Roav VIVA by Anker
Having Alexa in your car is a relatively cheap reality now. The Roav VIVA’s ‘Alexa’ function needs a bit more polish, but it’s very good. However, it fails as a charger.
User Review( votes)
We’re a household heavily invested in the Amazon Echo (Alexa) ecosystem in this household. When I saw the Roav VIVA which is an Alexa for your car – I was excited to give it a try. The Roav VIVA is made by Anker, whose phone chargers and charging cables I swear by. I was expecting a quality product with excellent customer support – how did the Roav VIVA fare? Well, read on…
Unboxing the Roav VIVA
Like all Anker products, the Roav VIVA is nicely packaged. Unfolding the front of the box reveals the Roav VIVA. It’s a relatively small product that pushes into the 12v socket of your car. Underneath are two USB sockets that you can use to charge your phone. Around the front of the device is a large ‘mute’ button which is surrounded by an LED ‘ring’ (similar to the ring on Amazon Echo devices.
How does the Roav VIVA work?
The Roav VIVA is unlike standard Echo devices – the Roav requires you to install and run the companion app on either your Android or iOS phone. When you run the Roav VIVA app for the first time, it pairs via Bluetooth to the Roav VIVA unit. It then asks you a few questions about how the audio on your phone is connected to the car (via Bluetooth or AUX Cable). You log in to your Amazon account so it’s all linked to your other Alexa devices and skills. You can then select your preferred Navigation app (Google Maps or Waze). You’re then ready to rock!
In short the Roav VIVA listens to the ‘Alexa’ trigger word and your request. It’s then sent to the app (via Bluetooth) and off to the Amazon servers for processing. It will use the phone’s data connection for this and any other requests that need data (such as listening to music). I was slightly concerned that the fact the Roav VIVA has to pass the instructions to the app, and then out into the internet (and back again). Thankfully those concerns were unfounded, it’s certainly not as snappy as the ‘home’ Amazon Echo devices, but it’s not terrible. You are at the mercy at of your phone’s data connection. If you’re without signal – it won’t work.
Does the Roav VIVA work exactly like a normal Amazon Echo?
Yes – pretty much. There are a few limitations. Firstly it only supports Amazon Music for music playback. Spotify support is coming, but unless you’re an Amazon Music subscriber you’re a little stuck. James was a little miffed he could only hear a snippet of ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran. I could control all of my smart home gear with the Roav VIVA. Which meant I could get Alexa to switch on the heating via Nest as I drove home, and turn on the Hue lights as I arrived home.
You can’t make calls via Alexa, or ‘Drop In’ to Alexa devices. However, you can use the Roav VIVA to make phone calls on your phone and it works very well. You can also fire up your chosen navigation app and navigate you to where you want to go. “Alexa Navigate me Home” worked perfectly every time. Asking for specific road names or places didn’t always work as expected.
So the Roav VIVA sounds pretty good? Is it worth getting?
It is pretty good – the speech recognition, even in my noisy old car was pretty good. The ‘Alexa’ wake word was heard around 95% of the time. Plus once the car was started and the Roav VIVA was powered up it connected to the companion app on my phone very quickly. I did miss having Spotify on the Roav VIVA and the promise of it ‘Coming Soon’ is great – but.. WHEN?
My Roav VIVA went back to Anker though for one simple reason. It wasn’t great at charging my phone when it was connected to the Roav VIVA. It has ‘Power IQ’ which is said to ‘deliver blazing charging speeds to both driver and passenger’. It doesn’t though – most Android phones use ‘Qualcomm Quick Charge’ which allows your handset to ‘Fast Charge’.
My Anker Car Charger that I normally have plugged into the 12v socket supports Qualcomm Quick Charge and will charge my Samsung Note 9 very quickly. However the Roav VIVA is just seen as a standard charger by the phone. If your phone is doing stuff, like running Google Maps and streaming music, it really needs the facility to charge quickly. I found that even after a long journey my phone had only gained a few percent.
I messaged Anker and they confirmed that Quick Charge wasn’t supported ‘at the moment’. If you’re an iPhone user then the ‘Power IQ’ might adequately charge your phone and have navigation running and music streaming.
Bottom line is, if the Roav VIVA supported Quick Charge it would be a fantastic device. Having Alexa in your car is a relatively cheap reality now. The Roav VIVA’s ‘Alexa’ function needs a bit more polish, but it’s very good. However, it fails as a charger. I need my car charger to work well, and quickly, however the Roav VIVA doesn’t. It felt pointless keeping the Roav VIVA in the one 12v socket I have at the front of my car. If you want Alexa for your car, then this is a good start, but if you want it to charge your phone too – it might be worth waiting for the next generation.