RedLaser, by Occipital
- Incredibly accurate
- Easy to use
- Alternate method of entry
- Can email information
- No configuration of price/shopping sites
- Some items not found
- Email was garbled
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a promo code for this app.
RedLaser is the newest, "hot ticket" item in the app store. It acts as a scanning and price comparison tool. It works by scanning the bar code, the doing an internet search for the item. If scanning doesn't work, you can type in the bar code number manually. So how well does it work? Read on...
When I started the app, I thought it would be pretty straightforward, but little did I have any idea how easy it would be to use. Start with the bar code scanning. When I first was using it, I thought I would have to take a picture of the bar code...nope! Simply holding the item up to the camera lens allows you to scan the bar code. You do have to hold the camera steady, but it is not difficult to do at all. Occasionally I would have to shift the item away from the glare, but aside from that I was able to scan quite easily.
I tried entering the bar code numbers manually as well (another option if you can't get an image). That worked like a charm as well, but it certainly wasn't as easy as scanning!
Once the item is scanned or entered, the app begins an automatic search and price comparison on Amazon.com and Google. I tried a few different kind of objects. Most of them had no difficulty (the three exceptions are mentioned below). Relevant prices came up, and I could easily see if the item I was looking at was price reasonably or not. When you see a vendor, you can open the website in the app, open it in safari, or email the web site page to yourself. There was no way to get a "cheapest price" option online, nor did they mention if things like tax or shipping were included (I assume they were not).
In the settings (located in settings, not in the app) you can specify the kinds of bar codes, the Amazon.com store location, and the currency. But I would love to be able to see settings for adding additional websites or price comparison options.
There were three instances where I had some problems with the scanning and price comparison. One was a book I tried to scan, and it didn't come back as having a match. Turns out the book actually hasn't been released yet (it was an examination copy that a colleague of mine had). The second was a desktop calendar I had (day by day calendar). I was about $8, but a couple of the price comparisons were listed at $59! When I opened the link, the price was listed as $9, so I don't know where the $59 came from. Lastly, I scanned a normal fish bubber (like the kind you have in a fish tank). It recognized the item, but didn't find any price comaprison. I don't know why - the brand was a pretty universal brand and there wasn't anything special about it.
Each item you scan is stored in the main screen list, so you can always go back and find it again. You can remove items individually or clear the whole list. As with the actual webpage price comparison, you can email the list to yourself (or someone else) but you can't email individual price comparisons. However, when I received the product list, the email was garbled and almost impossible to read, making this feature almost useless. I don't know if it was my account or not.
All in all, this is a really cool app. I liked it, and it was easy to use. I don't know how much I will actually use it, but I can see this being handy when shopping for an item and you don't know if it is a reasonable price or not. I do wish you could modify the pricing websites, or have some more options for emailing the data, but this is still a handy app. At $1.99, it won't break the bank and could actually save you some money. Four out of five stars.
* = 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.