Hey friends! Suzanne here. We have some exciting news here at THL! We just added Yoto to our line-up of brands. What is Yoto? It's an audio system that is designed so that kids can listen to songs and stories independently.
Our cheerful Yoto display that will greet you at our shop
I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING.
"Umm, isn't that what a Toniebox is? And doesn't The Happy Lark already carry Tonies?"
The three options, side by side
All factual. We have carried Tonies for over a year and we love and adore them. My family has had a Toniebox since the beginning, and we still use it pretty much every day. I bought a Toniebox for my now three year-old, with the plan of eventually buying one for my older kiddos, but.... I just never pulled the trigger. My older two are now eight and ten, and the truth is that Tonies just doesn't have a lot of content for their ages. My older two also never really asked for a Toniebox. They use it sometimes, but their opinion was it was a bit too babyish for them to want one of their own.
Yoto Mini vs Yoto Player
A quick rundown: a Toniebox is basically a speaker that you put magnetic little figurines (Tonies) on. The Tonies come pre-loaded with content. Put on a new figure to listen to something different. The Yoto (and Mini) is also basically a speaker, but the content comes on cards that you insert into the top of the Yoto Player or Yoto Mini.
I love the Yoto accessories! This is the Card Case.
I'm in SeVeRaL Tonies/Yoto Facebook groups (IYKYK) and it's definitely the hive mind consensus that the Toniebox gears younger and the Yoto gears older. So, after doing research, I was ready to buy them for my older two. And why would I buy it for my family and not bring it into the shop?!
We purposely bought content geared toward older kiddos
I bought a Yoto Player for my eight year-old son and the Yoto Mini for my ten year-old daughter. So far, they are each VERY pleased. The Yoto lineup definitely reads more hip/retro than the Toniebox. I went a bit "all out" with the accessories. For the Yoto Player we added the Adventure Jacket (a silicone protective covering that comes in fun colors) and Card Case for storing his cards.
He's the cutest, and he is loving his Yoto Player
For the Yoto Mini, we added the Mini Adventure Jacket and the Mini Travel Case. The Travel Case is pretty awesome-- it stores up to 30 cards, the Yoto Mini, and headphones. It has a long strap so kids can wear it as a cross body, and a hole so they can wear their headphones and listen while they walk. My ten year-old thought that was SO COOL.
She's the coolest, and I think the Yoto Mini is perfect for a ten year-old
So now that we have all three player options between Yoto and Tonies, I thought I would give a quick pros and cons rundown of both and then my overall thoughts on which one is best for different situations and types of kiddos.
A note on pricing: The Toniebox and the Yoto Player cost the same ($99.99) but the in my opinion necessary adventure jacket ($29.99) will put the cost of the Yoto above the Toniebox. However, the content will end up being significantly cheaper on the Yoto. For example, the book my daughter is listening to is FOUR AND A HALF HOURS LONG. All on one card. My friends, you just can't do that with the Toniebox. Now, that is not the norm and many of the cards are closer to the 30 minute to an hour mark, but still. So impressive! And that one 4.5 hour card was $11.99. What a deal!! In comparison, each Tonie is $14.99, and lengths range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes.
Pros: To me the number one pro of the Toniebox is the Tonies. These are the figurines that carry the content. Kids LOVE them. My daughter is so attracted to them and she plays with them throughout the day. The Toniebox is also super durable. It is padded, and ours has been thrown several times and still works just fine. The whole system is very appealing to younger kids. It works great, and we love it.
If you have a wild child, I would still go with the Toniebox
Cons: The main con for us is the lack of content for ages 6+. There is some, but it is limited. There is also just less content in general than there is for Yoto. I also wish they would focus more on literature as opposed to licensed Tonies (Disney, Paw Patrol, etc.). It's also not great for travel. We have taken ours on an airplane and many car rides, but it's a bit bulky. I won't be surprised if Tonies come out with a travel Toniebox soon, but nothing yet. One other complaint we have is that if you are listening to a Tonie, take it off and put on another Tonie, then put the original Tonie back on, it starts at the beginning. I think this makes total sense for short content, but if you are a big kid listening to a two hour-long story, it can be frustrating.
Pros: Lots of big kid content. When I saw Holes by Louis Sachar in the catalog I think I actually squealed. The Yoto Player also has a clock, which you can program to act as a sleep/wake clock. Another nifty built-in feature is the daily podcast and radio. These have turned out to be my eight year-old's favorite features. One more pro is that unlike the Tonie, a card will pick back up where you left off when you re-insert it.
I love the fun pixelated "screen" on the Yoto. Even the Mini has a mini one!
Cons: Like I said, we purchased the Adventure Jackets, but I would be much more skeptical about its durability without it. The Toniebox is made to be, err, tossed around a bit, and that makes sense since we've decided it is geared towards younger kiddos. Also, a few of the fun features (radio, podcast, and clock) aren't available if the player isn't connected to WiFi. That makes sense for the radio and podcast, but the clock? Come on! Also, the controls are definitely not as intuitive as the Toniebox controls. I think a child younger than five might initially struggle.
Night light mode
The Mini is a travel-sized version of the Yoto Player. It's kind of like the Walkman version of the Yoto. It is oh-so cute and adorable, and my ten year-old couldn't love it more. It's extra great for her because she shares a room with our three year-old daughter (pray for us!) and she can easily keep it on her top bunk to listen to at night. I won't do a whole pros and cons section since the main features are the same as the Yoto Player, but it's worth noting that it does not have the night light feature.
This is the clock on the Yoto Mini. She's cute!
CONCLUSION: I would buy a Toniebox for ages four and under, and a Yoto Player or Yoto Mini for ages 5+. There are many folks out there who have both (hi, hello, it's us) and I will not personally judge you if you go that route. They are both awesome products and we are proud to carry both in our shop. If you live in or around Fort Worth, come see us. We have demos of all three in our shop. Stop by and try them out!
Gotta have 'em all?!
Note: Both Tonies and Yoto have an add-your-own-content option. This is the Creative Tonie and the Make Your Own Yoto Cards. They are both a bit more difficult than one would hope, and in my opinion it's a wash on that count. That's a whole topic for another day!
We hope you found this blog post helpful! If you did, would you consider sharing it with a friend or purchasing Tonies or Yoto products from us? Thanks!!
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