We took a look at the new Roav VIVA from Anker. Priced at $59.99, it’s a Bluetooth unit that promises to add Amazon Alexa to your vehicle. It’s a little pricier than most dual-outlet car chargers on the market, but does that Alexa integration make it worth the extra cost? Read on to find out.
Setting up an Anker Roav VIVA is pretty simple. Just plug the unit into an open port on your dash, pair your phone to it, open the app (which you’ve of course downloaded ahead of time) and follow the prompts with regards to music streaming.
From there, just log in to your Amazon account to get started with Alexa. It took me way too long to realize that I wasn’t connecting to the VIVA through my Bluetooth menu – just pairing it. Don’t be like me.
Compatibility-wise, Anker’s acknowledges that there may be some hiccups. A number of cars use different Bluetooth standards and software than are standard – this can cause issues. The list of makes and models that may not be compatible is comprehensive and somewhat unnerving.
It’s far from ideal, but Anker offers a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee through Amazon. So, even if your car is on the list, there’s really no risk to giving it a try. And for what it’s worth, I drive a 2015 Honda Fit – definitely on the list – and I’ve had no problems whatsoever.
As we’ve come to expect from Anker, the Roav VIVA is well-designed. It’s got an odd mixture of materials, textures and finishes: faux carbon fiber siding, glossy black plastic plug, a matte black plastic cap, and a frosted translucent LET ring and icon. Somehow it works, though – especially when plugged in.
That matte black cap is at home in basically any black interior. The LED ring – characteristic of an Alexa device – is surprisingly nuanced, the multi-color LED featuring fades, patterns and blinks with impressive sophistication.
In an odd design choice, the two USB ports are located on the underside of the unit, rather than its face or sides. It’s a strange decision, especially when you consider that not all DC ports offer enough clearance to plug a cable in there. When installing the VIVA, I’d definitely insert the cables before plugging in the unit; it’s tough to do, otherwise.
Anker’s Roav VIVA has two microphones and a dedicated noise canceling chip onboard, making it especially adept at isolating voice commands, even in a noisy cabin.
Granted, it’s probably not going to hear you shout at Alexa when you’re blaring Childish Gambino with the bass cranked, but for your average in-car experience, it’s totally adequate. The face of the VIVA also features a physical mute button, for when you’d rather not give Amazon access to every single word you say while driving.
As a charger, the Roav VIVA performs about as well as I expected. It features two PowerIQ USB ports, which automatically detects the voltage (between 5-12V) and amperage (between 1-2.4A) of your device and charging it at that speed.
While my V30 didn’t detect it as charging via Quick Charge 3.0, the estimated time to take my phone from 74% to 100% (56 minutes via PowerIQ vs 50 minutes for QC3.0) was pretty similar.
But the real selling point here is the VIVA’s on-board Alexa. It essentially uses your phone’s Data to do anything Alexa can do, including communicating with your Smart home devices; unlock your door, turn on your A/C, start up your Roomba… now, your phone can already do any of that, but the Anker Roav VIVA will let you do it while driving – safely.
While many cars on the road have some kind of voice control, Alexa adds a layer of (artificial) humanity to what is often a cumbersome experience. With over 15,000 recognized commands, and the ability to create custom ones, the possibilities are pretty extensive. From Home Automation to ordering, music, sports and communication, Alexa – and its Google/Apple counterparts) – is the future.
At $59.99, the Anker Roav VIVA is expensive for a car charger. But for an Alexa speaker, it’s right on the money. The Amazon Echo Dot retails for $49.99 as well, though you can find it for as low as $34.99 often enough.
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While the Roav VIVA doesn’t have the same speaker power as an Echo Dot, it does offer mobility and charging solutions, which the Dot does not. As such, the Roav VIVA is a decent price-point, though not the door-busting bargain we’re used to seeing from Anker.