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January 2016

Amazon Dash: First Impressions

A couple of days ago I received an email from Amazon that I was now eligible to purchase up to two of their fancy "Dash" ordering buttons. A cool piece of home tech for free? How could I resist? (Technically, you pay $5 for the Dash, but you get it back on the first order you place using it.)

Sadly, despite my enthusiasm, I could only find one Dash I was interested in using. You see, each button is permanently tied to a specific product, and I just don't need to buy some of these things on a repeating basis. I considered getting the Tide button, but Amazon doesn't make it at all clear which type of Tide you can order using it. (And laundry detergent has gotten so complicated!) Eventually I decided to get the Orbit button. Who doesn't like gum?

IMG 0292

Setting up the button was interesting and frustrating. I was surprised to learn that that Dash is Wi-Fi based, so to get it going you use the Amazon app on iPhone to send the network credentials to the button. Amazon has some sort of weird scheme going on where you put the Dash near your phone and the app makes barely-audible clicking noises that are supposed to, apparently, tell the button the SSID and password for your network. This takes well over a minute, and the whole time I was thinking "there is no way this works." It's gratifying to be right.

The fallback method, which the app suggests next, is to join iPhone to a temporary Wi-Fi network emitted by the button. (This is how many other "things" do it, too.) This worked fine, thank you very much.

As an aside, when will Amazon finally support the iOS Keychain in their apps? It's ridiculous that I have to keep entering my Amazon password when there is s native secure storage method on my device.

Next up, I was presented with a list of about 20 different Orbit gum packages I can tie to the button. Ah, the anxiety of having too much choice. This makes me wonder if I should have gotten the Tide button too, but like I said, Amazon doesn't disclose that info before you buy the button, so it would be a leap of faith.

OK, the big moment has arrived. Now it is time to press the button and order some fine chewing gum. I pressed. The Dash blinked its LED blue for a bit, then signaled green. This means, the Dash manual tells me, that my order has been placed. The app said I'd get a notification, too. The notification never arrived. I also did not get a confirmation email from Amazon. Wait, does this thing even work? Checking my account online, yes, an order has been placed. But the nearly complete lack of confirmation is disturbing.

The Dash is undeniably a neat piece of tech. It seems really well made, and it's heavier than I expected. There's not a single port or blemish on it. I'm curious to see how it works with subsequent orders. I better rest up my jaw for a lot chewing so I can reorder.