At a GlanceExpert’s Rating
ProsQuality kid-focussed contentMake Your Own optionConsExtra content gets expensiveCharging cable has USB-A on one endOur Verdict
Yoto Player is a special Bluetooth speaker that plays kid-friendly audio content from a wide range of cards.
Yoto Player is a Bluetooth speaker that’s designed and built especially for kids—and, just as importantly, for parents.
Its main function is to play audio content supplied by physical cards (with integrated NFC chip), although it works just as well as a standalone Bluetooth speaker you can pair with a phone or tablet.
Aside from a very basic matrix pixel display, there’s no actual screen–which is meant as a benefit, and an alternative to yet more distracting and harmful screen time on a kid’s tablet or phone.
How much screen time for kids?
There’s no camera, microphone or social sharing, so it’s secure from external misuse.
You pop a special card into the Yoto Player and the audio starts—streaming at first, then downloading onto the Player. When you take the card out, the audio stops. You use the big orange buttons to control play, volume, etc.
All the content cards are kid-friendly, and feature kids’ classics and big-name narrators. There’s Imelda Staunton reading The Gruffalo, or Kate Winslet on Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood or Roald Dahl’s Matilda. The Yoto Card Store has a rich library: Mog, Ladybird Adventures, Malory Towers, Julia Donaldson, Hans Christian Anderson, Kipling’s Jungle Book, and even Oscar Wilde…
There are National Curriculum phonics letters and sounds cards plus other educational content, and meditation/mindfulness options, too. The Phonics pack comes a guide and imagery to assist with some of the exercises.
Cards cost from $3.99 or £2.99 each, and you can buy bundles, such as a Wimpy Kid, Narnia, Famous Five and Roald Dahl collections from around $30 or £25. If you get carried away, the cost could mount up.
There is also free content, with podcasts, jokes and fun facts added daily. There’s even a content-controlled radio option.
And Yoto is branching out into music. You can buy 52 minutes of Queen’s Greatest Hits for $15!
The content is for ages ranging from babies to 12 year-olds, although—as with all children’s toys—the player isn’t recommended below 3 years old. Toddlers are a law unto themselves.
What’s really special is the ability to create your own audio content cards—maybe grandparents reading stories, or favorite songs sung by family members or friends. This function really sets it apart, and opens up plenty of creative possibilities.
Via the app, you make your own audio files from your phone or tablet, and then load them onto a blank card, which can then be decorated.
A 10-pack of reusable Make Your Own Cards costs $25 / £20, including draw-on stickers.
Obviously, we wouldn’t recommend parents give up reading to their children with real books, which is essential for their education and bonding. But having the audio option can have its uses at other times of the day.
Sometimes kids want to take back some control, and, of course, just love gadgets.
Yoto Player control
The player is portable, with a rechargeable battery that lasts a few hours–charged by a safe magnetic dock.
It is controlled either by two orange buttons on the top or via an app (iOS and Android).
You can also use the Yoto Player as a normal Bluetooth speaker, and the sound quality is pretty decent. Yoto has improved audio quality, with the Yoto Player now in its third generation.
There are wired, volume-limited headphones that connect to the player. We found these very quiet with the app-controlled limiter on, and acceptable with it off. We think there are better kids’ headphones available, but you’ll need to pick some wired headphones to work with the player.
The player’s speaker can go quite loud. We all know how painful kids’ audio content can be, especially when it’s played over and over again until adults go insane, so thankfully you can set the speaker volume in the app, or just switch to headphones (also volume limited for safety).
The Player is also a night light with seven night light colors to choose from, and clock (12- or 24-hour) as well as a smart speaker.
Parents can set the Ok-to-wake clock that lets their kids know when it’s officially time to get up. The player’s clock and night light change to show that it’s wake-up time.
There are parental settings in the app, which control the volume limiter, night light colour and brightness, and button shortcuts.
For best results you need the free app and a Wi-Fi connection.
Tested by kids
Our tester, six-year-old Olive, carried the Yoto Player around with her, listening to stories at night, daily facts at breakfast time, and throughout the day listening to Mrs H’s songs. She took to it straight away.
And her one-year-old brother Remy will be able to enjoy it too, and it might do the trick at sleepovers and parties while parents can maybe relax a little.
Olive’s parents certainly appreciated the constructive distraction offered by Yoto Player, and its lack of full screen.
The player is well made and looks robust enough for most responsible (ish) children.
Yoto Player price
The Yoto Player costs $119.99 or £99.99, and comes with a Welcome Card, Quick Start Guide, and 1.5m charging cable. You’ll need to add your own charger, and as the included charging cable has old-fashioned USB-A on one end and USB-C on the other, you’ll need a charger with a USB-A port. Alternatively, if you own a USB-C charger for your phone or laptop, you can use a third-party USB-A cable. Check out our roundup of the best phone chargers.
Previous versions of the player came with a wireless charging dock, and this can still be purchased separately.
You’ll need to buy some content cards at the same time. We’d have preferred a couple of free cards with the player, but there are bundle options when you buy direct.
Buying lots of content would get quite expensive, but you can inexpensively create your own content, and get faraway family and friends to join in, too.
It would be expensive on its own as a Bluetooth speaker, but comes into its own when you use the cards.
There’s also a smaller travel-friendly Yoto Mini Player available, costing $69.99 or £59.99.
Most music or audio devices require a screen somewhere in the chain, so any tech for kids that doesn’t include one is to be cheered. Of course, you can use it as a standalone Bluetooth speaker with a phone or tablet if you want.
There’s plenty of safe content to hit most age groups, and we liked the educational options, such as Phonics. The ability to create your own audio cards is the really special part.
The player is sleek and well-designed, and it’s easy to set up via the app and on-player controls.