There have been many screen-free audio players for kids that have popped up on the market lately. They remind me of the days of boomboxes and CD players. As a newer player to the field, the Yoto player has made some big splashes since their Kickstarter launch. Let’s take a look at everything a Yoto player has to offer.
The Yoto Player and all products shown in this review were purchased by us. All opinions are our own. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
How does a Yoto player work?
The concept of a kid’s audio player is actually not new. With different options like the Tonie box and Lunii, the Yoto player is a screen-free speaker that plays audio files using either Yoto cards or the Yoto phone app.
Modern kid’s audio players are very similar to something the previous generation is familiar with – CD players.
And the Yoto player works in a very similar fashion. CDs have been replaced with Yoto cards and buttons have been simplified into a child-friendly version.
After a few months of owning a Yoto, I’ve had some time to review its features, battery life, the Yoto app, and even had some interaction with the Yoto support about some issues I’d been having.
Let’s take an in-depth view of everything Yoto has to offer.
What age is Yoto best for?
While the Yoto player appears to be primarily marketed towards children ages 3-12, we’ve actually loved using our Yoto at all ages.
The Yoto can act as the perfect sound machine for infants using either the content from the night radio (white noise) or through some of the cards (our favourite is the crackling fire).
As an adult, I’ve also created music cards from old CD albums or played audiobooks on my Yoto just because I love how easy it is to access my content.
What comes with a Yoto player?
The first thing that popped out to me when I received my Yoto was all of the environmentally friendly packaging. There wasn’t any plastic in sight. Both the Yoto player and all of the cards that I ordered in my first order came in recyclable cardboard.
Inside the Yoto box was the Yoto, a circular magnetic charger, a Welcome card (your first audio card that you can put in the machine) in a paper card sleeve, and a quick start booklet.
I love that the player came with a welcome card that introduces you to Yoto. What some people might not know is that this welcome card can also be used as your first Make Your Own (MYO) card.
The paper sleeve that the card comes with has an adhesive backing that you can stick to your child’s bed, toy shelf, etc.
The Yoto was built with children’s capabilities in mind. Everything from the screen, the buttons, and the portability to the audio content has been created to suit children’s small hands and attention spans.
The first thing you’ll notice is the square screen. This is where it will display pixelated pictures and the time.
By default, if your Yoto is on, it will show the time and auto change from a day scenery to night depending on the time.
If it is not on the charger, the Yoto will go to sleep and nothing will show on the screen after a while.
The pixel screen shows some really fun icons when you put in Yoto cards. (E.g. The Gruffalo will have a Gruffalo icon.) You can also customize icons for any make-your-own cards.
The Yoto player is very intuitive to use. It has three buttons in total:
- The left button goes “back” a chapter when you press it down and turning the dial adjusts the volume.
- Turning the right button will scroll through chapters and pressing it down confirms the selection. Press the right button twice and it will play the Yoto daily news (where you hear the daily birthdays) and you can access the Yoto radio/sleep radio depending on the time of day.
- The button on the bottom of the Yoto turns it on and off.
The Yoto player has really good battery life. Off of the charger, it lasted an entire day with audio playing and many days with occasional audio playing.
Through the Yoto app you can adjust the energy-saving mode to help with the battery life.
Yoto Night light
A really cool feature about the Yoto is that there is an LED strip that goes along the edge of the backside. This lights up and can be adjusted via the Yoto app to different colours.
The Yoto player also recognizes when to turn on the nightlight automatically when you turn the led side face up.
Yoto Offline Mode
One of the neat things about the Yoto is that it can be played without Wi-fi.
The key thing you remember for this feature is that you need to allow your Yoto enough time to download the card remotely before taking your Yoto on offline adventures. You can do this by leaving the card in the Yoto and letting the audio files play. Your Yoto will automatically download the files to the Yoto.
The Yoto will NOT work offline for playlists that are linked to an online link such as podcasts or radio stations. (Podcasts will work if you’ve created the card with mp3s and not a direct url link to a podcast.)
The Yoto has built-in Bluetooth capabilities in order to be used as a speaker.
This means you can use it to play Spotify or other audio streaming services off your phone.
It does not have Bluetooth compatibility right now to be used with wireless headphones. But you could easily adapt it to do so using a Bluetooth adapter.
