Amazon Dash Wand Barcode Scanner Launched With Built-In Alexa

Amazon has launched a new version of its Dash barcode scanning device for Prime U.S. subscribers that includes the company's ubiquitous virtual assistant built in.

Called the Dash Wand, the Alexa-enabled gadget allows users to scan grocery barcodes, convert measurements, and order essential household items from Amazon with the click of a button.


Pressing the button activates the Dash Wand, enabling customers to use their voice to ask about recipes and find local restaurants. It's also possible to control smart lighting via the magnetic device, which is designed to be attached to a fridge.

With the original Dash, released in 2014, users could scan barcodes and add items to their shopping cart via limited voice controls, but checkout had to be completed on the Amazon site.


By contrast, the new $20 Dash Wand allows users to buy items directly. Prime subscribers also receive $20 off their next purchase once they've registered the device, so it basically comes free. In addition, buyers get a free 90-day trial of the AmazonFresh home grocery service.


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Amazon Unveils Curated TV Subscriptions Strategy with ‘Anime Strike’ Prime Channel

Amazon launched Anime Strike this week, the company's first self-branded content to appear under its Channels subscriptions program for Prime members.

Anime Strike offers U.S. Prime members access to over 1,000 anime TV shows and movies for an extra $4.99 per month on top of the $99 Prime subscription. Amazon says the channel will serve up seinen classics as well as weekly anime exclusives from Japan. A seven-day free trial lets Prime members check out the channel, which features "The Great Passage", "Scum's Wish, and "Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga", as well as anime classics like "Paprika" and "Tokyo Godfathers".

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Amazon's existing add-on video subscription services include channels such as HBO, Comedy Central’s Stand-Up Plus, and Cinemax, but Anime Strike is the company's first own-branded, curated offering. Speaking to Variety, Amazon said it plans to launch additional branded subscription VOD channels in the coming months.

The move indicates intensifying competition among streaming services, with a wider range of exclusive content becoming increasingly necessary if companies are to fend off rival offerings. Back in November, sources claimed Apple was considering a price drop for Apple Music in time for the holiday period, with Amazon cited as the "biggest motivation" for the discussions over monthly pricing. However, the service's $9.99 price tag remains in place, and with reports this week that Apple is planning to create its own original TV shows for Apple Music, more content rather than lower cost appears to be the overriding strategy.

Amazon already serves up original TV content to Prime members through Instant Video, while the company's Amazon Music Unlimited service costs $7.99 per month (or $9.99 per month for non-Prime members). According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon has held talks with a number of sports leagues including the NFL and NBA about obtaining live game rights, with a view to either including a sports package as part of its Prime membership or offering it as a paid add-on.

In July of last year, Amazon U.S. was estimated to have 63 million Prime members – more than half the online retailer's customer base.


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