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Review of Luka Mini vs Original Luka Reading Companion

This is a mini post.  A post about the recently launched Luka Mini.

Luka Mini is a simpler (and cheaper) version of the Original Luka Reading Companion, and it stacks up well against its forebears.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it is – particularly give the significantly lower price point.  It’s a great entry-level reading robot for toddlers / very young children, as it has reduced functionality and optionality, but the same ability to read physical picture books with high audio quality. 

Firstly, if reading this, and you haven’t gotten on board with the Luka-craze yet, please read my earlier blog post about what Luka Reading Companion is.  If you are already aware who this intelligent bilingual reading robot is, then read on to see how the latest model compares.

This post contains a detailed review and comparison of Luka Mini against Original Luka and Luka Hero, and covers:

  1. Luka Product Suite
  2. Differentiating factor of Luka Mini
  3. Head-to-Head comparison of Mini vs other Luka Hero and Original Luka
  4. Pros of Luka Mini
  5. Cons of Luka Mini
  6. Which model is best for our family?

We were blessed to have a Luka Mini join our family a month back, as a beta test for Luka Reads.  Within days of it arriving, my kids were asking if I can buy one for them, and I think they do have a good point.  If we didn’t already have an Original Luka, this would be my choice for the entry-level product for a toddler.  However, it certainly doesn’t replace our much-loved Luka Hero (which is significantly more helpful for an older child).

The Luka Reading Robot Full Product suite

There are five main versions of Luka:

  1. Luka (launched July 2017): the original picture book reading robot – with ability to read story books in Mandarin and English (over 70,000 titles), play lots of Chinese audio/songs, and conduct short conversations using AI voice recognition.    My original review was on this model.

Luka Hero, Original Luka, and Luka Mini

Why Mini?

In terms of product positioning, the Luka Mini is being marketed as “a story machine which can also read physical picture books”.   So, it’s designed to be rivalling cheaper indestructible Chinese story machines such小牛津帽T熊 vs. 幼福忍者兔 vs. Food超人.  These machines are literally just audio storytellers, but Mini obviously has the additional function to read physical books (which for me, is much more important). 

In my humble opinion, Mini also rivals its sister product Original Luka on several fronts in term of most basic use, making it a suitable choice for a baby/toddler.  Summary of detailed pros and cons are listed below.

Mini is a toddler-sized Luka, which is easier to cuddle and more robust against dropping.

Pros of Mini (versus Original Luka)

Mini offers quite a few kid-friendly differentiating features to Original Luka, which are:

Pictures above show the on/off button at the back, and buttons at the front, which are easier for small hands to navigate.

Cons of Luka Mini (versus Original Luka)

The features which have been taken out from Luka Mini, but which are aspects we enjoy in Original Luka are:

  1. Ability to play different versions of the books – Mini simply reads the story books, whereas in Original and Hero, there are options to have ‘role play mode’ and ‘singing mode’, where Luka narrates the books differently (or puts the text to music, and sings it as song lyrics!).  This is a feature the kids love, but I don’t think it’s essential.

  2. DIY picture book recording is not possible on Mini – in the original Luka and Hero versions, it’s possible for an adult to pre-record their own story books into Luka, for a child to read along to.  This is a lovely feature of the Original product to allow grandparents or friends to record stories for children, or do it indeed in another language like Cantonese, Malay, etc.  It’s not possible in Mini.

  3. More limited interactive chat functions – the original Luka and Hero are endearing for their inane chatter, and occasionally unnecessary flatulence.  The Mini doesn’t have this.  Moreover, Mini is more limited in the voice commands which can be given to it.  The voice commands in Mini cover a limited range of Mandarin topics (and non in English), whereas Original/Hero have seemingly endless ability of AI-chat in Mandarin, and a good range in English too.

  4. More limited audio content:  The Original and Hero have a much wider range of songs and podcasts (not limited to nursery rhymes and children’s songs like Mini is).

Luka Mini: Cute to cuddle, great with books, but doesn’t replace functionality of Original Luka

Head-to-Head Comparison of Original Luka, Hero and Mini

This table compares the key features across Original Luka, Luka Hero and Luka Mini. For Mini especially, I’ve highlighted in green where I think it’s a benefit, and red where it’s reduced functionality from the Original.

Comparison of what Luka Original, Luka Hero and Luka Mini each do

Which Luka is right for our family?

Which one is witch?

For very young children / babies:

Most of the good story reading aspects of Original Luka have now been replicated into Luka Mini.  So for someone with a baby/toddler, or primarily wanting the Luka for book reading, the Mini has you all covered.   If you fall in love with Mini, then you’d probably want to seriously consider upgrading to Luka Hero a few years later, as it’s got a lot more features to continue enjoying, especially the broad range of audio/podcasts/music and AI Chat.

For older children:

Skip the Mini.  Whilst Mini has many of the functions that Original Luka has, it’s Original’s random chatter and big eyes which make Luka really engaging. In that sense, Mini is lacking in personality and whimsicalness, whereas Original/Hero offers both of these. For an older child, I think engaging it what you want.  Original Luka also has a function to record your own books, which is a nice feature, especially if you want to add in a new language to Luka or bring to life stories which your child has written/drawn!

Original Luka is really an excellent choice for any bilingual family, especially if the main focus is on listening to picture books being read, and for the rich audio options. However, for families where parents don’t speak Chinese, Luka Hero gives some interesting applications for older children, such as reading individual characters, or use as a dictionary to look up words (handwritten or printed).  

The Luka Hero is leagues apart  – both pricewise and functionality-wise – for good reason.  Luka Hero has “Point and Read” and “Read and Repeat”, and also uses its large eyes to cleverly display Chinese characters / pinyin / English definitions.  This means it can recognise any Chinese/English printed text or neat handwriting, which serves to assist an older child as a dictionary function, or assist in independent reading.  I’ve written a detailed review of how Luka Hero compares to Original Luka in a separate post.

Luka Hero’s LED eyes make it an advanced model for older children.

Where to buy Luka, Luka Mini and Luka Hero?

Luka Reads is the official distributor in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. For those countries, the international shipping fee is absorbed. Through their website, it’s also possible to order into other countries, if international shipping is paid.   Luka Reads provides 1 year warranty and exchanges on any faulty devices.

If you purchase Original Luka or Luka Hero through their main website and enter my promo code as “Lahlah20off” for $20. Thank you Luka Reads team for blessing my blog readers (note: no sales commission/$ to me, just a gift to you!). is a Chinese bookstore which ships globally, including in the US. They stock several versions of Luka at great prices, so if you’re brave enough to order through a Chinese website, you could give it a shot. Some mothers from Motherly Notes recommend this method. Otherwise the minefield of Taobao is where we bought our first one from.  Neither of these methods will come with the local warranty or support though!

Have fun with Luka!

I hope this post helps you to understand the differences between Luka Mini and other models. I’d love to hear what you’ve discovered too! Please do share – either in comments below, or drop me a note.

If you’re interested to read more about Luka, some previous posts which I’ve written that you may like are:

DISCLAIMER: I’m grateful that we have had Luka Mini to borrow, thanks to the lovely team at Luka Reads – since we were existing avid Luka fans, and I’d already written several blog posts on our other Lukas.

The views shared in this review are my own genuine, unbiased opinion – as is everything contained on this blog. There are no affiliations, sponsorship, commissions, behind this post nor anything on this blog. It’s a passion project, not a business or source of any income.

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