A trend in European kids rooms and now available in the US: a speaker cube that even toddlers can operate, that looks nice, is very robust and doesn’t have a display. Choose a Tonie (a hand-painted figure), pop it on top of the Toniebox and wait for the story to play. It’s that simple. We’re providing insider information to tell you how it works and why your child will want one for Christmas. Here is a full tonies® Toniebox review.
We love the Toniebox It is a good compromise between music streaming options and a toy that even very little listeners can operate. It’s a toy that kids can enjoy for a long time. We wish the Toniebox had a few more features, given the price point but the quality is exceptional.
Toniebox inventors Patric Faßbender and Marcus Stahl, realized that while grownups have phones and computers to play music and podcasts nowadays, there still isn’t a good replacement for the cassette player that kids growing up in the in the 70s to 90s had. Kids then were able to operate everything themselves. Today, most options for kids involve screen time and even then little kids often cannot do it independently. The Toniebox solves this problem.
What is a Toniebox?
Similarly to a stereo system or a CD player you need a playback device. In this case it’s the Toniebox.
The Toniebox is available in six colors. You can buy the Toniebox as a “Starter Set”. Each Starter Set includes one Creative Tonie and one Content Tonie.
We will talk about the Tonies later in our review. The Toniebox is the most important feature itself because it is the playback device and also stores the songs and stories.
We will break down how to use and operate the Toniebox. Below are the key facts.
Key Toniebox Facts
- The Toniebox is available in six cheerful colors. The design is major plus. The Toniebox is very child-friendly but not childish looking.
- It is designed as a soft cube that stores files and plays them.
- The Toniebox is battery-operated and comes with a charging station. It can play music for about 7 hours and is therefore suitable to take on an overnight trip or vacation. The battery is fully recharged in about 3 hours.
- The Toniebox connects with the cloud via WiFi but after the initial download, the stories are available to listen to anytime and anyplace. More about that further below.
- It is light, robust and shatter-proof. No worries if it falls on the ground or is being thrown.
- The toniebox is ridiculously simple to use. Pinch an ear to turn it on, pop a Tonie on and start listening.
- The Toniebox does not have a display – say yes to no additional screen time :-).
How do I use Tonies?
In addition to the Toniebox you need Tonies – the figures that make playing songs, stories or other audio content possible. Pop a Tonie on top of the Toniebox and wait for the story to play.
Each Tonie contains an audio book or a collection of songs. It contains about 30 – 60 minutes of audio content.
In addition to “pre-loaded” Tonies, there are also so-called Creative Tonies. These Tonies can be filled with 90 minutes of whatever you like. For example you could record your kids favorite bed time story, songs or a message from grandma.
This could be great for families where mom or dad cannot be with their child all the time.
How do I set up the Toniebox?
Setting up the Toniebox is fast and easy.
Unpack the Toniebox and keep your computer, tablet or smartphone handy. It takes about 5-10 minutes to set up. The setup Assistent on the Tonies website guides you through the process. This is very simple, even for not so tech-savvy parents.
A few things you should know: In order to setup the Toniebox you absolutely need WiFi. For Creative Tonies you need to create a free login. Please consider this before purchasing. When you use a Tonie for the first time, the content is downloaded from the cloud onto your Toniebox. Once it’s downloaded you won’t need WiFi anymore. This is because the audio content is saved on your Toniebox. The audio content is not stored on the figures. The figures simply enable the Toniebox to play the content on the box. Think of them as a key. This works automatically when you pop a figure onto the Toniebox.
Awesome: You can connect the Toniebox with multiple WiFi networks. This is great for kids that often stay in multiple homes.
Done with installation? Let’s check out how to operate it.
How do I operate the Toniebox?
The Toniebox doesn’t have a display. The only controls are the two “ears”. The ears turn it on and regulate the volume.
- To turn it on, pinch an ear.
- Pop a figure on. The audio content will start playing automatically. The Tonies have are magnetic and therefore stay on top of the cube.
- To skip back and forth between chapters, tap the Toniebox on the side: left to skip ahead and right to skip back. If you want to rewind or fastforward within a chapter, tilt the cube to the side. This isn’t just convenient, it’s also fun.
- Once you remove the Tonie from the Toniebox, it stops playing. The Toniebox remembers where you left off though. If you pop it back on, it will continue playing where you left off.
- After 10 minutes of inactivity the Toniebox automatically turns off.
By the way, considering it’s a device for kids, the sound quality is top notch.
A small drawback is that some of the Tonies aren’t as magnetic as others. We had one that fell off easily when the Toniebox was carried around or tapped to fast forward. This is not quite ideal as it interrupts listening.
Using a Tonie on a Toniebox
How do I use Creative Tonies?
Creative Tonies are managed with your computer or smartphone. You can upload your own stories, song or other audio content. The Toniebox can play most popular music formats. When using a smartphone you can record directly onto the Creative Tonie and the Tonie doesn’t have to be directly next to you.
So when you’re on your next business trip, you could record new messages directly onto the Tonie and send it to your child.
You can have as many Creative Tonies as you like. They are available in many designs so that you can distinguish them.
Pros and Cons in Review
- Appealing design and excellent product quality
- Very easy to use with just 2 controls (ears) and gestures
- Portable – can be used on-the-go
- Head phone jack
- You can record your own content
- Very simple and fast setup
- Great sound quality
- Suitable even for toddlers
- Maximum volume is not too loud
- Individual Tonies are quite pricy
- Some Tonies fall off when carrying the Toniebox around or tapping it
- You need a computer, tablet or smartphone to setup and it requires WiFi
- Audio content is not stored on the figures but has to be downloaded from the cloud. This requires WiFi as well.
The Toniebox is a wonderful addition for your child’s playroom.
The Toniebox is flexible, interactive and gives even little children independence. It combines listening, playing and learning.
We definitely recommend it. Especially because our two testers – 2 years and 6 years – are absolutely obsessed with it. The only minus is that the Tonies are bit pricy.
The Toniebox is a fantastic present, is fun and above all child-friendly. It’s not cheap and because WiFi is required during setup and download, we deduct half a point. The Creative Tonies offer awesome flexibility. Thumbs up from us and a well-deserve purchase recommendation.
Installation is really fast and easy. The Tonies website guides your through the process. It only takes a few minutes. Go to https://my.tonies.com/setup-toniebox and follow the instructions.
The Toniebox turns off automatically after 10 minutes of inactivity. There is no other way to do it.
- Charging Station
- One Creative Tonie
- One Content Tonie
- Setup Instructions
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