gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

My Little Morphée – Kids Sleep Aid Reviewed

Sleep is a tricky beast. For some it’s elusive, for others we stubbornly ward it off, refusing to let go of a day that hasn’t gone our way. For toddlers… it’s their sworn enemy, it’s no fun, it’s the bittersweet end of another full day, it’s missing out on what their parents get up to after dark.

No networking, no screens, no nonsense- feels like it’s from the 70s, stacked with content like it’s from 2022.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) September 2, 2022

Our three year old is no exception, and bedtimes have become an odd mix of books, audio books and educational YouTube videos. I wish the latter felt like a triumph of parenting, or an excuse to brag, but I’d much rather they watched the videos during the day and developed more healthy habits for sleep. No matter how educational the videos might be, it feels like relying on a screen in order to sleep is not the best precedent to set. It certainly doesn’t do me – a somewhat functional and responsible adult – any favours.

While Yoto has been a great device for listening to kids audio books I learned the hard way, attempting to sleep while listening to Levar Burton Reads, that an engaging and unpredictable story is also antithetical to sleep. Podcasts can have the same effect- if the subject is too gripping I’ll fight back the Sandman and find myself still awake, an hour later. The same applies to toddlers, although it’s fair to say somewhat less so.

Enter “My Little Morphée,” a barebones, audio sleep aid for kids (and, it seems, adults too) that dispenses with complexity and instead delivers rote, predictably structured stories. Each story is sandwiched with the same structure- the title, an introductory relaxation guide, three deep-breaths, the ring of a singing bowl and the story itself. These stories are deliberately uninteresting in a fashion you might be forgiven for assuming is lazy storytelling. As I’ve learned from my misadventures with audio books and podcasts, this paired back simplicity is, in truth, wholly intentional and completely critical to Morphée’s function as a sleep aid.

So too is the minimalist design which eschews the almost universal menace of LED or LCD displays and pares the Morphée back to something which feels at one both modern and reassuringly vintage. The two front knobs are delectably tactile and, coupled with the play-pause button on top, form the straightforward interface through which your child will select and trigger stories or music. They lend the Morphée an almost mechanical feel and it’s easy to picture the device with a wind up key in lieu of a play button. A two position switch on the side allows the selection of long/short play duration, and the wheel serves both as a power button and volume control. While there is an indicator LED it only lights up when it’s charging. Charging is via a microUSB port (a shame, since USB Type-C is the defacto standard these days) and a supplied USB-A to microUSB cable (like from your old phone) which you’ll need to plug into a USB power supply, laptop or computer USB port.

My Little Morphée stirs up ancient memories of that classic Fisher-Price record player. Both it, and Morphée, present kids with just enough functionality to select their own choice of music (and also story in the case of the Morphée) but are devoid of anything superfluous.

Yoto vs My Little Morphee. Both fantastic, both very different appeals, goals and design choices.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) September 2, 2022

Despite being electronic in nature, there’s no Bluetooth or WiFi. No app. No aftermarket purchases and no slender fingers reaching into your wallet for another £5 or £10 here and there. What you see is what you get. I appreciate devices such as the aforementioned Yoto Player, which deliver a vast array of child-friendly, network content in a package a little less obnoxious than YouTube. But it’s nice that My Little Morphée is a self-contained, complete product. It feels eminently more giftable, since it doesn’t come with an almost obligation to buy more content. It simply is.

If what I’m describing sounds like a glorified, wind-up music box… well that’s exactly what they seem to be going for. Morphée is the wind-up music box of the 21st century and you need only look at the adult version – which very much leans into this aesthetic – to confirm this. Its creators very deliberately avoid screens, lights and distractions and playfully reject the idea that Morphée will ever be a “Smartphone App.”

Unlike a music box Morphée comes with almost 200 different stories, songs and soundscapes, selected via permutations of the two front dials. These include stories such as “The Bear In Space”, “An Unbelievable Journey”, at least 8 relaxing soundscapes, 8 songs, stories centered around positive skills and finally individual guided meditation and group meditation tracks.

The dials work in concert, and are fairly intuitive with bold, clear symbols denoting their function. The left dial will pick music, soundscapes, group meditation, meditation or one of eight different animals while the right will pick one of eight locations.

Suffice to say there’s an enormous amount of content that’s always available wherever you go with no worries about network connectivity. The battery will last about 3 hours, which is plenty for a weekend away.

Overall I love it. It’s a brilliant idea, well presented, pared back, durable and simple. Is there anything I’d change? Perhaps. The “knobs” aren’t perfect- you can’t see at a glance what’s selected, and it’s possible (though not easy, since they snap into position) to leave them *between* two positions and press play which upsets the little chip that provides the brains of Morphée.

Has a sneaky SD card slot for content… not user-serviceable! I think it’s encrypted, though you *can* see the files.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) September 2, 2022

All of the sound data is stored on a microSD card. You can find it in a screwed-shut compartment on the bottom. The data is inscrutable, either being encrypted or simply saved in a custom format. This choice (over an onboard chip to store the files) is presumably so that alternate languages can be loaded in production, and I’d love to figure out how to load my own content … perhaps just one track as a surprise “Hey, this is Dad… go to sleep! Over and out. Bzzzt.”

You can learn more about My Little Morphée over at their website or grab your own for around £80 at Amazon UK. It’s not cheap, but in this case you’re paying for both the device itself and the generous library of content.

For my fellow geeks out there, here’s a teardown-

And of course I took it apart… should I upgrade the battery? ???

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) September 2, 2022

Friday, September 2nd, 2022, Health, Personal Audio, Toys.