As any parent knows, there are only so many times you can listen to your child's favorite song on repeat before you want to pull your hair out and stuff it in your ears ... and listening to The Wheels on the Bus on your highly specced hi-fi can feel like overkill, can't it? Well the hörbert – a wooden MP3 player aimed at kids – promises to give you your stereo back.
The portable device from German manufacturer WINZKI GmbH & Co. KG – which has more in common with the walnut-shelled Colorfly Pocket Hi-Fi C4 pro we saw last year than a Fisher Price record player – is a fully functional MP3 player which can be used to store your little one's music or audio books, and is designed for them to operate.
The stylish wooden chassis – the designers are clearly going for the design-conscious audiophile kiddie market – houses a portable MP3 player and built-in loudspeaker, along with an SD memory card which comes holding 140 minutes of music and audio books. It is powered by four AA batteries which are said to last for up to 45 hours of playback at an average volume.
Designed with little fingers in mind, playlists can be selected by nine brightly colored buttons on the front of the hörbert – pressing the same button repeatedly advances playback to the next tracks linked to that button. There are also two buttons which allow for fast forward and jumping back. At the top of the unit is a metal on/off switch, volume knob and a beechwood handle for carrying.
The sturdy build is said to keep vibrations or shaking from impacting playback ... you know, should it take the occasional knock as children dance around it. The speaker also delivers a full sound which is a good thing, as the designers intentionally omitted a headphone jack, worrying that children might not be able to hear and interact with their parents.
The makers say they decided on a wooden finish because many parents like the long-lasting and warm-to-the-touch feel. The child-friendly design also sees the colored buttons made from phthalate-free ABS plastics, plus the box has a sweat- and saliva-proof soft wax coating. The metals used are stainless and the speaker grill is made of anodized aluminum.
Using software (Windows and Mac) which comes with the player, parents can load files onto the SD card and select which tracks will be available in what order on each of hörbert's colored buttons. The SD card is housed within the unit and accessed by unscrewing a flush-mounted screw that can be opened with the help of a coin.
Weighing 950 grams (33.5 oz), the hörbert sells for €239.00 (about US$314), and is light enough that children can carry it around with them and put it away easily.