Yoto Player review

Yoto Player

by Hannah James |

Every parent knows that too much screentime before bed can be a recipe for disaster. When those tired eyes are fixated on their tablet, it can be very difficult to tear the prying hands away - making brushing teeth and winding down almost impossible. But what is a parent to do when the chores of caring for a child all day have taken their toll? The clock is ticking. It’s not quite bedtime, but you are tired. The days are long, but the years are short. Introducing the Yoto Player, or as my children call it, the bedtime robot. The audible storyteller takes the strain away from parents at bedtime.

Related: The best bedtime stories for babies


I tried Yoto Player with my four-year-old. Yoto is aimed at children aged three and over. However, their product cards are suitable for children from birth to 12-years-old. Here is my Yoto Player review: the pros, cons and anything else you may want to know before purchasing.

What is a Yoto Player?

The Yoto is a cube audio device. It looks very sweet, and when you turn it on using the button at the right corner and on pops a pixelated face - it's why my children think he is a robot. The purpose of the Yoto Player is to act as a storyteller for your child. The Yoto has a slot where your child can easily insert a story card to listen to.

You can buy the cards from Yoto directly and on Amazon. Unlike other smart devices, the Yoto does not use a camera, microphone or have any annoying adverts.

So, how does the Yoto Player work?

Once your child slots in the story they want to listen to, the Yoto Player brings it to life with a pixeled picture. Should you need to stop the device at any point - pull out the physical card, and the story will stop. To continue listening, reinsert the card, and it will continue where you left off. It's smart technology at its best.

Has your little one finished listening to the story? Remove the card, and the Yoto will display the time, or you can turn the device onto its front, where it will illuminate with a changeable colour to act as a nightlight. Plus, the light can be controlled by an adult from the comfort of your smartphone.

The Yoto app also stores all of your stories so that your child can listen to them on the go via your phone. You can also pause a story, turn it off or change parental controls on the device.

If that wasn’t enough, youngsters can tune in to free daily content, including a children’s radio and podcast, but you must be connected to the internet for this feature to work.

If you are unsure which cards to pick or want to save a little bit of money, you can sign up for the Yoto Club. It gives you 10 per cent off each future purchase and delivery.

For £9.99 each month, Yoto will send you two cards pre-picked. They will always be new to Yoto and exclusive to club members first. If you do not like the picks, you can change them for one of eight other choices before the deadline.
If your Yoto runs out of charge, put it on the Magnetic Yoto Charging Dock that it comes with.

Girl using a Yoto player
©Yoto

Pros

• No adverts – This is a huge one for me. There is nothing worse than the constant complaining of a child when adverts are interrupting their listening.

• Design – The Yoto design is faultless. It is robust enough to be handled by a pre-schooler, and it feels like it is made to last.

• Nightlight feature – The nightlight feature is brilliant. It acts as a perfect visual way of showing your child that it’s time to go to sleep. Once the story is done, and the Yoto is down, it’s time to close your eyes.

• A huge selection of stories. There is a vast collection of children’s stories ranging from classics to modern bestsellers, educational to imaginative fiction.

• The Yoto Club - it's great value for money.

• There's up to 10 hours of play per charge.

• Magnetic charging dock - It is robust, easy to use and unlikely to be misplaced, unlike many of the other chargers that now all look the same.

• Child friendly – Children can easily understand how to insert the cards themselves. Letting them choose their own night-time story helps to get them engaged.

Cons

• Smart tablet, it is not – I say this very begrudgingly because this is both a pro and a con. It is one of the things I love about the Yoto and one of the things my children don’t. It is a story audio device, and if you are wanting something that your child can play with or spend time engaging with, it’s unlikely that this will fit that criteria.

• Expensive – The device itself is a very reasonable price, in my opinion, and the Yoto Club, as previously mentioned, is a fantastic way of saving. However, some of the Yoto story cards are priced considerably higher than a traditional book would cost.

