Toniebox evaluation: Display screen-free leisure that’s music to children’ (and fogeys’) ears

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My biggest second with the Toniebox audio participant occurred once I wasn’t even listening to it. A part of the testing occurred throughout a seashore week with my brother’s household, and one night I went to seize a beverage in our rental home the place I noticed my 3.5-year-old daughter, 6-year-old nephew, and 7-year-old niece huddled on the ground completely engaged across the Toniebox. As any father or mother is aware of, screen-free leisure might be difficult to maintain. And screen-free leisure that works for a variety of ages is almost unattainable. However, at that second a minimum of, the Toniebox had pulled off the miraculous. 

In fact, the Toniebox is under no circumstances an ideal product when put underneath an grownup’s crucial eye (and ear). Its sound high quality is considerably tinny, and the whimsical Tonie collectible figurines which are key to the entire content material are certain to get misplaced, or stepped on. Nonetheless, my 3-year-old carried her music field round all week, subbing out the Elsa Tonie for the Lightning McQueen Tonie at a charge that undoubtedly annoyed her older, far more affected person cousins. My daughter even cried once we informed her she couldn’t carry the music participant to the precise seashore. After we finally received again residence and frolicked with pals within the neighborhood, she proudly introduced her Toniebox and declared it certainly one of her greatest toys ever.

What’s the Toniebox? 

Created in 2014 by fathers Patric Faßbender and Marcus Stahl, the Toniebox is a purposefully simplistic transportable speaker and storyteller that debuted internationally in 2016 earlier than arriving within the U.S. in 2020. Contemplating that the Toniebox is enriching, academic, entertaining, and engrossing—all with none incessant, disruptive blinking or blue gentle—it’s no shock that it was developed by dad and mom. 

The 4.7- x 4.7- x 4.7-inch dice is barely bigger than the outsized fuzzy cube you’ve seen hanging from rearview mirrors, and the colourful padded material makes the speaker really feel almost as comfortable. But this music participant for teenagers is shockproof, water resistant, and extremely sturdy—ours suffered no unwell results even after a number of drops by my daughter. 

As soon as it’s arrange, the Toniebox is simple to make use of. As an alternative of counting on outdated discs or a Bluetooth-connected telephone to feed it content material, the music and tales are downloaded by putting hand-painted Tonies characters atop the field. These characters put content material immediately into the field, letting you pay attention wirelessly—good for automotive journeys. Additionally good for automotive journeys, the Toniebox options an ordinary 3.5mm audio jack for headphones or earbuds. However these earphones can’t be wi-fi—the field affords no Bluetooth connection. 

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The $99.99 starter equipment we acquired [now discontinued and replaced by a Playtime Puppie Tonie set] features a Artistic-Tonie however no preloaded content material Tonie—I’ll get into the variations under. Our Toniebox was pink, however you may choose from a spectrum of six decisions, together with fireplace engine pink, sky blue, grass inexperienced, purple, and grey.

Organising the Toniebox

Utilizing the Toniebox is really easy even a 3-year-old can do it. I noticed proof. Setting it up, nevertheless, requires an grownup—or a minimum of somebody who is aware of how you can join a tool to WiFi. Start by downloading the MyTonies app to your Android or iOS good machine. You’ll need to create a free profile in your Toniebox on the app. Then maintain each triangular “ears” on the field for five seconds till the LED lights on prime of the music participant flash. The lights will blink for about 20 seconds. While you hear a chime, press “proceed” on the app. Choose your wi-fi community, sort in your password, and also you’re able to let your preschooler play deejay. Observe that the Toniebox is greatest arrange inside shut proximity to your router. My preliminary try from the opposite aspect of the seashore home failed, setting off a brief tantrum from my daughter.

The Tonie characters connect magnetically to the highest of the field, which they communicate to by means of a near-field communication chip. As soon as in place, they start enjoying instantly. Modify the quantity by urgent the ears and alter tracks by slapping the field on its left or proper aspect. Don’t be afraid to hit it laborious! Actually, you want a fairly strong strike to alter chapters. To quick ahead or rewind inside tracks, merely tilt the field left or proper. If you wish to hearken to one thing utterly totally different, swap out the Tonie on prime. As soon as you place a brand new determine on prime, the Tonie will at all times begin firstly of its preloaded content material. The temptation to swap these characters out repeatedly is actual. Actually, it was a number of days into our testing earlier than we truly performed any Tonies all through their content material.    

Key options of the Toniebox

Don’t anticipate the Toniebox to interchange a wi-fi speaker. For one factor, it doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity, so your content material is proscribed to what’s out there immediately from Toniebox. And whereas the audio is completely clear—and is very high quality when you and the children are belting the lyrics to “A part of Your World” on prime of the music—it may come throughout a contact comfortable, even with the quantity turned all the way in which up. It’s received a rated energy itemizing of 3W/5W, frequency vary of 180 to fifteen kHz, and common sound strain of 80 dB. What this implies is the Toniebox won’t ever obtain piercing, probably dangerous ranges. It additionally means audiophiles-in-training received’t crow concerning the sound high quality. However seeing how children don’t repeatedly ask to listen to that story about how a lot treble a speaker has, there’s only a lot to love concerning the Toniebox. Listed here are among the key options.

