I have to admit it, my family really loves using smart virtual assistants. Our addiction to these useful smart home gadgets began when my daughter purchased a Google Home for her bedroom. When we heard her using voice commands with the Google Home to play music, get information from the Internet and control her bedroom lights, we knew we had to have one of those gadgets in other parts of the house.
For the next Christmas, she bought me a Google Home Mini for the kitchen. I used it for getting recipes, asking about the weather in the morning, and for listening to tunes while I cooked dinner for the family. There’s nothing like being able to ask the Google assistant for something, hands-free and get what you need. It’s all very Star Trek. Now, we have a touch-screen Google Nest Hub in the kitchen and a Google mini in each bedroom, plus the original Home. My wife keeps saying that all we need now is a voice assistant in our car, and we’d be set. Oddly enough, that’s pretty much when Best Buy asked me to review not one, but two different gadgets that bring the digital convenience of the Alexa and Google assistants to your vehicle. I wonder if they’re listening to me through my gadgets? Regardless, here’s my review of the Roav Bolt & Viva Pro Smart USB Car charger.
What’s in the Roav Bolt & Viva Pro Smart box?
Both USB chargers come in compact boxes with a flap that magnetically adheres it to the box. Inside, you’ll find the unit nestled in its cardboard insert, underneath a sleeve containing the quick start guide and assorted documentation. Also included is an AV jack so you can plug the charger into your car stereo as well. It’s your usual affair, but if I can make one suggestion—the writing on the guides is super tiny. I’m not a senior yet, but holy moly, give people who wear glasses a break. I almost needed to whip out a magnifying glass to read the copy.
Both the Roav Bolt & Viva Pro Smart USB Car charger are about two and a half-inch gizmos, with one rounded end that fits into your lighter socket in your car. Both units are black plastic, with two USB ports accented with orange. The Roav Bolt (that’s the Google Assistant one) features a rounded top-end, with a row of four lights and an indented button. The Viva Pro (that’s the one with Amazon Alexa) has a top end that’s more rounded-rectangular, with a larger indented button in the centre and blue light ringing the perimeter.
How to set up the Roav Bolt & Viva Pro
Both smart gadgets use Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, so they’re really easy to setup. For the Roav Bolt, you need to download the Google Assistant app. For the Roav Viva Pro, it’s the Roav Viva app. Once you go through the setup steps, create the appropriate accounts (why do I have to create an account with every company for every gadget I own?) and if you remembered to turn on your Bluetooth on your smartphone, you should be able to connect to your Roav device… once you plug it into the 12v cigarette lighter in your vehicle, that is. The Viva is also able to connect to your car via FM frequency,
How to use the Roav Bolt & Viva Pro virtual assistants
If you have a smart device or devices in your home that uses a virtual assistant such as the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, then you already have a pretty good idea of how these little doo-hickeys are going to work. Once you have the device paired with the appropriate app on your phone, and it is plugged into your vehicle, you’re ready to hit the road with your own personal virtual assistant. Say the magic word (for the Roav Bolt it’s “Hey Google…” or “Okay Google…”, and for the Roav Viva Pro it’s “Alexa…”) and give a command or ask a question—and your assistant is only too eager to comply.
These two devices are particularly ideal for getting directions while driving, or answering a phone call, or sending a short text message—all hands-free. Just give the keyword to wake your assistant and something like, “…give me directions to the nearest dry cleaners.” If you have your phone mounted on the dash, you can see your map and the route, while your smart assistant tells you where to go. The same goes for listening to your favourite cruising tunes. Give the wake-up word and ask your virtual assistant for a particular song, artist or album, and it will play it from your favourite music service on your smartphone. The indented buttons are for controlling the devices—starting, stopping, answering calls, etc.—
I had no issues using either the Roav Bolt or the Viva Pro. They responded to my voice when I was speaking normally in my vehicle. I’ve read that if your passenger can hear you, then so can these devices. I didn’t notice any discernible lag between asking the assistants to do, or for something, and other than the odd time they didn’t understand what I said because I was either unclear or mumbling, everything worked as you would expect.
And, thanks to the two super-fast USB ports offered on both the Roav Bolt & Viva Pro, you never have to worry about your phone running out of juice before the road trip is over.
Why get the Roav Bolt & Viva Pro?
So, I guess the big question you have is why do you need something like this? “Why wouldn’t you?”, would be my answer-a-question-with-a-question pithy reply. No, seriously. If you like the sheer convenience of having one of these virtual assistants in your home, why not in your car? It is, after all, one of the places you and your family spend most of their time. And, considering that your car is the place where it’s most beneficial and safe to be using things like your phone “hands-free” so you can concentrate on driving and not crashing into a tree, it just seems logical to want to have one of these devices in your vehicle.
Now, if you are going to ask which of the two is better, well, that depends on your own personal taste in a virtual assistant. If you have devices in your home with one or the other, then you should probably stay with what you know. As I said, I have Google Home products throughout my home, so I am used to how it works, the wake phrase and the assistant’s particular robotic voice, so I’d likely pick up the Roav Bolt for my vehicle.
How about you? Would you like to have the Roav Boalt or Roav Viva Pro in your own car? Which would it be? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.