When Amazon first announced its Dash buttons, many of us at Engadget thought they were an April Fools joke. As it turns out, it was just odd timing. Dash is indeed real, and it certainly delivers on its promise to make shopping easier. Let's start at the beginning. To get started, you'll need a Amazon Prime subscription (we don't make the rules). From there, you can browse the dozens of brands that have a Dash button and the collection of products that you'll be able to assign to the device when it arrives. The options range from household cleaning supplies to shampoo and groceries to pet food. In fact, Amazon currently lets you choose from 549 different products that can be ordered with the press of a Dash button, albeit one at a time.
How does the Dash button work, exactly? Well, it connects to your home WiFi network and the Amazon app to handle all of the ordering. When your Dash button(s) are delivered, the Amazon app will guide you through the process of getting them connected. The mobile app is also where you'll assign an item to each button. Don't worry, though, if you don't care for the scent of Meyer's lavender hand soap you ordered this time, you can switch to a different option later on. In fact, I find myself switching the product assigned to my Optimum Nutrition button on a regular basis; I don't need five-pound tubs of whey protein as often as I do pre-workout powder, but I digress.
Setting up the buttons will take a few minutes depending on how many you order at once. I actually had to try a few times with one of mine to get it to connect, but the other two were quick and easy. In total, I'd say setting up all three took around 20 minutes, including the time I spent looking for and assigning products.
Once the Dash buttons are connected to WiFi and you've assigned items you them, you're good to go. Simply press the button and your order will be placed through the Amazon app on your trusty mobile device. What happens if you press one by mistake? Or your little one gets a hold of it and presses it 50 times? Not to worry. When the Dash button is pressed and the order is placed, you'll receive a notification on your phone. It's then you have the ability to cancel any rogue orders. If you don't do anything, the order will go through without further action on your part. You also have to tell the app to let you order multiple items at once. It really is amazing how easy the whole setup is to use, and it saves me the few minutes I'd spend ordering on Amazon's site. You know, the place you're sure to be distracted by discounted headphones or the latest ramen cookbooks.
My only real criticism of the Dash buttons has nothing to do with how they work. The adhesive that's on the back, included so you can stick the devices in the spots most convenient for you, isn't very strong. I stuck both the Meyer's and the Optimum Nutrition buttons on the side of my fridge and they both fell off after a couple days. I get that Amazon doesn't want to use material that could take off paint or ruin the finish of whatever you adhere the buttons to, but it would be nice if they stayed in place.
Here's the best part: They're free. Sure, you have to fork over $5 when you order each Dash button, but Amazon gives you that money back when you place your first order via the gadget. So, for all intents and purposes, they won't cost you a dime. That is, unless you decide to never use them, of course. As far as I'm concerned, the Dash buttons are a great help for items that I frequently run out of and typically forget at the store. I'm talking things like hand soap and toilet paper. Couple that with how easy they are to use and they quickly become a no-brainer for any Prime member.