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Content material is king

Elsa Toniebox figurine
The Toniebox was such a success with our younger tester that she didn’t need to let it go. Andrew Waite

The Disney princesses and cartoon collectible figurines that go on prime of the Toniebox are what give the children’ music participant its character. The hand-painted Tonies come preloaded with anyplace from quarter-hour to roughly an hour of content material, providing a mixture of songs, tales, and video games. We beloved singing “Let it Go” with Elsa and listening as Peppa Pig’s household went snowboarding—although when the three children have been listening without delay, arguments about which Tonie ought to go on prime subsequent inevitably ensued. That made for excellent classes in sharing on prime of the teachings of self-confidence and problem-solving the songs and tales imparted.

Toniebox presently companions with Disney, Pixar, Common Music Group, Scholastic, and Macmillan Kids’s Books to supply characters and content material that youngsters will discover acquainted. Greater than 30 Tonies—from Winnie the Pooh to Woody to Stick Man—promote individually for $14.99 (about what I used to pay for DVDs, and I wasn’t at all times as captivated with them as the children and their tales). Dropping the Tonies, nevertheless, is an even bigger threat. Not like an earthly CD or Blu-ray disc that at worst will get pushed to the again of a shelf, the Tonies are virtually begging to be performed with. My 3.5-year-old pushed Lightning McQueen round as if he have been a Hotwheels automotive—and Hotwheels vehicles appear to at all times discover their approach underneath the sofa. And misplacing Tonies is a matter as a result of with out them the content material goes away.

Every Toniebox additionally comes with a Artistic-Tonie that lets you document 90 minutes of content material. While you’re performed recording by way of the app or a pc, maintain down one of many Toniebox’s ears for 3 seconds to sync the file. Moments later, you may hear your self singing in the identical approach you had simply been listening to Ariel or Aladdin. We recorded somewhat “Glad Birthday” and in addition made up a narrative a couple of turtle who didn’t know how you can swim. 

When storytime and playtime are performed, you should use the Sleepy Time Tonies to play calming music for teenagers, white noise, or nature sounds for nap time.

Rolls with the punches

Designed in Germany and made in China, the shockproof speaker appears almost indestructible. The textured material is stitched round squishy foam that makes this transportable music participant really feel nearer to certainly one of your children’ cool toys. I rolled the music participant throughout the wood ground, dropped it whereas standing, and let it tumble down the slide. Nonetheless, the beat went on. I even drew on it with a felt tip pen and simply washed the mark off with a flick of my finger and a fast wipe. 

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Loads of playtime

The Toniebox comes with a wall charger that permits the music participant to simply nest on prime. Toniebox payments as much as 7 hours of playtime, however we received an orange LED gentle—signaling low battery energy—a number of hours in. Granted, we had the music participant on full blast and switched Tonies in all probability greater than advisable. On the charger, the Toniebox is again to full energy in about 3 hours. 

So, who can buy the Toniebox? 

toniebox with packaging
The Toniebox, effectively, field. Andrew Waite

On this age of extreme screens, by some means audio content material is on the rise. Podcasts are attracting extra promoting {dollars}, and smartphones have given new life to audiobooks. Maybe it’s proof that nothing fairly replaces the timeless storytelling and singing that originated round prehistoric campfires. The Toniebox delivers a few of that timeless leisure in a enjoyable and fascinating approach due to its colourful material and painted by hand characters. That’s why dad and mom who want to maintain their preschool- by means of elementary school-aged children engaged with out counting on screens ought to contemplate shopping for the Toniebox. 

The colourful Tonies that go on prime are sufficient to encourage children to need to use the music participant and the loaded content material that comes with these characters—most of whom your children will already know—is sufficient to maintain them coming again. You may sit up for answering the query, “Is there such a factor as too many ‘Let it Go’ or ‘Beneath the Sea’ singalongs?” 

Mother and father with older children could contemplate the $99 Yoto Participant, which options content material playing cards as a substitute of characters and has extra publishing home partnerships, which means it affords extra mature titles like “The Secret Backyard.” And fogeys who need much more tales upfront could contemplate the Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller, which incorporates 48 built-in adventures with extra out there for obtain—although most tales are lesser-known. In the meantime, dad and mom who would slightly their little one have the ability to hearken to something that may play on a smartphone can forgo devoted music gamers for a Bluetooth speaker. The waterproof and dustproof UE Wonderboom 3 could also be an excellent choice for teenagers. 
However when you’re searching for a screen-free storytelling machine that the children will truly play with, the Toniebox audio participant could also be the perfect transportable music participant for teenagers. These cool toys can have them singing and have you ever singing its praises.