Road-testing Spotify's Car Thing
Road-testing Spotify's Car Thing
8:28

Road-testing Spotify's Car Thing

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Speaker 1: Do you have an old car? Wish you had a screen in your vehicle, jealous of friends with their fancy entertainment systems, envy, no more introducing car thing, 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, Lu it in and where you go. Wow. But wait this more. When I first heard about car thing, I was [00:00:30] sold, my car is from 2015, so it's not that old, but it doesn't have something like Android auto or CarPlay built in. And there is a screen in the dash, but look, it doesn't really show track information and things like that. Reliably when my phone is connected to the stereo and it's 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 sign up to the wait list. I was really hoping to be one of [00:01:00] those Spotify premium members got this for free. I'll ask that didn't happen. But fortunately, seven months later, I got an invite to buy it. And $80 of my own money later, the questio is, was it worth it? Speaker 1: The design of car thing is actually really nice. Starting with the whole unboxing experience. You get three different mouths to choose from to attach car thing, to your car vents, to your dash, to your CD player. The installation process [00:01:30] is pretty straightforward. You plug the included adapter into the 12 volt socket. Then plug the us B a to us C cable into the back of the screen, scan the QR code on the pamphlet. And, and you walk through the setup to connect your phone to car thing via Bluetooth. Then you connect your phone either via ox, 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 [00:02:00] phone to the stereo though is another matter because the blue or tooth in my car is a little bit patchy. Speaker 1: It's 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 don't really wanna risk a smash and grab. If I leave this on display, there's a big navigation wheel. You can use to select things or change the volume, a back button right underneath that. Plus the four inch touch screen at self I'm, a big fan of the Spotify UI. And the screen is nice with a resolution of four 80 by 800. [00:02:30] 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 they are kind of small and because the car thing itself is so thin. Speaker 1: Sometimes I ended up accidentally dislodging or even knocking the car thing off its mouth altogether. Or maybe it's just because I'm a massive clots. The other thing is you can obviously control this with your voice so you don't need to touch [00:03:00] anything and interact with the screen at all. You can just say, Hey, Spotify, play some driving music and away you go because you're driving. This is a device that really needs to nail voice recognition. You don't wanna constantly be taking your eyes off the road to fiddle with a screen or look down and change anything. So there's 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, [00:03:30] play release radar Speaker 2: Playlist Speaker 1: Release radar. Hey, Spotify, play my audio network Speaker 2: Playlist. Speaker 1: Hey, Spotify, play audio network. Speaker 2: Playlist audio network took a couple tries, Speaker 1: But it got there. Eventually. Unfortunately I found voice recognition to be a little bit hit and miss. Now this might also be partly [00:04:00] to do with my accent, but I've definitely found even when I've been asking for really simple requests, like simple playlists, even artist names that are not at all complex, I've definitely found it's either given me an error message saying it doesn't understand what I'm talking about or that it just plays something wrong completely. Hey, Spotify, play MF do Speaker 2: Doom. Speaker 1: That wasn't what I wanted play MF doom. Speaker 2: Here's MF Speaker 1: Doom, but sometimes it actually nails [00:04:30] it. Like if I'm on a radio station or I'm playing a playlist and I wanna hear the entire album by that particular artist, I can just say, Hey, Spotify, play this album or play more song 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 a hundred percent [00:05:00] reliability when your engine is on and you're driving my car, isn't even that loud either it's fairly insulated. So I would imagine if you had an older car, there was a lot more noisy inside. It might be a little bit more of an issue. Speaker 1: There is a mode to turn off the microphone in the settings menu. If you are concerned about it, always listening. And there's also a vent detection option that tell you if there's too much interference, if you do Mount the car thing on your air vents, okay, so let's talk shortcomings. This is a device [00:05:30] that only works with Spotify. There are no maps. There are no apps and there's 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, a breaker for me is the fact that there's no music storage on board. And if you think about it, if you're 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. Speaker 1: Now, if you're going through an area with kind of patchy connectivity [00:06:00] and your phone loses connection, cuz it's probably likely that's gonna happen, the music's gonna 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 you're a Spotify premium subscriber. Just put that on your phone. Yeah, but you know, I might not always have space a on my phone. I might not always have my phone with me. I might using someone else's phone. So just having the flexibility of having onboard music storage just for a couple songs, a couple albums would be amazing. So here's the thing. If I got this for free, [00:06:30] I would be over the moon, but for $80 it does feel a little bit steep, especially because there's no music storage on board. You absolutely need your phone with you to use this in the car. Speaker 1: If you already have Android auto or CarPlay, you probably realize that car thing is probably not for you. There's really no point. But if you are looking at updating your car stereo system to something with one of those options, that's upwards of $250, maybe a is a little bit more palatable than [00:07:00] 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 you're willing to spend, but this is Spotify's first hardware products. And I think that there is so much promise here if both the hardware and the voice recognition system can get a little, 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 backseat, say kids, or you are an Uber or Lyft driver [00:07:30] and you wanna let them control the music while you just concentrate on the driving. Speaker 1: The second one is, if you want to simply use your phone to nav gate and the car thing only to display music considering this is still kind of tricky to get. I think most people are probably gonna be best served by just getting a phone mark 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 [00:08:00] activating Spotify using either apple or Google's voice assistant. I'm not gonna say them so I don't start yours accidentally for now. I think I'll probably end up still using this for longer drives, but for shorter commutes, to me, it's not worth the hassle. Get your own car thing for four easy payments of $20 made all at once. Call the number in the description. Now we are standing by to take your call like in subscribe in the next five minutes and you'll get all of C net's future videos for free call or click now.

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