What's the big deal about Dash

What the Amazon Dash Wand can (and can't)

The Amazon Dash Wand is a $ 20 dongle-like device that is marketed as the definitive kitchen helper. It can do grocery shopping for you and is equipped with Alexa. This makes it the cheapest Alexa device Amazon sells (especially when you factor in the fact that it's practically free after the $ 20 credit you get when you buy it). However, there are many things it cannot do. Here's a quick rundown of what the wand can and can't do.

It can control your smart home devices

CONNECTED:The Amazon echo makes smart homes worthwhile

Outside the kitchen, controlling yourmarthome appliances are probably the best use for the dash wall. It's like having a little voice remote that you can take with you around the house, especially when echoes aren't scattered all over the place.

You can use it to control lights, thermostats, sockets, switches, and more. You use them like your Echo by commanding Alexa to turn a device in your house on and off.

You can ask general questions

What's the weather like? What's on my calendar? How old is tom hanks These are all simple questions you can ask Alexa through the Dash Wand that will give you the answers you're looking for.

CONNECTED:Six ways in which the Amazon Echo makes the perfect kitchen companion

You can even use it to convert various measurements, such as: B. cups to gallons, ounces to cups, and more.

You can order products from Amazon

The Dash Wand is designed as a shopping list, you can order items by either entering a product name into the microphone or by scanning the product's barcode. From there, you can use Amazon Fresh to have those groceries delivered right to your door when you have the service near you.

CONNECTED:How to order almost anything on Amazon with the Amazon Echo

To no surprise, you can also use the Dash Wand to order pretty much anything Amazon sells, just like you would with a regular Echo device. All you have to do is say "buy toilet paper". First, your order history will be searched for previous toilet paper purchases and you will be asked if you would like to reorder the same type. Otherwise, other options are listed.

It's not hands-free

CONNECTED:Do I need an Amazon Echo to use Alexa?

Unfortunately, the Dash Wand's Alexa features have some pretty major limitations. Most importantly, you can't use it hands-free like other Alexa products.

In order for Alexa to listen, you have to wait and click the button while saying your command, similar to how the Amazon Tap worked hands-free before the update. This isn't a big deal as it is a device that fits in your pocket and is very easy to carry around, but it may take some getting used to.

It cannot play music

While the Dash Wand has a built-in speaker, the device cannot be used as such, so to speak. This means you won't be able to play music, podcasts, or flash instructions on the Dash Wand itself.

Thankfully, this isn't a really big problem since the speaker is pretty terrible - even worse than the Echo Dot's. It's still something you should know, though, because if you ask Alexa on the Dash Wand what to do, she'll strangely say she can play music.

You cannot set timers, alarms, or reminders

CONNECTED:How to set alarms and timers on your Amazon Echo

It's a pretty basic task that such a simple little device can easily do, but the Dash Wand can't set timers, alarms, and reminders like an Amazon Echo.

At first it doesn't make a lot of sense, but after Alexa knew she had to wake herself up to set off an alarm or timer, it starts to get logical. Alexa can only be woken up by pressing the button on the Dash Wand, so alarms, timers and reminders just don't work on the device. Leave this to the Echo.

The volume cannot be changed

Oddly enough, even if you say something like "lower the volume", you can't change the volume on the Dash Wand.

It's a minor caveat that many users wouldn't really mind, but there's no doubt that Amazon has set the volume for the Dash Wand as high as the built-in speaker allows.

You cannot use the calling, messaging, or drop-in functions

CONNECTED:Here's how to call and message friends using your Amazon Echo

The latest Alexa features are calling, messaging, and drop-in, which allows you to chat with other Alexa users through Echo devices or the Alexa app.

However, the Dash Wand is exempt from these new features. Again, this is useful if you have to hold down the key to speak. This is not particularly practical.

In the end, Amazon is touting the Alexa, the Dash Wand's capabilities are still pretty limited. It's not exactly the full-fledged Alexa device you were hoping for. However, for $ 20 (and that $ 20 will be returned to you after you register the device), you can't go wrong.

Photo credit: Mike Seyfang / Flickr.