Finding a wireless speaker isn’t difficult, but finding one your kids can use? That’s a little harder. And then there’s the Birde speaker, which even your little ones can handle. Seriously.
Every parent will end up handing over a phone or a tablet to their kids at one point, but what if you could let your little ones play DJ with their own easy to use speaker? The Australian Birde speaker is a gadget that can do that, providing not just music and books to kids, but also a smidgen of independence, as well.
What is it?
It seems like every company makes a speaker, and that is sure close to true. We’re always writing about them, and many offer a similar approach to delivering that sound.
They’re almost always cylindrical or a flat circle, but sometimes available in squares, cubes, and rectangular prisms. They’re often water resistant with obvious controls, and handle sound over the wireless magic of Bluetooth, requiring a phone, tablet, or computer to control them.
Fortunately, we’re all have at least one of those these days, and if we’re playing music for people that don’t, typically leave something nearby. That goes for our kids, with a phone or tablet usually left next to the speaker to keep it going.
But what if you didn’t need that? What if you could have a speaker for the kids that they controlled, without needing to leave your phone or tablet nearby?
The Birde Media Player Speaker is built with that in mind, offering a way for your kids to play music and audiobooks, plus a little more, and they’ll get the hang of it faster than you might expect.
What does it do?
Unsurprisingly, the Birde Media Player Speaker is a media player that is also a speaker, but how it handles this is a little different from what you may expect.
Rather than send sound from your phone to the speaker over Bluetooth, you tap a disk to the side of the speaker, and it plays the content.
That means the content is more or less fixed, at least right now, with a set amount of content available. It comes from a variety of sources parents will be familiar with, such as The Wiggles, Playschool, and others including story books, and while the speaker is the obvious way the sound comes out, you can also connect the Birde speaker up with a TV, using the speaker as a bit of a TV controller.
Does it do the job?
An Australian invention, the Birde speaker is definitely interesting and a way to give your child some of that much-needed autonomy they keep screaming out for. Take it out, show them how to use it, and they’ll get the hang of it faster than you may expect.
For the parents, the Birde speaker works like this: you charge it up using the included wireless charge pad, power it on with the middle button, and then tap the Birde logo on the side with the discs you buy for it, which loads the content in a seemingly ordered-yet-slightly random way.
The disks are called “Seeds” (because it’s from a brand called “Birde”, get it?) and are super easy to use. Every time you tap one to the Birde logo, it lights up to the colour of the Seed, and then plays a track from it.
If that’s from The Wiggles, it might be Australia’s popular kids troupe performing an episode, while Storybots plays music. In essence, it’s a disc system not unlike a cassette or a CD, except handled solely from a tap, with no risk to the media at all.
Hands up if you’ve ever worried about how your little one might treat a CD or DVD? Birde does away with all of that, relying on cardboard discs with the information seemingly preloaded to the speaker, waiting for them to tell it what they want to play, and having it cue it practically immediately.
What does it need?
The Birde speaker is a surprisingly compelling concept, and one your child is sure to tweet all about. Ours was all manner of excited the moment she realised she could play sound, and when you tie it together with a Smart TV app, those Birde Seed discs can play video, too. When this happens, the sound will switch from the speaker to that of your TV, using your WiFi network to make that connection work.
It’s an intriguing idea that extends what the Birde speaker can do, but it’s one with limitations, because the app in question is only available for a handful of smart TV operating systems. If you have a recent LG or Samsung, you’re fine. If you rely on an Apple TV, Hisense, Xbox, or PlayStation, you’re likely out of luck, as the Birde app isn’t available there.
We also wish you could program your own discs, because right now, the content library is just a little more limited than we’d like.
While you get a decent little selection of Birde Seeds in the box, the store offers a few more, with audiobooks included in the mix.
Yet if your little one wants to listen to Disney, there’s no content agreement with Disney. If they want Frozen, you’ll need to chill, because it’s not there yet, either. And what if they want to listen to music, and you want to share your Spotify or Apple Music playlists to the Birde speaker? No such luck here, I’m afraid.
The Birde content library is very, very specific, and is just what Birde provides on its store, with no way of crafting your own Birde Seeds, at least not yet. We’re told it’s coming, but there’s no detail on this at the moment.
You can’t use your phone or tablet to send music to the Birde speaker, either, even though there is a Birde app. That’s not for music transfer, used instead to link the Birde up to your network and buy Birde Seed. Bizarrely, you can buy content from the store and send it to the Birde speaker using the app, just not your own music or stories.
The sound is a little on the flat and tinny side as well, but your kids aren’t likely to notice any difference. Let’s just say you can get better speakers out there, though none that work quite like the Birde.
Is it worth your money?
At $249, the Birde Interactive Media Player speaker isn’t necessarily cheap for what it is, though there’s also nothing really quite like it. You can find wireless speakers, but you can’t find wireless speakers with simple tap-and-play content libraries. Birde also makes a slightly different model that lacks wireless charging, opting for microUSB instead and with a smaller battery. That will save you a good $70 with it costing $179, though you get a smaller sample library, too.
At either cost, the Birde speaker is a little exy for a speaker, but it’s a little more than that, too. Rather, it’s focused on the kids, giving them some control of their content in a way that still has the potential to educate and entertain.
The joy on our little girl’s face as she jumped between singing the alphabet and playing the noise of a purring and sleeping kitten was immeasurable. It was far as if she had been given the control of the sound system in the home, and was going to wield it completely, dancing to the sounds only she controlled.
The Birde speaker is an intriguing idea, and if you have kids, worthy of being a fixture in your home. There are easily things Birde could add, such as those custom Birde Seed discs we’re looking for, but this is definitely a great start. Without doubt, the Birde speaker is a compelling concept for children.
Yay or nay?
Now all that’s left is to decide whether it’s worth it for your kids.
It’s definitely not something for adults, and you can spend far less on a Bluetooth speaker if you want better wireless sound with more control, but for kids, we can definitely see it.
Let’s paint the picture, shall we? You’re trying to keep your kids away from just using a phone or tablet, and want to keep them listening to music, singing, dancing, and having books read to them. If this sounds like you, the Birde speaker makes absolute sense, because you can let your children tap the disc they want to use and get listening.
Chances are, they’ll listen to the same three songs over and over again, but you won’t have to sacrifice your phone or music playlist to get them there, and they can keep being DJ without risking damage by dropping your phone, too.
If anything, it just gives your kids that ability to control their music and what they listen to, and while Birde still has things to do to make its system better, this is a seriously solid start to a cool idea.
We do think the price should be a little lower for what you get, and right now, it feels as though you’re paying for the initial idea, even if content is lacking. There is more content coming, but at the moment, it seems a touch limited. Given the holiday season and the assortment of titles your kids will no doubt want to listen to (*cough*Frozen 2*cough*), the handful Birde provides access to in the box plus what’s available through the store doesn’t scream enough to keep kids entirely entertained. It’s a start, for sure, but it’s not a be-all, end-all, and you may have to hand over your phone to let them hear Elsa and Anna.
If you’re looking to give your kids a semblance of independence, the Birde speaker offers just that, letting them control their sound with a simple tap.