5 July 2020

REVIEW: Yoto Player

Magical box

If it's one thing that the Covid-19 lockdown has taught us, it's that it can be all too easy to hand your kids a phone or tablet and let them entertain  themselves for a few hours. All that screen time, however, can have a detrimental effect, so were keen to try a new digital gadget for kids that doesn't have a screen. We check out the Yoto Player.

Yoto Player is, to cut a long story short, an interactive music and story player than kids can control themselves. They can listen to songs, hear a story, and enjoy sound effects, all without staring at a screen. It does this by way of cards. Kids drop a specific card into the top of Yoto Player and moments later the story, song, radio station or whatever will begin to play. And on the front... a fun LED matrix display that shows fun, colourful characters and symbols.

Once set up in the companion app (you parents will need to be involved here) kids can position the Yoto wherever they like. It comes with a rechargeable battery, so it can lifted from the magnetic charging plate easily, to be carried about the room. However, we found that our kids decided on a place and left it there for good. As that 'screen-less' face displays a clock by default, the side of the bed seemed a logical location.

Supplied along with the Yoto Player are a pretty decent collection of cards. Other cards are available from the Card Store on the Yoto website, and there was an impressive array, read by some famous people. For example, along with ours was Enid Blyton's The Enchanted Wood, read by Kate Winslet, no less.

However, the kids really didn't care who was reading the story - instead they cared that is was read well, and that with each part, the image on the front of the device changed to represent the theme of the story. It was a very chilled out experience, all told.

But Yoto does more than play the cards. Double tap on the right side button and you'll connect to Yoto Radio, a free 24 hour station that plays a varied mix of music. We dipped in and out and heard pop songs, classical music, and random kids' music, seemingly from the 1950s. The kids loved it, as they could crank up the volume and have some fun, random music kicking out in their room.

One blank card was included with the Yoto Player, and this could be used for something really cool. In the app, the parent can make a special playlist from anything on their phone, from tracks to voice recordings, and link them to the blank card. Then, when the kids drop it into the player, it will automatically play that playlist, without the grown-up's phone having to be connected. We used the feature in a very sensible way... by recording and playing back us all making fart sounds.

Flip the Yoto Player on its front and an LED will glow in the rear, turning it into a subtle but effective night light. The colour and brightness of the light can be edited in the app, but it's another cool feature that the kids really loved. They could detach it from the charging base, take it into a fort or den, then flip it to provide light. That's what we call versatility.

So we're genuinely impressed with the Yoto Player. Even if it just played the cards, at around £4.99 per additional story, we'd be happy splashing out on or two a month for the kiddies. But because there is so much more going on here - namely the free Yoto Radio and blank card programming - we really do recommend it.


Available from amazon.co.uk 

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