Amazon Dash Wand: first impressions

Amazon Dash Wand: first impressions

Well, that got here quickly!

I just wrote yesterday about the

Least expensive Alexa hardware so far: Amazon Dash Wand…free (sort of) for Prime members

and it arrived today!

It feels fully baked…I was impressed with the execution! Some Amazon hardware has seemed like it was rushed to market, but not the ADW.

The packaging was great: elegant, and clear. They don’t tell you this on the product page (that could have used work), but it comes with the batteries you need.

Putting the batteries in was simple. Setting it up was really simple! I didn’t need to download an app, just go to a website on my phone. I didn’t even have to enter a wi-fi password, since Amazon is storing those for me. I also didn’t have to put in a username and password (my phone already knows that…maybe this works because I have the Amazon shopping app on my phone).

I checked: it wouldn’t read me a Kindle book. It did answer weather questions and the time…and it does sound much better than our

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You hold down a button to talk to it, or to scan.

Interestingly, it didn’t find something when we asked for it…it even told us that Amazon didn’t have the one we had ordered before (which impressed me…that it said we had ordered it before).

However, when I scanned it, it did show up in our cart!

At this point, there is a tweak I would make. It didn’t tell me that something had been successfully scanned…it wouldn’t have to do that with words, just a reassuring tone would work.

The magnet to put it on the fridge seemed to have the right amount of strength. It also comes with a hook, so you could hang it.

This would work well as a guest device…our Tap could work for that, too, but this is quite elegant. They could pick up the wand and ask Alexa to turn on the light. 🙂 That did work, by the way. I should say that it seemed to take longer to think than our Echo devices, but it wasn’t bad.

My verdict at this point: I think it’s a winner! 😉

One other quick note: Amazon may be buying Whole Foods…

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 


14 Responses to “Amazon Dash Wand: first impressions”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    It’s not a “may” — it’s all over the mainstream and tech news: Amazon is definitely buying Whole Foods. Kroger was down 15% a couple of days ago because of poor financials, after this story broke it was down a further 5%. Walmart is also down. The WSJ opines that this is more about getting access to Whole Food’s distribution network than it is about the 460ish stores.

    One oddity to me: the whole organic/health food business commands very high margins (I think Whole Food’s gross margins are in excess of 30%); yet Amazon’s retail business has always been a relatively low margin one.

    I wonder how this dichotomy will play out?(:grin)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Intentions do not a reality make. 🙂 There is no debate that they are offering to buy Whole Foods. The purchase will need to be approved, and it’s possible other suitors will make offers. Neither of them seem to be big obstacles to me, but they exist. To keep this analogy from being a spoiler, I’ll say the Warriors intended to win more than half of their basketball games this season. At the beginning of the season, that seemed very, very likely, but it hadn’t happened at that point. Amazon has definitely offered to buy WFM (and the stock market has been profoundly affected by this supermarket move), but it isn’t yet a reality.

      WFM has been experimenting with lower price stores, and Amazon can help there. Amazon can also bring some innovations which could lower prices, and be cool (checkoutless stores would appeal to WFM customers, I think…as would robots taking the food to your car)…but I’m also very interested in what else they put in the stores. They may add non-food items, and they may simply use the physical facilities as staging areas, in addition to being stores.

  2. Karen Salmons Says:

    Wow, how cool is this thing?! I had to upgrade my shopping app, which it told me to do, before setup but soon had it and as you said setup was so easy. I do have to confess that I wasn’t as quick as you to figure out how to put in the batteries. I had to study it for a minute before taking the chance and pulling it apart. As usual, I didn’t pull the instructions out of the box. 😀 I don’t have access to Amazon Fresh so just asked it for Angelsoft Toilet Tissue. It said based on previous orders it found 48 rolls for $21 plus change, asked if I wanted to order, I said yes and forgot about the $20 rebate till it said my order was confirmed for $2.08. It is a little larger than I expected which I think makes it feel more substantial than I thought it might be. With an Echo, 2 Dots, a Tap, a Fire tablet and Fire TV I’m thinking that I probably didn’t need it but oh so nice to have Alexa in the kitchen and this time for free! Couldn’t pass it up. Now waiting on the Show.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!


      I do read the instructions, which may be part of why it seemed easy to me. I could probably figure out most things on my own, but I do like to see how well the instructions are written…

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Seattle being obliterated by a stray asteroid (taking out both Amazon and Microsoft) has got about the same probability of this deal not being consummated.

    Both boards have approved the deal. Amazon is paying $13.7 billion cash (instead of a share exchange) so shareholders have no say in the deal.

