RedLaser for iPhone review

The iPhone App Store constantly surprises us. In among the tedious farting apps and the games clearly designed to work with non-existent buttons and joysticks sit absolute gems like RedLaser.

The concept is fairly unique. The app uses the iPhone camera to scan the barcodes of items. It then searches online for the best deals on those items. The idea is that when you’re shopping, you can scan an item you’re thinking of buying and see how much it costs at various online stores.

To scan an item simply hold the iPhone vertically and point the camera at the barcode. On the screen you’ll get a view of the barcode and two vertical lines. The idea is that you line up the edges of the barcode to sit just inside the two lines.

Scanning items can be a bit hit and miss. First of all you have to get used to the slightly offset camera, which is set above the two lines you have to line up the barcode with. You’ll then find scanning is either impressively quick or an exercise in frustration.

Still, when it works, there’s no doubting the benefit that this device can bring. It searches for product prices using Google product search, which itself comprises just about every online retailer you can imagine.

The fact that you can get items for less online than in a shop is hardly news. You’ll rarely be in a store checking out an item without being able to pick it up cheaper online. And we’ve never found online shopping to be a chore. In fact, you could just tap the name of the product into Google Products (www.google.co.uk/products) and get pretty much the same result.

OUR VERDICT

However, you might be able to get a discount in store, there and then, if you show them that it’s cheaper elsewhere. And RedLaser keeps a record of products you’ve scanned and the shops that are selling them, which comes in handy if you decide to buy something at a later date.

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