• Not engaging enough for the daytime. To be completely fair, this could just be my children. I am sure some little boys and girls would sit nicely and listen to a Yoto story in the middle of the day; however, they unfortunately do not in my household. For children under eight, I think it would be a hard task to get them to pick the Yoto in the daytime over other toys, games and devices.

Price

As previously mentioned, I think that the price of the Yoto Player is very reasonable. Sitting at just under £80, it is a small price to pay for a slightly more peaceful night. However, some multipack cards are retailing at more than £20, and a single card will set you back on average £7. That said, you are paying for the luxury of someone else reading to your child rather than telling the story itself.

Key features

The Yoto experience – This is based on a new experience for your child. They are screen-free and in control of their listening.

Audio – The audio is loud enough for your child to listen comfortably, but even on full volume it is not offensive to your ears.

Physical cards – The physical cards are robust enough to be managed by little hands. They are easily slotted into the Yoto and come with a lovely design on each.

Pixel display – With each chapter, the Yoto displays another pixelated image, which helps to keep young minds engaged.

Night light – Once the story has finished, the Yoto doubles up as a night light, securely cementing its usefulness as a part of the bedtime routine.

Bluetooth - The Yoto device has Bluetooth capabilities like any other audio speaker. Your child can connect to your phone, laptop or tablet to listen to other audio.

My son testing his Yoto
©Hannah James

Testing the Yoto Player

Would you recommend this to other mums?

Yes. I have given this a lot of thought, and I really would recommend the Yoto Player. My reasons are very simple - anything that makes parenting easier gets a thumbs up from me. After a long hard day of parenting, sometimes it can be a real chore to have to then read endless stories to your child. This is when the Yoto steps in and makes life that little bit easier.

When I tested the device with my children, they lay in bed nicely and listened to the stories. The library is vast, and there will be something for everyone, which I love about the product.

How did this product make your life easier?

In terms of making life easier, this for me, is Yoto’s biggest selling point. As previously mentioned, it is a huge help in the bedtime routine. I also really love the night light feature. My eldest son has a slight fear of the dark and was overjoyed when he learnt his robot would keep him safe.

What changes would you make to the Yoto Player?

There are a few changes I would make to the Yoto Player. Firstly, I love the card aspect, but there isn’t anywhere to store them without paying extra. This is a slight problem with the Yoto - everything comes at an extra cost. So, although the device is reasonable, all of the cards and accessories make this a luxurious purchase.

Secondly, I wish there it was slightly more interactive. Possibly because my children are younger, the Yoto is lost in the chaos of the day. It is solely used at night. If it did have a microphone or the ability to ask/answer questions, I think the children may engage with it more in the day.

Overall thoughts

My overall thoughts are that I really do like the Yoto Player. I think the priced tablet can rest easy knowing that this device isn’t going to steal its place on the sofa anytime soon. However, it is a welcomed break and an established part of our bedtime routine now. Some nights Yoto is my hero, the little cube robot is the only thing that keeps me sane after a long day of parenting. But, on those nights when I am not exhausted, I would still personally opt for a cuddle and a traditional bedtime story.

What's in the Box

Yoto Player

Magnetic charging dock

Welcome card (can be re-used as a make your own card)

Quick start guide

Safety information leaflet

Read more parent Yoto Player Reviews

Why do you think this product is so different to anything else on the market?

Gillian: I have never seen anything like this on the market. My toddler finds it so simple to use, I love that there is no screen, just simple graphics which my toddler loved! It’s a nice sized product and came very nicely packaged with easy to understand set up instructions. I love that the max volumes can all be controlled from the app.

Nicola: I really like this product, it has provided my daughter with time to listen and learn without the need for a screen which I feel is very few and far between these days. Don’t get me wrong I am all for screen time for learning/ a distraction whilst I cook the dinner but this product has arrived and it’s nice to have a change. She has been listening, watching the Yoto player and joining in with just a very basic photo popping up!

