Spotify Car Thing review
The incredible smart screen that makes your old car feel new. Listen to spotify use your voice to play your favorite songs interact with a touch screen, plug it in and away you go wow, but wait theres more. When i first heard about car thing i was sold, my car is from 2015, so its not that old, but it doesnt have something like android, auto or carplay built in, and there is a screen in the dash. But look it doesnt really show track information and things like that reliably when my phone is connected to the stereo and its not a touch screen. So the prospect of having a dedicated screen for music in the car is really exciting, especially if you have an older vehicle like i do so i signed up to the waitlist. I was really hoping to be one of those spotify premium members that got this for free, the last that didnt happen, but fortunately, seven months later, i got an invite to buy it and 80 of my own money later. The question is: was it worth it? The design of car thing is actually really nice, starting with the whole unboxing experience. You get three different mounts to choose from to attach car thing to your car vents to your dash to your cd player. The installation process is pretty straightforward. You plug the included adapter into the 12 volt socket then plug the usb. A to usb c cable into the back of the screen scan the qr code on the pamphlet and youll walk through the setup to connect your phone to carthing via bluetooth.
Then you connect your phone either via aux usb or bluetooth to your car stereo. The whole process took me about five minutes and then every time i get in the car and start the ignition, the car thing would automatically connect to my phone. My phone to the stereo, though, is another matter, because the bluetooth in my car is a little bit patchy, its also just as easy to take this down and put it away in the glove box when you get to your destination. This is san francisco. After all – and i dont really want to risk a smash and grab. If i leave this on display theres a big navigation wheel, you can use to select things or change the volume, a back button right, underneath that plus the 4 inch touchscreen itself. Im a big fan of the spotify ui and the screen is nice with a resolution of 480×800. I never had issues seeing it while driving. It is a little laggy, but not too bad. Four buttons on the top of the car thing are fully programmable. So you can customize these to play: favorite, artists, playlists and even radio stations. Only thing is, they are kind of small and because the car thing itself is so thin. Sometimes i ended up accidentally dislodging or even knocking the car thing off its mount altogether, or maybe its just because im a massive klutz. The other thing is, you can obviously control this with your voice, so you dont need to touch anything and interact with the screen at all.
You can just say: hey spotify play some driving music and away you go because youre driving this is a device that really needs to nail voice recognition. You dont want to constantly be taking your eyes off the road to fiddle with a screen or look down and change anything so theres, four microphones integrated into the top of car thing. I really wanted to test them out and see what would happen when i had the windows down music blaring and see how well they still picked up my voice. Hey spotify play release radar, playlist, release radar, hey spotify play my audio network. Playlist, hey spotify play audio network playlist Music audio network took a couple tries, but it got there eventually. Unfortunately, i found voice recognition to be a little bit hit and miss now. This might also be partly to do with my accent, but ive definitely found even when ive been asking for really simple requests like simple playlists, even artist names that are not at all complex ive, definitely found its either. Given me an error message, saying it doesnt understand what im talking about or that it just plays something wrong. Completely, hey spotify play mf doom head of doom that wasnt what i wanted play: mf doom heres mf doom, but sometimes it actually nails it like if im on a radio station or im playing a playlist – and i want to hear the entire album by that particular Artist, i can just say: hey spotify, play this album or play more songs like this and even some non english names and song titles.
This gets first time which i was surprised about. I found that voice recognition actually worked better when there was less background noise. When say like, my car was idling, or even when i had the engine off, which kind of defeats the purpose, if you think about it, to not really have 100 reliability when your engine is on and youre driving. My car isnt even that loud either its fairly insulated. So i would imagine if you had an older car theres a lot more noisy inside. It might be a little bit more of an issue. There is a mode to turn off the microphone in the settings menu if you are concerned about it, always listening and theres also a vent detection option that will tell you, if theres too much interference if you do mount the car thing on your air vents. Okay, so lets talk shortcomings. This is a device that only works with spotify. There are no maps, there are no apps and theres no music equalizer either. On the car thing now, i could probably live with those things on the first generation, except the one thing that i think is the deal breaker for me is the fact that theres no music storage on board and, if you think about it, if youre going on Long road trips – and this is really the application that i would use this for – is having tunes at my disposal, having friends being able to change the song and just having a continuous flow of music.
Now, if youre going through an area with kind of patchy connectivity and your phone loses connection because its probably likely thats going to happen, the music is going to cut out and the vibe is totally gone, you might be saying: yeah look lexi, you can use. You know offline, playback and download music because youre a spotify premium subscriber just put that on your phone yeah, but you know i might not always have space on my phone. I might not always have my phone with me. I might be using someone elses phone so just having the flexibility of having onboard music storage just for a couple songs. A couple albums would be amazing, so heres the thing. If i got this for free, i would be over the moon, but for 80. It does feel a little bit steep, especially because theres no music storage on board – and you absolutely need your phone with you to use this in the car. If you already have android, auto or carplay, you probably realize that coughing is probably not for you theres. Really. No point, but if youre looking at updating your car stereo system to something with one of those options, thats upwards of two hundred and fifty dollars, maybe eighty dollars is a little bit more palatable than again single use. Device. Android, auto and carplay gives you so much more functionality for the money, so i guess it really depends on your priorities there and how much youre willing to spend.
But this is spotifys first hardware product, and i think that there is so much promise here. If both the hardware and the voice recognition system can get a little bit more robust, and i can think of specific scenarios that i think i would absolutely buy a car thing for the first one is: if you have passengers in the back seat, say kids or You are an uber or lyft driver, and you want to let them control the music while you just concentrate on the driving. The second one is, if you want to simply use your phone to navigate and the car thing only to display music considering. This is still kind of tricky to get. I think most people are probably going to be best served by just getting a phone mount for their car plugging in your phone. The normal way you would to the stereo and then using either the voice assistant in the spotify app with pretty much the same commands as you would get on the car thing or activating spotify, using either apple or googles, voice, assistant, im, not gon na, say them. So i dont start yours accidentally for now i think ill probably end up still using this for longer drives, but for shorter commutes to me, its not worth the hassle, get your own car thing for four easy payments of twenty dollars made all at once.