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My Toniebox review…are Tonieboxes worth it?
Today I am sharing a product review, which I don’t do too often! I almost never take sponsored product reviews because I feel super invested when I buy something with my own money. I’m not saying that people lie on sponsored reviews…but I am saying that I have zero problems being hyper critical of products when it was my money that bought them 🙂
So today we’re talking about the Toniebox, a product I had admittedly never heard of until visiting one of my best friends. Her girls each had a Toniebox, and my daughter thought they were the coolest things!
I loved that the girls got to play with them after screen time was over before bed. They could listen to songs and stories together featuring all of their favorite cartoon characters.
But is a Toniebox worth it?
I’ll cut to the chase and say yes—I do think the Toniebox is worth it if you buy in a bundle or catch them on a good sale. Don’t pay full price…wait for a good sale. But there are lots of things that influenced this that I want to talk about in this post.
What exactly is a Toniebox?
Toniebox markets their product as “an imagination-building, screen-free digital listening experience that plays stories, songs, and more.” It’s a relatively small cube—4.7 inches—that is covered in a nice foam child-proof cover (six colors available).
It has speakers and two little cat-like ears. And each “Tonie” is a different character you’re probably familiar with—Disney princesses, Cat in the Hat, Paw Patrol, etc. There are a bunch of them.
When a child puts a Tonie on top of the Toniebox, it begins playing the songs or stories. The child can pinch the right ear to raise the volume and the left ear to lower it.
Parents can control max volume in the Toniebox app, as well as a few other things about the listening experience. Oh—and there is a headphone jack. Perfect for car rides when you don’t want to hand over your phone for a game.
To move forward to a different song or story in a Tonie’s sequence, you just tap the sides of the cube. They can also silt the cube to fast-forward or rewind, but I haven’t taught my daughter that yet.
When kids are done with a Tonie, they simply take it off and the music or story stops. They can then pop another Tonie on to start another sequence. (Tonies will only pick back up where they left off if no new Tonie is placed on the box.)
What age is a Toniebox for?
The Toniebox experience is designed for kids 3 and up. My daughter got hers for her 5th birthday, and I definitely would have gotten it sooner had I known about it! It’s really easy to use. As long as kids like the character’s songs and stories, they’ll like the Toniebox.
How long does a Toniebox play for?
The run time for each Tonie depends on the character. Tracks can range anywhere from 16 to 50 minutes according to the company.
Disney Tonies average about 22 minutes each, while musical content ranges from 40 to 50 minutes. When you buy a Tonie, the page will include the track list, a run time, and a description of what the content is supposed to teach. If your Toniebox is fully charged, it has a battery life of about seven hours.
What is the difference between Tonie and creative Tonie?
A really cool feature Toniebox has is a “creative Tonie.” While Tonies come pre-programmed with songs and stories, creative Tonies have space for up to 90 minutes of custom content. You can record and upload favorite stories, songs, or messages.
You can also send recordings to the creative Tonie using the app no matter where you are. So if you’re in California and your child is in Maryland with their Toniebox, you can add a recording via the app.
Creative Tonies do have some restrictions, though. They are restricted to certain file types, and a lot of files—such as audiobooks purchased from the iTunes store—can have digital copy protection on them that prevent the files from being read on Toniebox.
Toniebox also cannot support streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime Music, Audible, Deezer, and Google Play Music. That’s because the content is in an encrypted format that cannot be processed by the Toniebox.
Can you put your own music on Tonies?
If you have a piece of audio that you own, and that audio file is a compatible file type, you can add it to your creative Tonie. Generally the creative Tonies are used for personal recordings, story readings, and messages though.
Here’s an unethical life pro tip for you, though. You can really add any compatible audio file…so if you were to, say, know how to extract audio from YouTube videos of people reading stories or songs you like…you could *theoretically* add those. Don’t ask me how I know. 🙂
Like my Toniebox review? You might like my Colorable Cardboard Playhouse Review!
How much do Tonies cost?
The individual Tonies are about $15 each, which is very reasonable. I bought my daughter a bundle with the box and a few Tonies, and then my mom and brother each got her an additional Tonie for her birthday.
