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- I collect older cars, and as much as I love them, I’ve always wanted the modern tech features found in newer models.
- Instead of investing in expensive built-ins, I got the Anker Roav Viva Pro ($69.99), an Alexa-enabled smart charger that uses voice commands to make calls, get directions, play music, stream audiobooks, and control smart devices.
- I installed the Anker Roav Viva Pro in my 1991 BMW 318is and it completely upgraded my outdated car. Plus, the USB charging ports work extremely well.
- Even if your car is new and equipped with an immersive infotainment system, this is a great tool to bring Alexa on the road.
I have a real passion for classic cars. Having never owned a car newer than 1993 by choice, I personally think that cars of the late 80s and early 90s are better looking, more conversational, and more fun to drive.
But the nostalgia and enjoyment of owning an older car can quickly fade away when you enter the cockpit and are instantly reminded of how out outdated the included technology is — especially when every other aspect of your life is filled with smart devices, music streamers, voice assistants, and other modern amenities. I’m sure anyone with a slightly outdated car can relate.
I used to get jealous of the tech features most modern cars come equipped with, and was often tempted to fully upgrade, but I resisted with the justification that a minimally-equipped interior was a mere trade-off for owning a car I liked much more. However, the tipping point for upgrading my car’s tech actually came from a device I recently incorporated into my home: the Echo Dot.
I bought the third generation Echo Dot a few months ago and it’s been the best tech upgrade I’ve made in a long time. In just a short period of time, I’ve used it to ask Alexa for plenty of things — from getting the news and weather to playing music and setting reminders — and I wanted to have similar access to those features while in my car, so I decided to give the Anker Roav Viva Pro a try.
The Anker Roav Viva Pro is an Alexa-enabled smart device that plugs into your car’s 12-volt socket/cigarette lighter. Using the power of Alexa, you can ask for directions, stream music, listen to audio books, control smart home devices, make hands-free calls, and take advantage of thousands of other skills. It also doubles as a car charger with two high-speed USB ports on the side.
How to set it up:
The first step is to turn your car on and plug it in. Next, you’ll need to download the Roav Viva app on the App Store or Google Play. From there, you can sign into your Amazon account and select your preferred method of pairing it to your car radio. You’ll have three choices: Bluetooth, 35mm auxiliary, and FM tuner.
I have since upgraded to a newer radio head unit from the cassette radio that originally came in my car, so I chose the Bluetooth method. Just make sure you pair the Anker Roav Viva Pro through the app, not your smartphone’s Bluetooth settings, and it’ll be ready to go.
For the sake of testing, I also tried the FM tuner method since anyone with a working radio, no matter how old, can use this method. All you have to do is scan through your FM tuner and find a frequency with dead air space. Then in the app, set the Anker Roav Viva Pro to that same frequency. It worked without any issues for me, but just like all things dealing with radio frequencies, it has the potential to be spotty. Variables like your car antenna’s signal strength and interfering frequencies with other transmissions are factors in how clear and consistent your connection will be. If you have the option to pair via Bluetooth or aux, choose either one for a more reliable connection.
Using the Anker Roav Viva Pro for the basics:
In my opinion, the most important feature of the Anker Roav Viva Pro is its ability to use voice commands to safely complete tasks that would otherwise be done on your smartphone: finding directions and making phone calls.
You should never take your attention off the road to type in an address, but drivers do it all the time. With the hands-free functionality of the Roav Viva Pro, that’s no longer an issue. Anker Roav Viva has access to Google Maps, Waze, and your smartphone’s standard service like Apple Maps. You can ask for directions to a specific place or say something as simple as "Alexa, where’s the nearest gas station?" and it will automatically search for it in your preferred app.
You can also use the Anker Roav Viva Pro for hands-free calling. If you opted to link your contacts during the set-up process, just ask Alexa to call anyone stored in your phone. Lately, I’ve been using and loving the Scooch Wingman, an iPhone case I recently reviewed that features a built-in dash mount, and combined with the Anker device, I’m now able to drive completely hands-free.
Although most drivers get away with using their phone while driving, it’s dangerous and a potentially very expensive ticket if caught. Between steering my car and shifting gears, I almost never use my phone while in motion, but for those that do, let the Anker Roav Viva Pro help you break those habits. If you were to buy the Anker Roav Viva Pro strictly for the hands-free usage and it saves you from one ticket, it’s worth it — even at $69.99.
As for music, you can ask Alexa to play your favorite artists, genres, or specific songs. It supports apps like Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, and Tune-In Radio, but Apple Music and Spotify are currently not supported. As an Apple Music subscriber myself, I understand that could be disappointing for people who use an unsupported app, but with all the other benefits that the Anker Roav Viva Pro offers, it’s an easy decision to make the switch to Amazon Music.
Taking advantage of Alexa in other ways:
If you already own an Echo device, using the Anker Roav Viva Pro for other skills should be second nature. Audiobooks, timers, weather updates, games like Jeopardy, controlling smart home devices, and much more are all available. Whether you want to ask Alexa to place an order on Amazon, order your favorite pizza, or to do something more pragmatic like open your garage door and turn on the lights as you’re pulling into the driveway, it’s completely doable. I’m personally not (yet) at the level of reliance on Alexa where it does everything for me, but I did ask to turn on my home air purifier and it worked seamlessly. People with a fully integrated smart home will get a lot more use out of Alexa in this regard.
The bottom line:
I really like the Anker Roav Viva Pro because everything from the setup process to putting it into everyday use is easy. Sure, I don’t have a huge touch-screen infotainment system built into car’s interior, but with many of the same functions as a brand new car, I don’t need one. Compared to similar devices that need to be mounted on the dash with wires running to them, the Roav Viva Pro is small and unobtrusive. Just as easy as I can plug it in, I can also uninstall it. I’d rather not leave it in the cigarette lighter when my car is parked, so I regularly take it out. It’s also great for using in other cars without hassle.
The two USB chargers are another simple, yet extremely useful feature. I no longer have to share the single charge port on my radio face with my passenger. I think we’ve all experienced car chargers so weak that they merely keep your phone on, rather than actually charging the battery, but that is not the case here. The Roav Viva Pro delivers a fast charge.
If you’re clinging onto a classic car like myself, your mid-2000s model is just slightly outdated, or you can’t live without Alexa even in your brand new ride, the Anker Roav Viva Pro is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
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