iPhone Life magazine

Red Laser: Knowing if you're getting a good deal

I have about 90 apps on my iPhone 3GS, some of which I use every day, some of them occasionally, and some never. There are some I thought I'd use a lot, just to find that they're not as useful as I'd anticipated, and there are others that I thought were just novelties and I find myself using them all the time. Red Laser, the app that lets you scan any barcode and the iPhone then quickly pulls up pricing available on the Internet for the item,  is one of the latter.

I must admit, I am one of those people who while shopping in a store often whip out my iPhone and look up reviews of stuff I am tempted to buy. When I'm at the video game store with my son and he falls in love with a game, I always check its rating at metacritics.com before I give the green light. And so on. Red Laser adds an important component to shopping: it lets you quickly check if the price of an item is reasonable and in line. Say I am interested in buying a digital camera in an electronics store and it's priced at US$179.99, with Red Laser I can instantly see if that is a fair price. If I scan and see all the usual discounters offer the same item at between US$169 and US$199, I know I am getting a good deal. If, however, I see the camera available for US$129, chances are I'll pass and either order it online or go elsewhere.

What Red Laser does is give you peace of mind. If you can instantly find out the prevailing sales price of an item, you can then decide whether you want to buy or not. You instantly know if you're being ripped off or if you're looking at a good deal. Some have said that Red Laser is unfair to local retailers and brick and mortar stores. I think the opposite is true. If I KNOW that an offer in a store is a fair one, I am more likely to buy it right then and there as opposed to having my doubts and looking it up online later.

As far as I am concerned, Red Laser (US$1.99) is a terrific example of the seemingly boundless innovation in iPhone apps.  

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