Yoto Card Slot
You’ll notice prominently at the top of the Yoto a slot that is for the audio cards.
The cards are sturdy and are similar to employee cards you would find at a workplace.
The cards use NFC technology which allows you to add new cards to your Yoto App by tapping it with your NFC compatible phone.
Cards that are inserted into the Yoto can be played offline later once the content has had enough time to download (just leave the card in the card slot for a while). This is great for car rides!
Yoto continues to release new accessories for the Yoto.
Currently, the following are available:
- Card portfolio case
- Screen protector
- Adventure Jacket (Yoto holder/sleeve)
- Extra dock with country compatible power adapters
- Magnets for card sleeves
Here are my favourite third-party accessories:
- Yoto case
- Bluetooth headphones
- Display tabs to make a ring of cards (put these on your cards and then the cards on a keyring)
How durable is the Yoto player?
We find the Yoto player is as durable as any other electronic you would purchase that is meant for kids. It is prone to breaking apart if dropped from large heights but sturdy enough that being knocked over a few times won’t cause massive damage.
Our Yoto player has survived drops from our toddler and from occasionally being knocked over by pets and other children.
For the most part, our Yoto player doesn’t move much from the dock which is part of the reason why it’s survived the way it has. I highly recommend purchasing the Adventure Jacket if you plan on letting your children move the Yoto around regularly to protect it from damage.
Setting up the Yoto (Yoto app)
The instructions are included in the quick start guide or on the Yoto official website but the basic gist of it is that you:
- Download the Yoto App to your phone
- Turn on your Yoto player (press the bottom button for about 3 seconds until you see the Yoto face light up)
- Select “Set Up Yoto player” on your app
- Make sure there is no card in the Yoto player
- Press and hold both orange buttons until you see a six-letter code
- Enter the code in the app
- Your phone will try and find a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to and then finish the rest of the set-up
- Your Yoto Player will restart and then show the time and day/night scenery
Now you are ready to put in your first audio card (the welcome card that came with your Yoto) or any other audio card you may have purchased in your initial order.
It will take a little bit after you’ve inserted the card into your Yoto but you will notice that the card will appear in your Yoto App.
This means you can now play it from the Yoto App to your Yoto player without the card. You can also link this content to a Make Your Own card later if you ever lose the original card.
Yoto Set-up Troubleshooting
I personally had issues initially setting up my Yoto. So how do you get your Yoto player online?
I got to the six-letter code in the app, entered it, and got an error. It couldn’t find my Wi-Fi hotspot and continuously failed to connect.
I tried resetting the Yoto and deleting and reinstalling the Yoto app. None of this worked for me.
What finally did work was using another phone (in my case, my husband’s) to set it up.
I have no idea why it worked on my husband’s phone and not mine (we both have Android phones), but once it was set up on my husband’s phone, I was able to access it on my phone and do everything through the Yoto app.
So yea, it’s not ideal but if you’re having trouble setting it up, try doing it on a different phone. You can always delete the app on that phone after the initial setup.
How to Update Your Yoto Player
The Yoto Player regularly updates automatically when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
If an update fails, you can always check your Yoto OS version by following these steps:
- Open the Yoto app
- Go to the “Players” tab on the bottom
- Go to the “Settings” on the Yoto (right gear icon next to the Yoto player listed)
- Scroll down to the bottom
- Look for “Yoto OS Version“
Now that your player is set-up, let’s go over all of the content Yoto has to offer.
Yoto has a lot of free content that don’t even require a Yoto (just play through the app on your phone). These include:
- Yoto Daily: A podcast-style channel that includes a random mix of jokes, simon says, facts and where they do a daily birthday shoutout. You can fill out the form before your child’s birthday to get a shoutout.
- Yoto Radio: Available 24/7, Yoto radio is a free radio that plays a wide range of child-safe music. You’ll hear everything from classic Disney music to current pop songs. You can find a list of recently played songs here.
- Sleep Radio: During the night, if you double-tap your Yoto to access the radio, you’ll instead find the sleep radio. This is a series of calming bedtime content. On the Yoto App, there is also background noise you can play for your child. You can find the list of the last 10 tracks played on the sleep radio here.
- Yoto Sampler Content: Every month in the Yoto App there is sample content which usually includes a few songs or chapters of a book. This is a great way to try out a card with your children before committing to buying the entire card.
