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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review: Fresh Deals

    Deal junkies, unite! About three years ago, I "discovered" the website Slickdeals.net. Basically, it is a website devoted to finding, discussing, and publishing hot deals for purchasing..well...just about anything. Since then, I have gone to that site whenever I wanted to try to buy something, to see if there is a deal for it.

    And now, deals comes to the iPhone. Well, not Slickdeals exactly, but instead we have Fresh Deals. Fresh Deals is a program that scours and gives you the most recent "hot deals" from a variety of deal-based website, such as DealCatcher, Slickdeals, FatWallet, and others. You are given a quick overview of each of the deals from the site.

    Well, when I say each deal, I mean the deals that have made the "main page" of the site. Usually each site has a main page with the hottest, best deals that have been brought to their attention, and that is what Fresh Deals gives you - not every single deal that may be discussed or mentioned, but only the best.

    Some examples of deals that I can find as I type this?

    "Guitar Hero: World Tour bundle for the X-Bos 360 for $139.99"

    "Diamond All-in-Wonder Premium HDTV Tuner for $144.49"

    "John Deere Talking Toolbelt Set $10 (normally $16.64) at Walmart"

    You begin to get the idea. Basically, the Fresh Deals server scans these website and will load the newest deals to your iPhone when you start the program.

    The program's visual interface is a little cluttered. At the top of the screen, you have the category of deal, the settings button. Below that you have a sliding bar that has an image (when possible) of the deal item. Clicking on the image with give you a brief description of the deal below. Below the description you have a button to email yourself (or really, email anyone) the details and link for the deal, and a button for "more details". Finally, you have a sliding bar at the bottom showing you how "fresh" the deal is, ranging from an hour or two old (freshest), up to 10 or more hours old (fresh).

    First, the categories. The deals are divided into various categories, including things like "computer", "electronic", "baby". Choosing one of these categories will only show you the deals that fit that description. Note, there is some overlap - often the computer and electronic categories will show many of the same deals, for example. But this way, you can focus your search on the items that are of interest to you!

    The sliding bad with the images allows you to choose a specific deal to look at. Unfortunately, the images are often distorted, or even missing, meaning you have to click on an unknown image to get the deal details. This can get tiresome, especially if you are looking for something specific.

    The deal "summary" just contains a few lines of text (and the image). Often, it is hit or miss if the text is useful - depending on how it is formatted from the website, the text may be difficult to read, not contain any useful information, or both. For example, I saw a deal that said "Panasonic 42" television, with a picture of the television. Curious, I clicked on the picture, but the summary didn't give me any more information - not the cost, not where it could be purchased, or anything like that. Presumably the text in the summary is just based on the webpage, but it seems they could pull the information and make it easier to access.

    Fortunately, there is a "more details" button which will take to directly to the link on the website. Rather than use the Safari browser, Fresh Deals has it's own browser incorporated into the program. This is nice, because you can exit the browser and go back to the deal list. Unfortunately, the browser doesn't render things as well, or as quickly, as Safari, so there have been many times I have been left waiting for the more details page to load.

    Lastly, there is an email button to email the link with details to yourself, or to someone else. This is the last way to get information, and you can then check the email on the iPhone to access the link in Safari.

    The deals from the server seem to be updated fairly often. I check the program every five minutes over a 20 minutes span, and each time I loaded the program, new deals were loaded from the server. So it seems to be keeping track of the various websites pretty well.

    I am not sure when a deal vanishes from the server. It may be there is a limited number of deals, and the older deals are simply removed when the space is needed. Or it may be that they last for a certain length of time (one day?) and then are removed.

    I wish there was a search option. It would be great to be able to type in a keywork and get all deals that include that key word. Having the categories is nice, but a keyword search would make it even nicer. I also wish there was some way to "tag" a deal (other than emailing it to yourself). Create a favorites list or something so you could go back and look at the details when needed!

    Lastly, this program is very buggy. There seem to be no problems when loading all the deals, but often when I try to choose a specific category, the program crashes on me. This has happened immediately following a reboot as well, so just be prepared for it to happen.

    Pros: All the deals in one place, can email deals to yourself

    Cons: Buggy program, crowded interface, some obvious options are missing

    All in all, this is just an okay program. I wanted to like it, and it is the only program I was able to find of it's kind in the App store. But it seems like the developers left a lot of obvious functionality out (marking favorite deals, searches) and didn't really design the program too well (cluttered interface, summary screen is sometimes useless). In addition, the program seems a little buggy. At $.99 the price isn't bad, but the application itself isn't really polished. They updated it on Dec 6, so maybe another update will be coming soon? As it stands, I only give it three stars out of five, through.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.

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