As with every CES, all sorts of sexy gadgetry parades about the various show venues. And, while I wasn’t in attendance this year, you can bet I was obsessively ingesting of the tech blog coverage and press release fire hose. While some swooned over recycled approaches that are unlikely to move markets and televisions only corporate entities could entertain, I found myself smitten with an inexpensive Anker accessory.
The Internet of Everything seemed to be the overarching theme this year, with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant garnering much attention through all sorts of integrations. Yeah, many of these are superfluous with a number of open questions regarding security, privacy, and reliability. But, but gadgets! As such, the $50 Anker Roav VIVA caught my eye. It’s cheap, fun, and … shipping next month — something you can’t say about so many CES unveilings. No, I don’t need Alexa in my car. But that didn’t stop me from driving around with an Echo Dot like Alan Wolk. In many ways, Alexa is largely inferior to the native Android or iPhone voice assistants as an automative communicator (think text messaging and navigation). Yet, Alexa is so much better with random queries and sports a humgo list of skills (and my daughter loves calling Elmo).
The Roav Viva is relatively simple, and one might mistake for a simple car charger. However, it includes two mics, a mute button, and Alexa’s signature light bar. Data connectivity is provided via our smartphones and audio output is routed over Bluetooth through the car’s speakers. They’re also touting Alexa voice navigation, but I’m not quite sure how that works yet. Bonus: Two fast-charging USB ports. Sadly, my “cigarette lighter” resides within my center console and under a lid, so I just don’t see how this can work. *sniff sniff* While Garmin offers somewhat similar products, I’m just not interested at $120 – $200 despite the small display, Garmin navigation (!), and more flexible positioning… that requires running a the power cable down, around, or under your dash.