforward. But it is possible to download audio or any stream available on the internet and link it to a card. It takes a little more work and creativity to find the content.
Should you buy a Yoto player?
The Yoto player and its audio content generally work best for elementary school children. It’s great for kids who are learning to read or kids who are continually curious. It’s also great for kids and parents to connect through stories and podcasts. Even beyond the targeted age group, the Yoto Player has the ability to continue to be useful as an all-purpose Bluetooth speaker and clock.
There’s enough free content to satisfy most young listeners, but the potential ongoing cost of the new Yoto cards might be the player’s biggest drawback for parents on a budget. If the $ 100 reader plus the cost of a few cards are on hand, then this kid-friendly speaker is absolutely worth the price for the stimulating screen-less time it can provide.
Buy on Amazon for $ 99.99.
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