While most of the reviews we do here tend to center around accessories for mobile devices, every once in a while we will check out something a bit more fringe or unique. Up for review today we have the Yoto Player. And even though it does pair with your phone, it can operate as a standalone device for the younger demographic.
What is the Yoto Player?
The Yoto Player is a connected speaker that has carefully and thoughtfully added content to treat children, both young and old. The parent has the choice of loading cards with books and stories and music (sold separately) that are age appropriate to the child or children listening. There is also an option to create a custom card.
The player is a cubelike shape, weighing just a few pounds. It has two knobs on the top that look like ears, a slot for a card containing music or a book, and a power button along the side.
The front has a pixel display that can show a small picture relating to the book/story that is being told or an image that shows the Yoto Player radio is playing. When the player isn’t in use, but still powered on, it displays the time and an image depicting day or night.
There is also a nightlight feature, where the selected color can be lilac, red, green, yellow, blue or white. It can also be turned off. To charge the player, there is a magnetic dock that it connects to.
To get started, the owner is asked to scan the QR code in the Quick Start guide. Unfortunately, the QR code in the booklet led to an unknown page, but it did take it to the Yoto Player website, so the setup software could be downloaded from there. The app was available for both iOS and Android.
Once the app was downloaded, the setup was pretty simple and straightforward. Settings include naming the player, the previously mentioned nightlight color, allowing Bluetooth pairing, a max volume limit, an option to make the clock a 24 hour clock with optional time zone selection and a battery saver option.
The player comes with a welcome card, any others must be purchased separately. There is also a daily podcast to listen to and Yoto Radio, which has family friendly music featuring different styles like pop and jazz.
The website is primarily a UK site, with a link to purchase things in the US. Unfortunately the US site can be tricky to use. If the content selector is used, it produces very few, if any results available for the US.
The same goes if clicking on one of the graphics along the top (Roald Dahl, Ladybird Collection, Mog collection and Yoto originals.) If no selections are made, the screen does populate with items that are both available and sold out.
For the US, the majority of the selections appear to be sold out. In order to receive the best option for cards, it can be suggested to purchase either the starter pack that has six cards, or the Splendiferous Collection by Roald Dahl, which includes six books by Dahl and the six starter pack cards. There is also an option to join the Yoto Club, but unfortunately, it is not currently available for the US.
The Yoto Player is designed to be used wirelessly, lightweight enough for a child to carry around to listen to the tales and tunes it plays. The testing of the player was a bit disappointing, as the battery life was not long; the player tended to shut down after a few minutes, requiring it to be put back on the charger and rebooting.
The battery life seemed to vary day by day, some days a full charge would last several hours, other days it would last only a few minutes. It created some frustration with the younger testers looking forward to listening to the Yoto Radio station.
Loading the cards was an easy thing to do, and once the player has downloaded the card, it can be accessed through the app.
Overall, the Yoto Player leaves mixed thoughts. It is a wonderful concept for parents to allow their children to have their own wireless speaker to listen to stories and music. Unfortunately, the ability to obtain those stories and music can be difficult depending on where the family resides. The best option is to purchase one of the special packages along with the player-both a savings in cost and savings in frustration.
The speaker runs about $100 and that doesn’t include cards to listen to. For what it’s worth, a $25 bundle can be purchased for $10 during the initial purchase. The prices for the individual books and music, if available, are similar to other online audiobook and music purchases.
If the speaker would deliver a consistent performance, it would easily be a great item for families with children. It can introduce children and families to many classic tales and songs and would be good for kids that want their own speaker to select what they listen to.