Spotify’s Car Thing, a gadget that lets users access the company’s streaming music offering in a driver-friendly format, is finally a product regular Spotify Premium subscribers have a chance of getting their hands on. As part of the device’s formal launch, subscribers can sign up to get one, and, remarkably, Spotify is discounting the entire $80 price, asking that eligible customers only pay the $7 shipping charge.
What exactly is Car Thing? It’s a device that Spotify has been working on for a few years, using early prototypes to understand how its customers interact with Spotify’s streaming audio content while in their cars. The version that the company has just released looks like a smartphone with a large rotating knob attached to the front of the display.
The 4-inch display is touch-sensitive and along the top edge of the device are four preset buttons that can be programmed with favorites — from playlists to albums, or any other Spotify favorite.
To use Car Thing, you’ll need a Spotify Premium account and you’ll have to keep your smartphone nearby. Car Thing needs the Spotify app on your phone to access streaming content. A Bluetooth connection from the Car Thing to your phone lets the Car Thing act as a remote control, albeit a pretty fancy one. A second Bluetooth connection from your phone to your car’s audio system is how you actually hear your chosen music. Other connections work too, like an Aux-in or USB plug.
There’s no battery, so you’ll need to keep it powered via a USB cable and the car lighter adapter that’s included in the box. It also comes with three kinds of vehicle mounts, giving you a choice of where and how you place Car Thing.
In addition to the big control wheel, touchscreen, and preset buttons, you can use your voice to navigate and control your music. Saying “Hey Spotify,” followed by commands like: “Play rock,” “play my favorites,” or “play more like this” will be picked up by the device’s near-field and mid-field microphones.
Spotify’s introductory offer of an essentially free Car Thing is no doubt going to create huge demand, especially among Spotify subscribers who don’t own cars with a CarPlay– or Android Auto-compatible system. It will be more interesting to see what happens after this offer is over and the device starts selling for its regular $80 price.
Will Spotify users be willing to shell out that kind of money for a gadget that only works with one streaming service and is only useful in a vehicle? That will be the true test of the Car Thing’s appeal.
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