Laura: To my knowledge, this is a completely original product. I haven’t heard of anything like the Yoto player before. It’s portable and versatile and, unlike iPad, etc and it encouraged my daughter to use her imagination. There are a huge range of lovely, well-known stories so there’s something to suit everyone and additional cards to add to your library would make great birthday or Christmas presents. It can be used at night in conjunction with parent-read stories or during the day to inspire imaginative play. The Yoto player is small and light so would be perfect to take on holiday or maybe sleepovers.

Why does it change your life with your baby?

Gillian: "We put this in my toddler's playroom and after giving him instructions once on how to use it he was away, there was no asking me “can I put this on “can I put a story on." We got him a radio card and even I enjoy listening to it (definitely makes me more relaxed as I don’t have a toddler nagging every 2 sections while I'm trying to feed a newborn."

Laura: "It got her to sleep in her own bed for the first time EVER!! My daughter has never been a great sleeper and usually takes hours of cuddles for her to drop off. Since changing our routine to incorporate the Yoto Player she is now able to fall asleep on her own. We still have a bedtime story and cuddles but now I put the Yoto Player on and she is happy for me to leave the room. The Yoto Player has also improved her listening and concentration. When we listen to the stories together she is able to discuss the plot and what she thought of it."

Jessica: "Independent activity that engages them for a period of time. I’m not sure it ‘changes life with my children’ but definitely allows for a time where they are occupied; therefore enabling me as a parent some time to do other things around the house for instance, or have a bit of rest! Was ideal on holiday as both transportable and engaging!!"

What excites you about this product?

Meera: "It’s a fun product for the children to use which isn’t an iPad/tablet! It is compact, durable, build is perfect for younger children. Peace of mind as a parent that your child is able to listen to curated, appropriate, safe content. Parental controls for things like controlling maximum speaker volume is also available via the App. It is easy to set-up on WiFi via the Yoto App (even I can do it!). Really simple and easy to use for children – physical cards Free content available on the Player and the App Nightlight is a cool additional benefit and it also has Bluetooth so can be used as a speaker."

Gillian: "I love that this product is very child friendly, easy for a child to use, very child friendly, he loves the music radio, all the song iv noticed are modern yet have been altered to be child-friendly lyrics, we got the sounds cards, I loved the little display picture (breath of fresh air not having a screen like a tv which made it gentle on the eyes) and he loved listening to the sounds figuring out what they were. It is so simple and I know its safe.

Laura: "The Yoto Player is exciting as it is a new way of getting young children excited about books and storytelling. It encourages children to explore their imaginations, inspired by the stories as opposed to TV and iPads which encourages children to ‘switch off’ their brains. Whilst I don’t think the Yoto Player should or would want to replace reading with parents and carers I think the two can work brilliantly in unison to promote reading and creativity within young children."

What one thing would you change about this product?

Gillian: "As a multi lingual household I would love to see some other languages available especially Welsh (granted there are blank cards to create our own which is great!), welsh animals, a few welsh stories (even if they are translated versions of the current books as kids love them). There is literally nothing like this on the market so it would be snapped up."

Jessica: "Slightly ‘clunky’ app interface with regards to it not being very intuitive. Difficult to change the Wi-Fi settings if moving between locations. However, this appears to be better on the newer version of the app. We also don’t feel the speakers themselves are of very high quality the sound can sometimes be mediocre."

Laura: "It would be great to have the option to buy either the book or a series of illustrations to read/look at whilst listening to the story. I understand that most of the books are well known and easily found elsewhere but some kind of book or booklet that could complement the story and be used to store the card would be lovely. These could also be used to encourage conversation, or maybe other creative tasks, around the story. It would also provide somewhere to store the cards safely as they are quite small and I fear could be lost behind/ under furniture etc easily."

FAQs

Does Yoto turn itself off?

Don’t worry, after one hour of inactivity your Yoto will turn itself off.

Does Yoto Player have a timer?

If you would like to set a timer as a parent, you can do via the app. It allows you to set a sleep timer so that the Yoto Player can stop reading to after your child after a selected amount of time - perfect for bedtimes.

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