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How to find shopping deals with your smartphone

By C.J. CASTILLO
Dec. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.


Looking for a good deal while shopping has never been easier, thanks to some handy apps for your smartphone.

I can't tell you how many times I've used my iPhone to look up the price of an item while in a store, to see if I can find it cheaper elsewhere.

Sometimes, trying to find the lowest price of an item can be a hassle, but when using a neat app like RedLaser, shopping for a deal is quick, and even fun.

RedLaser, created by eBay, is a free download for the iPhone. This app is very easy to use. Just launch the application, find the barcode of the object you want to scan, allow the app to scan it and wait for the results. The results retrieved can include prices of the item from online retailers and stores nearby. If you scan packaged food, you can also get nutritional information of the product.

How you decide to use this information is up to you. Say you are in Store A and using this app find that Store B has a better deal. Perhaps you can ask if they would honor the price. Worth a try.

Warning: I guarantee once you have RedLaser installed on your phone, you will start scanning everything with a barcode. Be prepared for stares from onlookers. They are probably just jealous of your barcode scanning abilities.

For those of you who have an Android phone, there is a similar app called Barcode Scanner. Developed by ZXing Team, Barcode Scanner scans barcodes and then searches for the product using Google's online product search. The app is free.

One more app that works on both iPhone (3GS and 4) and Android phones is Google Goggles. This app allows you to scan an object, any object, you don't even need a barcode. The app then searches Google to find a match. Google Goggles can be used on just about anything, not just products, but that's a whole other column. Try it, you will be impressed. Google Goggles is free on iTunes and on the Android Market.

Armed with a smartphone, a few handy apps, shopping got a little geekier. And way cooler.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902

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