The Spotify Car Thing is a bit of an odd device. Resting somewhere in a functional grey area between a smartphone, a typical in-car audio device, and a virtual assistant, the Spotify Car Thing is attempting to carve out a whole sub-niche of its own. But just in case you’re not a fan of Spotify, or you want to investigate the current spectrum of in-car audio options to make a comparison, we’ve rounded up the closest list of Spotify Car Thing alternatives we could find.
Best Spotify Car Thing Alternatives
Down below, we run you through the closest devices out there in terms of functionality to the Spotify Car Thing. But, as we mentioned, the Spotify Car Thing is as ambiguous as its name — and is, quite literally, its own thing. Nonetheless, we cover a few close counterparts and a couple Car Thing alternatives you might want to consider, looking at where they excel and where they fall short. Be sure to drop us any questions in the comments below!
1. Echo Auto
- Price: $49.99
- Brand: Amazon
The Echo Auto is probably the closest comparison that can be made to the Car Thing. As an Echo device, it’s essentially Alexa in a box, opening up pretty much everything that the Spotify Car Thing can do and maybe a little bit more. You can play Spotify or Apple Music, stream Audible, listen to iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, and basically do anything else that you can with your phone — as well as all sorts of other Alexa-oriented tasks like checking your email, making phone calls, or accessing your Smart home accessories through voice control. Thus the Echo Auto arguably has something of an edge over the Spotify Car Thing in terms of raw functionality; it’s a jack of all trades, whereas the car thing is a specialist. Its design, with the preset keys and physical dial, makes it much more user-friendly for general audio consumption than the Echo Auto.
Buy: Echo Auto
- Price: $35.99
- Brand: Kinivo
The KinivoBTC 450 is pretty much as simple a Spotify Car Thing alternative as it gets. A hands-free Bluetooth adapter, the Kinivo lacks the screen and other bells and whistles that come with the Car Thing but, physically, operates somewhat similar with a multi-function button to activate hands-free calling and two media buttons to control your music. So, not the same features, with a little more in the overall functionality (by way of your smartphone) and a little less in the control and convenience department when it comes to your audio consumption.
Buy: Kinivo BTC450
- Price: $29.99
- Brand: Satechi
Up next we have the Setachi Media Button, which operates somewhere within the no man’s land between the Car Thing and other, more recognizable in-car audio options. The Bluetooth-connected button can sit right on your steering wheel and pairs with the media device you’re listening to (which, in this case, is probably your phone, already connected to your stereo). While it doesn’t have fancy features like easy-access presets, the button provides pretty solid control over your audio with volume, play/pause, and forward/backtrack buttons.
- Price: $57.97
- Brand: VeoPulse
The VeoPulse Car Speakerphone is less of a direct alternative to the Car Thing and more a separate device with some feature overlap. Really designed to optimize hands-free calling, the VeoPulse can also play music/podcasts off your phone from a built-in speaker. That said, it really is optimized for calls; there’s a good chance your car’s speakers are much better than the VeoPulse’s, and the sun-visor mount isn’t as convenient as a steering wheel or ac mount — but better for capturing your choice. So, while you would buy this for a different priority — in-car calling — it shuttle be noted that the VeoPulse shares some functional overlap with the Car Thing.
- Price: $19.99
- Brand: SoundBot
The SoundBot is as dirt cheap a Spotify Car Thing alternative as it gets. Another media button, the SoundBot comes with its own pause/play/forward/backtrack buttons as well as a built-in mic. It also comes with a clip mount that makes it wearable, putting it somewhere between a calling-oriented device like the VeoPulse and the Satechi in terms of functionality. Taken altogether, the SoundBot is yet another audio tool for the Spotify Thing to contend with.
Buy: Soundbot SB360
- Price: $34.99
- Brand: Tunai
Essentially a direct competitor to the Satechi, the Tunai is the final media button on this list that provides nigh-identical functionality at the same price point. The most salient difference between those two devices, in particular, is the extended battery life (3 years as opposed to 2) and the extra call button on the device itself. Otherwise, the Tunai Media Button is another perfectly viable Spotify Thing alternative for optimizing in-car audio consumption.
Buy: Tunai Media Button
Your Average Smartphone?
Brand: Whatever floats your boat
The, well, thing about the Spotify Car Thing is that it exists in a niche that doesn’t quite exist — at least not yet. The difference between the Car Thing and other alternatives like, say, your smartphone is a subtle one. When the phone in your pocket, when paired with your car or a Bluetooth accessory, can do just about everything already, why opt for the Car Thing at all? Well, Spotify argues that the difference is in the details. The Car Thing is meant to optimize just audio consumption. With four programmable presets for instant access to your favorite audio sources, “Hey Spotify” voice control, and an ergonomic dial provides you with easy, navigation that is, arguably, more robust than any of the bare-bones media buttons out there. On top of that it has a color display that shows you what’s playing, what’s up next, and everything else you need to know. So the Spotify Car Thing has some… things… going for it. But is it enough to replace your smartphone? Is there enough of a need in the market right now that a whole, super-specialized device is even warranted?
Well. That’s entirely up to you.
And if you’re interested in trying it out, Spotify is actually giving the Car Thing away for free for a limited time — all you need is Spotify Premium to get in on it. It’s kind of like a Woop Band for your ears. Your ears, inside of a car.
What do you make of the Spotify Car Thing? Seriously, do you think Spotify is on to something or is this a somewhat hilariously misguided attempt to answer a problem that doesn’t really exist? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to shoot any questions at us. We’d love to hear what you have to say.