Two of the splashiest tech products on the market these days for kids (especially younger kids/under 10 or so) are the Yoto Player and the Toniebox. Both are screen-free (ish, the Yoto has a tiny screen that displays a single icon), microphone-free, video-game-free audio players designed for kids to be able to control on their own.

Lots of people really like one or the other, or both! But a question that shows up in parenting social media groups over and over and over since they've been out and popular is: which one should I get?

Note: Yoto comes in two sizes, the Yoto Mini, and the Yoto Player which is a bit bigger and can work as an alarm clock/okay-to-wake clock. They use the same audio cards.

Here's a summary of the Yoto vs Toniebox debate, as I understand it:

  • Toniebox operates with small plastic figures that you place on the box to make the audio play. Yoto uses durable plastic cards inserted into the player. My nearly 2.5 year old has no problem inserting the cards.
  • the Toniebox has more content for younger kids, like <4 years old, and then kinda tapers off in what's available. Yotos Player has lots more content available for older kids, too, like full-length audio chapterbooks you can get.
  • Yoto Player has more foreign language/non English content available, especially in Spanish and French but also a couple other languages.
  • Bring Your Own Audio uses: Yoto has blank "Make your own cards" that hold up to 100 tracks of 500 mb of audio. You can put a sticker on the card to customize the appearance/keep track of what's on it. Tonie has "creative tonies" that can be customized with 90 minutes of your own audio. They sell various different figures you can get, or a figure you can paint yourself. IMO Yoto is the clear winner here, with more storage per card, and the ease of customizing the exterior being to simply put a sticker on, rather than remembering what figure goes with what set of songs.
  • Yoto seems a lot more portable to me. Especially with the Yoto Mini, but I've heard folks say they take the full size Yoto in the car or on a plane or whatever with no problem.

# So what did my kid get?

We recently got a Yoto Mini and my kid (age 2.5) loves it. It's nice for the car where she can listen to Baby Shark over and over and over and we can keep the volume nice and low (or connect her headphones) so the grownups can still have a conversation. We got the "adventure jacket", a silicone sleeve for the player that protects it.

If you're buying a new Yoto Player or Yoto Mini (and probably adding the adventure jacket and a card or two or some make-your-own cards), it's cost effective to sign up for the Yoto Club subscription, which is $10/month. It gives you 10% off all orders (so, very worth it if you're putting in a $100 order...) and gives you two card credits per month. Sign up for it to get the 10% off your first order, order your two extra free cards, then feel free to cancel right away to not get charged again.

# Recall recap

I missed the Yoto Mini sale in November 2023... and then they were out of stock til April or May 2024. In the mean time, there was a recall on the original Yoto Mini. The text of the recall claimed the cord just needed to be replaced, but the actual problem was that the player battery didn't self-limit to a safe charging level, and could overheat. The replacement cord had a limiter so the battery wouldn't get too hot, but really, that control should be in both the cord and the player itself. The Yoto Mini that's for sale now (labeled as 2024 version on the site) no longer has this problem.

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