Hands-On With Anker's Alexa-Enabled Roav Viva Car Kit - CES 2018

Anker took to the latest iteration of the Consumer Electronics Show to unveil a wide variety of new products, including the Roav Viva, a Bluetooth car kit designed to bring the capabilities of Amazon's Alexa into vehicles manufactured long before artificial intelligence assistants became a thing. You still won't be able to use it in a particularly old model but anything released over the course of the current decade that supports wireless audio streaming should work just fine. After the Roav Viva has been plugged into the 12-volt port of your car, you'll be able to start using it as a mobile Echo speaker of sorts that can take advantage of your vehicle's speaker system. The units showcased at CES 2018 worked rather well and largely managed to deliver on their promise of plug-and-play functionality, so if you're worried about complicated setups, you shouldn't be; just plug the Roav Viva into its port, connect it to your car's Bluetooth, and then make sure your smartphone is on the same network.

The Roav Viva can be used to summon Alexa just by saying the assistant's name, as is the case with other products that support Amazon's digital helper. The AI functionalities of the service don't differ too much from what Alexa-enabled smart speakers are offering, with the Roav Viva allowing you to control your music, ask for directions, news, and make phone calls just by using your voice. The biggest limitation of the device is that it still relies on your smartphone to a large degree and can't control vehicle infotainment systems, making its use cases somewhat limited. The gadget is equipped with two microphones with noise cancellation capabilities and an LED ring capable of displaying multiple colors which communicate the status of Alexa.

Consumers concerned about the privacy implications of always-listening technologies are also able to use the mute button of the device to prevent Alexa from scanning for its trigger phrase when they don't want it to. The Roav Viva works over Bluetooth 4.0 and is a relatively sleek-looking device that will easily blend with the design of any car console, even though it isn't meant to be inconspicuous, hence its bright LED ring. All things considered, this may not be a must-have gadget unless you own a car with a Bluetooth-enabled but largely obsolete infotainment system and are already invested into Amazon's AI ecosystem, yet its target audience should find it to be incredibly useful and intuitive, so long as they aren't expecting a fully integrated Alexa experience.

With a recommended price of $50, the Roav Viva may prove to a solid purchase for tech aficionados who can't afford to buy a new car just because they want one with support for a digital assistant. The gadget itself will soon be up for pre-orders on Amazon and while it's also meant to be released outside of the United States, its currently unclear whether its availability will be expanded during the current quarter or if Anker is only planning an international launch later this year.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]