Many parents with young children will understand the constant battle between screen time and play time, and may be looking for a compromise that will give kids the chance to listen to engaging stories without any screens involved. The Toniebox can provide just that. It is a fun, interactive box that allows kids to listen to a wide variety of stories and music, and you can record your own audio to play back any time.
What is a Toniebox?
The concept is quite simple: it’s a portable cube with a speaker built in and a platform on the top. Place a Tonie (a little figurine, of which there are more than 100 to choose from, each sold separately) onto the surface to listen to its songs and stories. Each Tonie has a distinct set of songs and stories, and your child will soon learn which will play the particular audio they’re looking for.
We have a rabbit that plays nursery rhymes, a Paw Patrol character (Skye, if you’re wondering) that plays songs and stories from the show, Simba from the Lion King and Lightning McQueen from Cars with familiar Disney songs and stories.
Our toddler enjoys playing with the figures even when she isn’t using them with the Toniebox. They’re well made and colourful, but we did notice some colour transfer between the figures themselves as well as onto the top of the Toniebox.
The Starter Set comes with a blank Creative Tonie that matches the colour of your Toniebox (you can choose from red, blue, green, pink, purple or grey), ready for you to add about an hour’s worth of your own stories and songs to. You can get grandparents and other family members to record stories for your kids to listen to when they’re not around, for example. A lovely idea if you don’t have the chance to see each other much.
Ease of use
To add audio to a Creative Tonie, you’ll need to log in to your account on the Tonie website and upload an audio file. This can be done from your phone, tablet or computer, and is very quick and easy. You can also add a selection of free audio files available on the Tonies website.
Once you’ve added the audio file to your chosen Tonie on the website, you’ll just need to press and hold one of the ‘ears’ (which act as volume controls) until the light on the top of the box flashes blue, then you’re ready to listen.
Our toddler quickly mastered the volume controls (much to our dismay), but took a while longer to manage skipping tracks. To skip ahead or go backwards you need to slap the side of the box with surprising force. This is much easier when the Toniebox isn’t resting on its charging pad.
Performance & Battery Life
The Toniebox battery lasts around seven hours when fully charged, although a higher volume level may deplete this faster. In our experience we managed just over six hours but our toddler does have a preference for high volume.
We were pleasantly surprised by the audio quality. It’s clear, crisp and balanced. The audio recordings we uploaded from our phone sounded much better on the Toniebox than when played back from our iPhone 12.
There is also an audio jack on top of the Toniebox to allow the use of headphones, but there’s no Bluetooth capability for wireless headphones.
Price & Availability
In the UK, the Toniebox Starter Set costs £69.95, and comes with one Creative Tonie. Each additional Tonie costs £14.99, with special offers sometimes available.
You can buy it from Tonies itself, or from third parties like Amazon or Smyths.
In the US, the price for Starter Sets is higher at $99.99, but rather than coming with a blank Creative Tonie you’ll a Puppy Tonie with content already activated. Each additional Tonie is $14.99. You can also create your own bundle or keep an eye out at third party sellers for bundles with additional Tonies included, like this one at Amazon.
The price of the box itself is very fair, but building up a collection of Tonies can get pricey.
Overall we really like the Toniebox. Screen-free entertainment with content for kids of all ages with varying interests means it’s a product that’ll get plenty of use among families for years.
We wish it had Bluetooth capabilities for wireless headphones, but more importantly to offer the ability to use it as a portable Bluetooth speaker like you can with the Yoto Player. We also prefer the Yoto Player’s magnetic charging pad.
That said, the Tonies themselves rather than Yoto’s cards add something to the experience of using the Toniebox, and the colourful, robust design is ideal. It would make a brilliant gift, and additional Tonies are perfect for friends and family to buy.
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