LAS VEGAS — One of the joys of parenthood for me has been reading to my daughter. But sometimes — when I'm driving, say, and she's in the back seat or I'm at work and she's at home — cracking open a book isn't an option. It's time's like those when Lunii can step in and handle the story-telling duties.
Lunii is a $70 digital storyteller, housed in a bright turquoise case that looks a lot like an old clock radio, only without the clock part. Using Lunii's controls — a knob and some buttons — you (or even better, your child) can set up the parameters of a story, and then sit back while the device spins a 3- to 7-minute tale.
Lunii started shipping in the U.S. in the middle of last year, after debuting in France two years ago, and I'm convinced it's a perfect addition to your storytelling arsenal. Here's why:
It's Simple to Control: There isn't a complicated interface that your 3- to 8-year-old has to navigate — just a series of big, easy-to-operate buttons. The front features a home button, another button for pausing the story, and an OK button for selecting stories, plus a knob you use to cycle between characters and settings. On the side, a volume knob lets your kid adjust the volume to their liking. It's all very understandable.
There's Lots of Different Stories: When you pick a story on Lunii, you choose a hero, a setting, a secondary character and an object. All told, there are 48 different combinations of stories on the device, giving you roughly three-and-a-half hours of listening time — assuming that your kid doesn't gravitate toward the same stories like mine does.
More Stories Are Available: If your child quickly runs through the stories preinstalled on the Lunii, you have the option of loading up more. Lunii sells additional stories for between $5 and $20. (The higher price covers multi-story packs.)
There's No Screen: In an era of parental controls and app limits, you don't have to worry about adding Lunii to the array of devices you have to manage. This is an audio-only device, so there's no screen time to fret about.
Lunii offers about 10 hours of battery, and you recharge it via a USB port. (That's also how you upload new stories into the device.) There's also a headphone jack for those times when your child wants to keep the story all to themselves.