Roav VIVA Vehicle Integrated Voice Assistant REVIEW Amazon Alexa in your car
For the longest time, I didn’t want anything to do with voice assistants other than Siri. If it was outside the Apple ecosystem, I didn’t want it. Over the past year, I let my guard down on that a bit and found that Amazon Alexa has become a strong Smart Home partner for Siri and a great compliment to my HomeKit environment. Now, I have HomeKit/Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home all tied into my smart home products and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only hardship with these products comes when I leave the house. I have a stereo that is compatible with CarPlay, but unfortunately, the Home app isn’t one of the apps available on the CarPlay interface. Therefore, I can’t control my home devices from my car. Fortunately, Anker has recently released the Roav VIVA, a vehicle integrated voice assistant. It is, in fact, the world’s Alexa enabled car charger.
As I mentioned, the Roav VIVA’s claim to fame is that it’s an Amazon Alexa assistant that plugs right into your car. The charger part takes advantage of Anker’s charging technology and allows you to simultaneously charge 2 devices at once — at full speed. There is a dedicated app that provides you a connection to all of Alexa’s features through your data network. Because you have control of Alexa, you can access all of its 25,000+ Alexa skills in any vehicle. In addition to the Alexa features, you also have the ability to enjoy 100% hands-free calling and music services supported by Alexa. With the Roav VIVA you can enjoy the same convenience that you do with the Echo Dot, but in about 1/4 the size. The device has 290 components incorporated to enable Alexa support, Bluetooth connectivity, and noise-reduction technologies that ensure that VIVA hears every word. VIVA is designed to perform well in any environment — even extreme temperatures.
The first thing I noticed was, of course, the packaging. The Roav VIVA comes in an impressive open-book style box with an outer sleeve. The outer sleeve features Roav’s brand colors (orange and white), a photo of the product, and several details of the product. On the front of the box is a “Made for iPhone” stamp of approval from Apple. When you open the box, you will find the VIVA laying in a section of sculpted foam for protection for the device. The VIVA is a one-piece device. There are no cables or accessories to worry about. You simply plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter socket and start the engine to provide power to it. There is some paperwork included in the box with the Viva. These papers include a customer service satisfaction notice, Roav VIVA Skills Cards, the owner’s manual, and a quick start guide.
Once the VIVA is plugged into your car and the ignition is turned on, you will want to make sure you have the app downloaded. You will connect to it via Bluetooth and will be prompted to connect to a device that is labeled as “Roav VIVA_XXXX”. From there, you will follow the on-screen instructions provided by the app to finalize connection to your car. Now, it’s important to note that in order for Alexa to broadcast its audio through your car, you will need to have a Bluetooth capable car. For example, my truck has a Bluetooth capable stereo installed. Therefore, my phone connects to it and the VIVA connects to my phone. My fiance, however, does not have a Bluetooth stereo. She has a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into her Aux port and this method can work, but I recommend using a Bluetooth compatible stereo for the best connection.
Once you are completely connected, you can start using Alexa as you would at home. VIVA is using your phone’s data connection to communicate with Amazon Alexa services. This is important to note because if you are using your phone’s navigation services and the VIVA AND streaming music, you can use up your data very quickly. Be sure that you are aware of your data limits before diving in head first with the VIVA. That said, the operation of the VIVA is quite easy. I was impressed with how well the connection was between my data and the device. You can activate the VIVA one of two ways — press the multifunction button or say “Alexa” to wake it up from an idle mode. VIVA was very responsive for me while I was driving around town. Again, since its Internet connection is dependant on your phone’s signal, I could see this responsiveness decrease if you were in a low-signal area.
One thing I did want to make mention of is that if you wear Bluetooth connected hearing aids, the VIVA gets a bit confused. When I was driving with my hearing aids in, I was not able to hear or talk to Alexa. I was able to get it to work with my radio and phone at one point while I was also wearing my hearing aids, but I honestly am not sure how it happened since I haven’t been able to duplicate the process since. I believe it is a setting within my car stereo and I haven’t been able to find it again. So, in order for me to use VIVA unencumbered, I would have to remove my hearing aids.
Even though Siri is still my main method of communication while I’m in my vehicle, I really enjoy having Amazon Alexa in my co-pilot seat at times. The design of the device is awesome — I love that they incorporated two high-speed USB-A ports for charging devices — and how easy it is to set up. I had very few problems with VIVA’s operations. In fact, the only real issue I had was that it wasn’t connecting properly after it had been disconnected from my vehicle after a longer period of time. Even though it has a simple design, you are still completely connected through the Roav VIVA app and you will always know the status of the VIVA by its advanced LED indicator (full list of indications in the owner’s manual). At a very competitive price of around $40 USD, I think this is a great add-on for anyone looking to increase their driving experience and make their vehicle just a little smarter.
Originally published at macsources.com on April 18, 2018.