    If I look at other possible ways a deal could be scuppered during due diligence, three come to mind: regulators might intervene on antitrust grounds, Amazon might decide that WFM is not worth the price, or WFM might be concerned about Amazon’s ability to pay.

    As to the first we’re talking about WFM, a blip on the retail grocery scene, and Amazon which doesn’t even register — antitrust is very much a non-starter. WFM’s situation is very much understood, and Amazon is very aware of what they are buying, and the price is small relative to the size of the company.

    As to Amazon being able to pay, one wag remarked that when Amazon’s share price rose 3% on news of the deal, Amazon’s increase in market capitalization rose far more than the price of the deal.

    WFM has been on the block for some time with no takers. Amazon’s premium over the street’s estimated value of WFM leads to a street expectation that no competing offer is likely to arise.

    Better to keep your eyes out for that asteroid (if you live in Seattle :grin) .

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      By the way, I’m considering that asteroid insurance, now. 😉

      Lots of buzz about other possible suitors, even though I think the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of Amazon/WFM.

  4. Joe Bowers Says:

    Good morning, Bufo,
    I am a bit puzzled about something: you have mentioned several times that you think the Echo Dot delivers poor sound, and now you opine that the Dash Wand has better sound than the Dot. I have had the Dot for quite a while, and while it doesn’t sound as good as the Echo original, or the Tap (yeah, Amazon has their hooks deep into me : ) ) I feel the Dot is pretty decent for its size. I have it at my bedside and sometimes fall asleep to music or “ambient sounds.” I just got the Wand this weekend, and I find its sound inferior to the Dot. I realize this is all subjective, but I am wondering if one of us has a defective unit, either your Dot or my Wand! This post doesn’t need to be made “public,” but there is no reason it can’t be. Just curious about your “Dot disappointment.”
    As always, thanks for your informative and helpful (often money-saving) work.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Joe!

      Maybe it’s mine, but I say the Dot sounds like an old transistor radio…sort of scratchy. It doesn’t bother me…I use it quite often, although generally not for music. The voice on the Wand sounds better than the Dot to me. I’m not disappointed in the Dot, because I didn’t have very high expectations for the sound. 🙂 The Dot does seem to process faster…the Wand seems to take a while to think.

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      What I think many forget is that the Dot has an audio out port. I initially had my original Echo in my bedroom (where I spend a lot of time). The sound was great. Then I got 2 Echo Dots. One I put in my office (where I don’t spend so much time now that I’ve retired). The other Dot I put in my bedroom and relocated the Echo to the living room. The Dot in the bedroom uses the audio out port to connect to a Bose SoundLink Color speaker. This speaker has both audio in and Bluetooth connections. With the audio port connection, the Dot sounds better than the original Echo, and the Bluetooth connection lets me route sound from the laptop I keep beside me on my bed. It’s quite a nice solution.

  5. Tom Semple Says:

    One glaring omission from Wand’s Alexa skills is the ability to set a timer (or multiple timers, as Echo will do). Cooking is all about timing, so you would think a device in the kitchen should do this.
    It is also curious that setup cannot be completed with a Fire device. I tried it on my Fire Phone and it took me to Google Play to download the Amazon Store app. But I will be replacing my Fire Phone soon.
    It would be nice as well if you could use it as a ‘remote’ to another Echo. ‘Play Beatles on living room Echo’ for example.

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      It’s curious, but there seems to be a variety of Alexa apps — all with somewhat dissimilar capabilities and device residencies. My original Echo uses an Alexa app that works on the web. Tom needs another version for the Dash that runs on either an iPhone or an Android phone (curiously not Amazon’s own Fire phone, or my Windows phone). Then if you want to setup the Echo Look or Show you need another flavor if you wan to use Alexa calling and messaging.

      I wish Amazon had only one Alexa app that ran everywhere (probably would therefore have to be a Progressive Web App) with a common feature set. This siloing behavior only serves to limit the reach of the various Amazon devices.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        A single app (or at least, a single suite of apps) would have to identify the device type (which should be easy), since they have different capabilities. The Echo Show, Wand, Dot, Echo, Tap, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and SmartPhones clearly have different hardware and software profiles. It would be nice, although it would presumably considerably add to the size of the app.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      The timer thing does seem like a bit of an odd omission, but I wonder if it has to do with it being battery-powered. My guess is that the timer actually works locally (on the device, rather than sending a signal to the cloud which does the time calculating, and then signals back). One reason for that is that when you ask how much time is left, I don’t see any indicator that it is cloud-calling.

      Yeah, they’ve really stopped supporting the Fire Phone…and then never really fully supported it, as far as I was concerned. A Fire Phone was my daily phone for years, and I’d always be surprised at what wasn’t available for it.

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