The Amazon Dash Wand looks pretty simple, but it could be one of the best shopping advancements in quite some time.
The device, which costs just $20, comes with Alexa support, allowing you to ask the virtual assistant information to control your calendar, find information and more. You can also speak to the Dash Wand to order products. For example, you can say, “Alexa, order paper towels.” Or, “Alexa, reorder AA batteries.” You should also know that Amazon is selling its Dash Wand for the same price, regardless of whether you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber or not.
But arguably, the most important Amazon Dash Wand feature is its bar code scanner. The feature allows you to scan the bar code on just about any product in the house and have it immediately added to your Amazon cart. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to process your payment on Amazon or in the app, but the ease-of-use and the millions of products the Wand supports could be a big selling point.
If you’re not sold on whether you should get an Amazon Dash Wand, take a look at what reviewers have to say -- both good and bad.
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
CNET’s Ry Crist was generally pleased with the Amazon Dash Wand, saying that it was “easy to set up and easy to use.” He added that Amazon’s decision to allow third-party app access, providing you smart home controls, was also a welcome feature.
Best of all, the scanner worked well: “We spent a couple of days playing with the Dash Wand at the CNET Smart Home, and it performed pretty well,” Crist said. “The scanner never failed to read a bar code, and if I'd ever scan something a couple of times in quick succession (say, if I wasn't certain it had worked), it'd still only add one unit to my cart. Alexa voice ordering worked well too, though you'll need to specify what brand you want in the Amazon app if you ask for something generic, like "toilet paper."
Crist was disappointed by Alexa’s inability to “stream music, schedule reminders, or set kitchen timers” on the Wand. He also criticized the device for allowing you to add only one item to your cart at a time.
“The Wand added a single item to my shopping list that asked me to specify which kind of ‘strawberries bananas’ I wanted,” Cr
ist said. “Here's hoping Amazon tweaks that in the near future, as ideally, you should be able to read off your whole shopping list to Alexa if you so choose.”
The Verge’s Nilay Patel said the Amazon Dash Wand is “boring in the best way,” since it allows you to simply point its bar code scanner at products and add them to your cart. He also thinks it’s an ideal choice for those who subscribe to Amazon Prime.
“If you’re a Prime member, there’s literally nothing to lose,” he wrote. It’s a fun toy and it certainly makes adding things to your Amazon cart easier. If you’re already using AmazonFresh, it’ll make that easier, too.”
Patel said that, in general, Amazon’s Dash Wand works well on groceries, “but it’s extremely hit-or-miss for everything else.” He also wasn’t too happy with Amazon itself deciding which vendors you’ll buy products from.
Finally, Patel questioned how convenient the Dash Wand really is.
“Once you’ve added everything to your cart, you still have to open the Amazon app on your phone and check out.”
Clare McGrane at GeekWire was similarly pleased by the Dash Wand’s ability to set up. Better yet, once it was set up, McGrane said that the device worked “incredibly smoothly.” But it was the bar code scanner that ultimately made the Dash Wand a standout, McGrane said.
“That feature was so seamless that [Geekwire Editor] Todd [Bishop] initially didn’t think it was even working,” McGrane wrote. “He ended up with dozens of Kind bars in his cart — but because the bar code scanner can’t place an order, it was easy for him to clear things up.”
Ultimately, McGrane wishes that the Dash Wand could actually deliver a “hands-free” service. Instead of being able to activate the Dash Wand with your voice, you need to have it in-hand and press the button on its side. And although it’s designed to work in the kitchen, McGrane doesn’t think the service can be an actual “kitchen aid.”
“The Wand also doesn’t have integration with some basic functions that would make it a useful kitchen aid, namely a timer,” McGrane wrote. “That upgrade could be on its way, but it seems like a no-brainer to include it in a device used in the kitchen, and we were disappointed to find it wasn’t.”
TechHive’s Michael Simon was pleased by the Dash Wand experience. He noted that the home gadget could be one that “finally streamlines the way we buy groceries, and eliminates checkout lines, empty refrigerators, and even trips to the store.” Simon added that the Dash Wand is a “good introduction to Alexa.”
Overall, Simon was far less impressed by the Dash Wand than other reviewers. He said that the Dash Wand is “not quite the magical device it could have been,” and added that the gadget is “built for a future that hasn’t yet arrived.” He was also disappointed by its use of AAA batteries rather than a rechargeable pack.
“It might be cool to show off to your friends or scan items here and there, but mostly it feels like a device that’s simultaneously ahead of and behind its time,” he said.
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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.