Toniebox Audio Storyteller Review

Screen free entertainment

Toniebox

Kids love listening to stories. There is nothing better than bedtime storytime or, as the kids start to get older, snuggling up on the couch and reading a book together. There are plenty of ways to make reading and storytime accessible, fun and very entertaining as you can use paper books, e-books and even audiobooks. For younger children the audiobook may be the way to go as they can be in control of stories that they want to listen to whenever they want. And for that reason, we have been trying out the Toniebox, a speaker for children that plays stories.

The Toniebox is, at its heart, a child-friendly square speaker available in several bright colours. Its function is to play stories to children. That might not seem overly impressive as there are several of these type of audio storytellers on the market, but the Toniebox delivers its stories in a rather unique fun and funky way, a way that most definitely appeals to children – it uses the placement of a figure (called a Tonie) on top on the box to download and tell the story you have purchased. A fun visual and interactive way for children to start to get involved with storytime.

For review, we received the Toniebox Starter Set along with a few extra Tonies and it really has gone down very well. Kids love figures so straightaway the sight of the different Tonies fascinated the kids, wanting to know what they did. The Toniebox is available in several different colour options so that you can make it more personal to your child and we received ours in pink (a very good choice for our listener of stories).

In the box for the Starter Set is:

  • the Toniebox
  • charging station with UK plug
  • a Creative-Tonie,
  • easy to understand instruction manual

Toniebox Specifications

  • Up to 7 hours battery life
  • 8GB internal memory with intelligent memory management
  • Data transmission via Wi-Fi module, configuration of the sound box via browser
  • Up to six Wi-Fi connections possible
  • Motion sensor operated that reacts to touch and movement; Volume control on the ears of the Toniebox
  • Saves energy through intelligent energy management and use of LED light
  • Sewn from sustainable fabric, water-repellent and robust charging station and headphone jack
  • Available in red, green, light blue, purple, pink and grey
  • Dimensions: 4.7” x 4.7” x 4.7”
  • Weight approx. 21oz (595g)

Out of the box we were actually quite surprised with the Toniebox. We already knew that it was a storytelling speaker and expected a hard plastic shell, but actually the Toniebox is a lot softer (and snuggly) with its slightly cushioned water repellent padding. Kids drop everything, so this was a nice surprise as it protects it a lot more.

There is some initial setup on first use to pair it to your wifi network so that you are able to download the stories – there is a simple video to watch to talk you through this. We had problems connecting the Toniebox to our wifi network using a laptop, which was frustrating, but using the free downloadable app on a phone it connected first time, quickly with no issues.

The Toniebox comes with a docking station to charge it. We put the Toniebox on to it and let it charge fully. Depending on volume level, you can get up to 7 hours of playback from a fully charged battery, enough for most car or train journeys.

One of the things that we (adults) like most about the Toniebox is that it is completely SCREEN FREE and can, unlike teenagers, be used without the need for a constant wifi connection (wifi is needed initially to download the story using your Tonie character). There are not even any complicated buttons to press.

Using the Toniebox is very simple and straightforward, for children and adults. Place the Tonie character on top of the Toniebox (a magnet will pull it and hold it in place) and the story or music will automatically start playing. The Toniebox has two ears on top, these are to control the volume up and down. Just give the small ear a bit of a pinch to turn the volume down or do the same on the big ear to turn the volume up (parents/carers can set a maximum volume level should they wish through the app). In can even be used with a pair of headphones should you not want to hear the stories whilst the kids are listening (wired headphones only as there is no Bluetooth connection so far, headphones are not supplied). If you tilt the Toniebox to the left or the right, you can rewind or fastforward through the story or music tracks, alternatively to skip chapters or tracks just tap the left or right sides. Very simple to control. Once you have finished listening, just remove the Tonie character and playback will stop (once placed back on again the story will start from the same place).

Whilst, as adults, we do love the fact that this is screen free entertainment, it is the Tonies that really do make this stand out and really appeal to the children. The Tonies are each full of music or stories and are all hand painted, sturdy figures that can even be played with.

Tonies Specifications

  • Built-in NFC chip that communicates with the Toniebox
  • Tonies are 2 to 3 inches in size and magnetically attach to the Toniebox
  • Hand painted and sturdy
  • Many Tonies are available with existing content from renowned publishers
  • In addition, there are Creative-Tonies that can be recorded with your own content of up to 90 minutes
  • Free Tonies app for iOS and Android for easy recording of the Creative-Tonies
  • Around 150 Tonies and Creative-Tonies in the selection

There are plenty of Tonies to choose from including Disney, Paw Patrol, Peter Rabbit, Julia Donaldson, Trolls, In the Night Garden as well as generic characters from classic tales and music and a whole host more (you can see the range here). Tonies sell for £14.99, whilst the Creative-Tonies are £11.99.

The Toniebox is portable with a battery life of up to 7 hours and no wifi is needed as long as you download your Tonies first. The sound from the Toniebox is very clear and the stories are told very well, some by some famous names including Imelda Staunton, Tim Curry and Benedict Cumberbatch.

There are a large range of Tonies covering education, music and stories including Fun With Spot, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Famous Five.

As well as a large variety of pre-loaded Tonies, you can also get Creative Tonies, basically a blank Tonie that you can record your own stories, music or voice on to. These allow you to record up to 90 minutes of your own content using the app. This is great for if you wanted your children listening to you telling them a bedtime story when you can’t be there.

Overall, we love the Toniebox and the Tonie characters. The box is very easy to use, even for the youngest of listeners. Rather than being a hard plastic box it is actually a soft padded box that can actually be snuggled whilst listening to. Downloading content is as easy as placing a Tonie character on top.

The Toniebox is a great piece of screen free technology, and the kids can use it as much as they want to as there is no screen time to manage and they can actually learn from it depending on what they are listening to at the time.

The Tonies are an excellent child-friendly and unique way to get the content to download and play and they also look great.

The price of an individual Tonie at £14.99 (some are cheaper) does seem a bit on the expensive side, but when you actually think about it, the hand painted figures are a very efficient way to get children to be in control of their stories and actual pick them up to use, they are also very portable and even playable making them good value for money (we are going to buy a carry case to protect ours).

We think that the Toniebox is excellent for bedtime stories, listening to music and even learning from. That you can record your own bedtime stories in your own voice is also an excellent idea.

With a variety of different stories covering a range of interests it will cover a range of age groups and last for years.

We think that the Toniebox is a very good quality story box with excellent sound. Using the Tonie characters is the perfect delivery system for keeping the kids interested and downloading content – a simple and secure way without the need for a screen.

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £69.95 (Toniebox Starter Set) / £14.99 (Pre-loaded content Tonies)

For more information or to buy, visit tonies.com. Also available to buy from Amazon here.

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