Run With Music and Without Your Phone
The Good and the Bad of the “iPod Shuffle for Spotify”
The Mighty Vibe ($86) is a standalone and screen-less music player, similar to the iPod Shuffle of yesteryear, with a unique skill: its designed specifically for Spotify. You need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to use the Mighty Vibe, as non-subscribers can’t download playlists and podcasts for offline listening, which is what this little gadget depends on. The gist is, if you like to run or workout with music, you can leave your smartphone at home — no need to carry it, strap it to your arm or stuff it in a pocket — and you can still listen to your workout playlists or favorite podcasts. Just clip it on and go.
There are very few non-smartphones that support offline Spotify listening for Spotify; the latest Samsung and Garmin smartwatches are the only ones that come to mind, and they’re all significantly more expensive but more sophisticated than the Mighty Vibe. In contrast to smartphones, the Might Vibe has a headphone jack, meaning it will work with both Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth headphones.
A point of clarification: This is the second-generation of the Mighty Vibe. The first-gen product, which was the first device that played Spotify without the need for a phone, launched on Kickstarter in early February 2016, raised over $1 million and then shipped to customers in July 2017. It was wildly successful but needed improvement.
The second-gen Mighty Vibe looks very similar to its predecessor, though it’s slightly slimmer and comes in more colors. Its biggest differences are internal. It has better battery life and now lasts five-plus hours with Bluetooth or wired headphones. It features better Bluetooth capabilities, meaning fewer dropouts and longer range. And, finally, the company redesigned its mobile app so that the Mighty Vibe is more intuitive to set up and use.
Spotify on the Apple Watch: Though there’s a Spotify app for the Apple Watch, it should be noted you can’t download anything for offline listening. However, if you pay for LTE, which is only available on Series 3 and Series 4 models, you can stream Spotify without your iPhone.
The Good: The Mighty Vibe is the most affordable device that will play Spotify playlists and podcasts offline (Spotify Premium only). It’s simple to use; basically, it’s an iPod Shuffle that uses Spotify instead of iTunes. With 8GB of storage, it can hold roughly 1,000 songs. Also cool: it’ll automatically update your podcasts and playlists for you. It’s sweatproof and has pretty good battery life. The Mighty Vibe will work with all Bluetooth headphones or speakers, and it’s compatible with both iPhone and Android smartphones.
Who It’s For: Spotify Premium subscribers who want to exercise without their smartphones on their person. It’s also worth considering that in a group setting one could connect the Mighty Vibe to a speaker and avoid interruptions from calls and texts.
Watch Out For: No battery indicator on the device itself — you’ll need to open the smartphone app to know. No voice control. It only works with Spotify (here’s a chance it could work with other music services in the future). $86 still feels too expensive for what the Mighty Vibe is.
Alternatives: There are only a few devices that support offline listening for Spotify, such as the latest Samsung and Garmin smartwatches, but all of those are much more expensive.
Review: I’ve been running with Spotify for years. I need music to exercise; otherwise, I’m not motivated. Like… at all. I try to run a few times a week, and for years I’ve run with a smartphone on my person, whether in my pocket, attached to my waist or in my hand. I’ve tested each of Samsung’s latest fitness trackers – the Gear Fit2 Pro ($200) fitness band and the Gear Sport ($280) smartwatch – and they’re able to achieve the same thing (Spotify offline listening) as this Mighty Vibe, but with some key differences. Both are expensive. And both require the user to use Samsung’s apps and Samsung’s operating system, which isn’t what anybody with an iPhone (or a non-Samsung smartphone) will want to do.
When I first heard about Mighty Vibe, I was really excited to give it a test since there was nothing else like it. The Might Vibe is more affordable than its competitors, substantially so, and it doesn’t tie you to a possibly unfamiliar ecosystem like Samsung’s device. Just download the app, click a few buttons and you’re good to go.
I’ve been running with the Mighty Vibe for six weeks and I have to say that for the most part, the Mighty Vibe works well and works as advertised, but it isn’t perfect. There are design- and app-related issues that I wish were different, but the main issue I had with the Mighty Vibe is simply getting used to using a device that doesn’t have a screen.
Running with a smartphone sucks. If it’s in my pocket, it’s flapping all over the place as I run. If it’s in my hand, it looks super weird, not to mention that in the winter your hand will get ridiculously cold. But running with a smartphone is also an advantage: since it has a screen, anytime I want I can easily select any specific song on my playlist. If I want Linkin Park, I can play Linkin Park. Or The Offspring or Rage Against the Machine or Trapt. Point is, as long as the song is on my playlist and I have it downloaded, I can change to any specific song I want while running, which I do often.
Without a screen, the Mighty Vibe can only play/pause and switch between individual tracks. This means that if you’re like me and have a “Run” playlist that’s 50+ songs deep and you’re craving one very specific song, it’s potentially going to take a while to get to it. And mid-run, that’s not always the most motivating thing.
Another little issue, which I hadn’t considered at all, was volume control. The Mighty Vibe works with all Bluetooth headphones, but not all of them have built-in volume controls. For instance, I alternated between using three earbuds – Jabra Sport Coach ($90), Samsung IconX ($130+) and the Sony WF-SP700N ($130) wireless earbuds. The Jabra’s and Sony’s both worked great because they both feature volume controls built into the earbuds, but the Sony earbuds didn’t. So even though the volume was maxed out on the Mighty Vibe, it wasn’t necessarily maxed on the earbuds. I had to double check before each run that volume controls were set correctly; otherwise, I’d be listening to really quiet music. I can’t run like that. I need it loud.
It’s important to remember that Spotify only allows three devices per account to download music or podcasts, and the Mighty Vibe obviously counts as one. You can manage your Spotify devices here, but as I found out, it doesn’t always work as neatly as you’d want. That’s is a criticism of Spotify, not of Mighty Vibe.
As a long-time Spotify user, I had high expectations for the MIght Vibe. There are things that could be improved, sure, but the most important thing is that it works. And it works pretty well.
Not needing to deal with a phone while running has been phenomenal, especially in winter. I didn’t have to find inventive ways of carrying my smartphone, and also didn’t have to deal with distractions like calls or texts. The Mighty Vibe features IPX4 water resistance, so you can run in the rain and sweat on it — just no swimming or dunking it in water.
Verdict: Despite being the most affordable device (by a lot) that enables offline Spotify use, $86 still feels a little too expensive. If it were in the $50-$60 price range, this thing would fly off of the shelves. That said, the Mighty Vibe does its one job admirably and there’s no other equivalent to it out there. If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber and you want to work out or run without carrying your phone, then this iPod Shuffle doppelganger is just the device to get.
What Others Are Saying:
• “My initial excitement for an “iPod Shuffle for Spotify” waned after I reviewed that first Mighty, largely due to the list of items that made it a burden to use. However, the company has addressed many of those directly with the updates present on the Vibe. Now the company actually has the compelling product I’d hoped for from the jump. Sure, you could just use the music service’s own offline playback tools and save the cash, but at less than $100, Mighty Vibe is a worthy investment for active folks and people who would rather leave their phone behind at times when music remains essential.” — Billy Steele, Engadget
• “So, why choose Mighty? The obvious reason is you may not want to replace or upgrade your GPS watch just to add the ability to play music. In that case, Mighty will set you back only $86. Another reason, which we really appreciate, is the physical buttons to change playlists, adjust volume, and skip tracks. Depending on your headphones, it can be a tricky sequence of clicks and swipes. And it’s all but impossible to dig through the menus on these smartwatches to change your tunes when you’re on the move.” — Jeff Dengate, Runner’s World
Mighty provided this product for review.
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