Review and Test Report: Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa 2.0

By Paul Riegler on 3 July 2017
  • Share

If you’ve heard of Amazon’s Alexa and been curious to test-drive the voice-driven service, the company now offers an Alexa device that is essentially free for the taking.

The Amazon Dash Wand is a small (5.6” x 1.2” x 0.8” or 142 x 30.5 x 20.3 mm) handheld device that includes a speaker, microphone, and barcode scanner. Alexa, which is also the voice service in the Amazon Echo, powers it, albeit with a scaled down version with some limitations.

While it has a purchase price of $20, it includes a $20 credit towards purchases at Amazon.com. Mine came with a three-month subscription to Amazon Fresh but that offer doesn’t appear to be available at the time of publication.

Installation is simple once you get past putting the batteries in. The instructions say to insert the two batteries but do not provide specifics as to how to access the battery compartment (pull the top and bottom away from each other to accomplish this). Once the batteries are in, go to the Dash Wand setup website on your smartphone (it supports Apple iOS and Android devices) and you should be up and running in a matter of minutes.

The Dash Wand is magnetic, which makes it easy to place on surfaces in the kitchen and it also includes a hook for hanging.

I was surprised to learn it is not rechargeable but runs on two AAA batteries. It’s too soon to comment on battery life but, then again, Amazon does sell batteries so you can always tell the device to order some more for itself.

What the Dash Wand does well is two-fold: scanning barcodes to order more goodies from Amazon and providing answers to questions including converting units of measurement via Alexa. For these tasks, the Dash Wand performed quite well. I was, however, surprised that there were no alarm or timer features, given that this device is intended to live in one’s kitchen. It also can’t stream music, although given the tiny speaker, I’m certain I would not want it to. It does support traffic and weather information.

If you have Alexa-compatible smart home devices, you can turn them on and off, set the room temperature, and lock the front door. My house is set up with Apple Homekit and I didn’t want to add a new protocol into the mix just for testing purposes but others have told me it works well in this regard.

The Wand Dash’s prime function, barcode scanning, worked well and never failed to recognize a barcode. Voice ordering worked equally well although the system doesn’t handle generic requests such as “paper towels” or “laundry detergent” based on your order history and one needs to specify the brand.

There is one major caveat buyers should keep in mind: it’s very easy to overpay for an item, although this is more of an Amazon problem than a Dash Wand-specific issue. The Dash Wand, however, exacerbates the problem because the user doesn’t see the price of the item when adding it, versus the visual confirmation on the company’s website.

BOTTOM LINE

Despite certain limitations (which Amazon could presumably rectify in future software versions), the Dash Wand is convenient and easy to use and is free. If you are curious about Alexa and want to dip your toes into the Alexa environment, this is an excellent way to do so.

$20 (with $20 Amazon store credit) at www.amazon.com

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

Read previous post:
Laptop Ban Ends for Etihad Flights out of Abu Dhabi

Passengers traveling from Abu Dhabi International Airport are once again permitted to take their large personal electronic devices, including laptops,...

Close