Archive for the ‘Alexa’ Category

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

June 15, 2017

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

I want Alexa everywhere!

Amazon’s digital assistant is like Iron Man’s Jarvis…and it does more and better than the original Star Trek’s computer on the Enterprise.

Well, on the latter, the computer’s abilities weren’t always the same…but it took quite a while to look up something (and we could hear relays closing), and it couldn’t interact with the ship much. If it could, Kirk would be saying, “Computer, fire photon torpedoes”…or perhaps, “Computer, open ‘Battle Time’ skill!” and letting it manage everything. Oh, wait, they tried that…right, Dr. Daystrom? 😉

I have it on our Echoes (Dot and original). I have it on my Tap I take to work. I have it on our Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. I have it on my Galaxy S7 (as part of the Amazon shopping app) and my work iPhone (again, through the app).

When I don’t have Alexa available, I know it…sometimes, I really want to ask Alexa something, even when that’s not an option.

You can get Alexa for free (if you own a compatible SmartPhone with that shopping app), but the least expensive hardware option from Amazon to date has been the

Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for $39.99, although the

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

currently matches that price, because of a

Big sale on some Kindles and Echoes

Amazon just introducde a $20 option…and

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

members get a limited $20 credit when they purchase some things, so it’s cost neutral. Details on that here:

For a limited time, receive a $20 promotional credit when you register your Amazon Dash Wand with your Amazon Prime account (at AmazonSmile*)

Now, this isn’t part of the Echo family: it explicitly says it won’t play music.

I’m checking to see if it will read text-to-speech enabled Kindle books: I can see it as a handy bedside item.

That’s not what it’s designed to do, though: it’s designed for shopping. You can magnetically stick it to your refrigerator (the Echo voice remote used to (and may still…I’ll have to check) come with a magnetic cradle, but this is magnetic itself).

You can ask it to order things for you…and it can also scan barcodes to order things. That’s one of the big things for Artificial Intelligence in the future: how can it sense the world? For years, we’ve been the sensory apparatus for our computers…we would have to tell them what was going on in the real world, from punch cards to keyboards to mice to touch. That’s sort of like our relationship to dogs. 😉 Dogs have better sensory apparatus, and we do more of the cognitive work. AI/computers can do some specific types of “mental activity” better than we can (recall of specific data, but increasingly, predictive tasks and other things…an AI just got a perfect score on Ms. Pac-Man, something no human had done before), but most are pretty limited on the kinds of generalized perception humans can do. While we can’t smell things like a dog or use echolocation like a dolphin (although some humans have shown they can use it to some extent), we actually see and hear pretty well…and process the data very efficiently (if imperfectly).

The ADW (Amazon Dash Wand) has an “eye” for scanning.

It will do some Alexa tasks: it will answer questions and control your smart home. By the way, if it really sounds like it does in the video on the product page, it’s much better than the Dot.

Now, I do have to say: the product page is sorely lacking. I’m asking questions, but for example, it doesn’t list what powers it. Is it a replaceable battery? Do you charge it? On another topic, can it Bluetooth (I don’t think so)?

You also get 3 months of a normally $14.99 a month Amazon Fresh membership…I’ll have to see if that is automatic renewal or not.

Overall, it’s a very intriguing item, and I am ordering one.

Update: here is the direct link Amazon Dash Wand (a href=””>at AmazonSmile*)

What do you think? Are you going to get one? If you are not a Prime member, would you pay for it? 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! :) 

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