That gave her a great lineup to play with, but it certainly does add up if you’re buying it all on your own. And that brings me to my first complaint about the Toniebox…
How much does a Toniebox cost?
…and that’s the cost of the actual Toniebox. It’s steep! The Toniebox is $100 when it isn’t on sale, and that comes with one starter “playtime puppy” Tonie. See the image below for the songs playtime puppy plays.
The technology is not that advanced, so $100 seems kinda steep and is a low point in this Toniebox review post. I ended up getting my daughter a bundle set with the Toniebox, playtime puppy, and three additional Tonies for $130. So that’s essentially one Tonie for free if you do that bundle.
The price tag still hurt, though. Definitely a special occasion gift like a birthday or Christmas. And even then, it takes up a pretty big portion of the gift budget! I was confident my child would like hers though since she’d been exposed to one and loved it.
Does the Toniebox come with books?
No, the Toniebox does not currently come with books. That is another complaint I have and a negative for my Toniebox review. I think it would be a really awesome way for them to expand—maybe have different Tonies that can also read books with early readers.
Can I use my Toniebox without WiFi?
Yes! It took me a while to figure this one out. Toniebox requires WiFi during the setup process and to download and set up new Tonie content. So when you get a new Tonie, you put it on the box.
The light under the Tonie will blink blue for a while…sometimes a long while. This is the Toniebox downloading all of the content from the Tonie, and it needs WiFi to do this.
Once that blinking blue light turns green, you can remove the Tonie. All of the content is downloaded. And as long as the Toniebox is charged up, you can use it safely anywhere without power or WiFi!
A few complaints about the Toniebox set up process
In addition to my minor complaints about the price and the lack of companion books, I have to share that our setup process was an absolute nightmare! I was seriously ready to throw this thing out the window.
We could not figure out what the problem was. Our Toniebox just kept saying, “Uh oh! Search code hedgehog to find out what the error is.” It kept saying it couldn’t connect to the Internet, and we couldn’t figure out why.
After a lot of frustration, my husband remembered that he encountered a similar error setting something up a few years ago. The issue ended up being that we have 5GHz Internet, and Toniebox REQUIRES 2.4GHz WiFi to connect.
Most people seem to have an option for both, but we don’t. We have only 5GHz WiFi. 5GHz WiFi is a newer type of Internet that allows for faster speeds, and Toniebox can’t connect to it. This really frustrated me for how expensive this device was.
While the box says this clearly…I did not know what kind of Internet we had! So I thought I was going to have to take it to my mom’s or something to set up, but my husband suggested using his phone’s WIFI hotspot.
And that worked! We just had to set up the hotspot and connect the Toniebox to it for the set up process and for downloading all of the Tonie content. So keep that in mind and don’t rip your hair out trying to figure out the stupid hedgehog error.
Also something to keep in mind if you have 5GHz WiFi is that TonieBox also cannot connect to open networks (like those that do not require a password) or Captive Portal WiFi networks, like those found in coffee shops, schools, libraries.
How to turn off a Toniebox
And another source of frustration that wasn’t immediately clear to me—there is no way to manually turn off your Toniebox. If a Tonie’s sequence is finished or if a Tonie is removed from the Toniebox, it will automatically shut off after 10 minutes. 🙂
Toniebox vs. YOTO
Before I bought the Toniebox, I did do a bit of Googling to see if there were any alternatives. I came across a lot of comparisons between the Toniebox and the YOTO player. Which is best? Here’s what I gathered in a nutshell.
In general, they are very comparable—both in functionality, price point, and experience. The differences seem to be in what age the devices are best for.
Toniebox is generally geared toward younger kids, where YOTO player is geared toward somewhat older kids. While younger kids can use it, their website says it can be for kids upwards of 12. So there is obviously a wider variety of content.
I opted for the Toniebox because we had personal experience with one, so I knew my daughter would love it. Check out some thorough reviews of the YOTO player though—especially if your kid is on the older end and is a more advanced reader.
I hope you found my Toniebox review helpful! We love it–aside from the price and the setup struggles, it’s a cool, versatile toy. I recommend it!