- Podcasts: Also available in the app is a list of podcasts. Just select one from the Yoto app to play it on your Yoto. You can also link these to Make Your own cards.
In terms of paid content, Yoto has tons of different cards that include songs, stories, sound cards, phonics cards, etc. I’ve also compiled a list below of all of the places you can purchase Yoto products.
Here is a list of favourites in our house (note that my daughter is 3 years old):
- Mrs. H Sings
- Crackling Fire (she wanted this at bedtime)
- Anything from Julia Donaldson
- My First 100 Words (I would catch her listening and repeating the words)
- Make Your Own cards: Peppa Pig Songs, Wiggles Songs, a card with me reading some of her favourite stories
Another cool way you can get new audio content is through the Yoto club.
The Yoto club is a subscription service that sends a few cards (usually 2-3) each month of content that has yet to be released to the Yoto store. They also send 2 activities, a postcard, a calendar, and a monthly art project.
You can select between two age groups (an “older kids” and “younger kids” group).
One of the best parts about the membership is it offers an additional 10% discount on everything in the Yoto store and you also receive a nice welcome package when you first join the club that includes a sticker sheet and two make your own cards.
The Yoto club is only available in the UK and US at the moment but I can’t wait to see it in Canada!
What is Yoto daily?
Yoto daily is a free mini kids podcast that is created and run by Yoto. It is accessible on your Yoto player by default by pressing the right orange dial down.
Yoto daily is where you will find the birthday shoutouts as well as jokes and other bits told by the main caster, Jake.
You can find more information on Yoto daily on the Yoto website.
Yoto Cons: What can be improved
Here are some of the things I thought could be improved.
- No bluetooth support: As I mentioned above, the Yoto player can be used as a bluetooth speaker but doesn’t currently work with bluetooth headphones. You can work around this using a bluetooth adapter.
- Yoto needs to be turned on frequently: If the Yoto isn’t on the charging dock and it goes to sleep, you have to power it back on to use again. This can be frustrating for little kids who can’t turn on the Yoto by themselves. You can turn this off (warning: it will drain your battery quickly) but going to your Yoto app > Settings > Battery Saver > adjust the time setting or turn it off completely.
- The clock needs Wi-Fi: We were hoping to use the Yoto as a bedside clock on a camping trip but the clock does not work offline.
- No way to pause the Yoto player: The only way to pause the Yoto player is through the phone app. There is no way to pause audio otherwise except to pull the card out of the Yoto player itself.
- No clock alarm: It would be wonderful if the Yoto had a built-in alarm that you could set to wake up the kids in the morning.
Yoto Player vs Toniebox: What should I buy?
When trying to decide which audio player to buy, I compared the Yoto player and Toniebox in-depth. Here are the conclusions I came up with.
The Yoto player is good for all ages whereas the Toniebox is better for younger kids. Children like to play with the figurines (aka Tonies) which can be good or bad for some parents. Good, because they are more easily engaged with the Toniebox and take to it easier. Bad, because it can be distracting and cause them to only play with the figurines.
The Toniebox is more durable. The Toniebox feels more squishy and feels more durable. Yoto has also recently come out with Adventure jackets and screen protectors to help with their durability.
In terms of long-term cost, the Yoto player is more affordable. The Yoto cards are cheaper to purchase in the long run which allows you to get more content for your money.
Best places to buy a Yoto Player
Looking for the best price for the Yoto Player?
I’ve scoured the internet to find all of the places you can purchase the Yoto player and cards. If you know of a place to purchase them that isn’t listed, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!
My personal preference is to buy direct from Yoto because you also get Yoto tokens with every purchase. You can claim the Yoto tokens for things like free shipping or money off a future order.
Other Yoto Troubleshooting
Why isn’t my card working in offline mode?
Your Yoto likely hasn’t had enough time to download the audio files.
Put the card back in your Yoto and leave it in there for a while so the Yoto can download the files. You should always test what your Yoto can play by turning off your Wi-Fi before taking your Yoto on offline trips.
How do I stop my Yoto from turning off?
Your Yoto has built-in energy-saving modes and will turn off after some time of inactivity when removed from the dock.
You can adjust these settings by going to the Yoto app and adjusting the time in Settings > Auto Power-Off.