- Fast, easy-to-use scanner
- Online and local prices
- Scanner struggles with round or shiny items
RedLaser (Free) is one of the most popular iPhone shopping apps. Just check out iTunes, where the app has a 4.5-star rating from more than 850 reviewers. After testing RedLaser, I can see why it enjoys such high ratings -- it’s a simple barcode scanner app that works incredibly well.
An iPhone Barcode Scanner That Actually Works
The RedLaser app is designed to help you compare prices on any number of items by scanning a barcode with the iPhone’s camera. To start scanning items, tap the small lightning bolt icon on the bottom of the display and line up the barcode within the arrows. The arrows will turn green and you’ll see a "hold still for scan" message while the app does its magic. After the scan is complete, results pop up in one or two seconds. I was super impressed with how quickly the RedLaser app posted results.
Unlike some other price-comparison apps I’ve reviewed, including the Shopping.com app, RedLaser’s results pages are well organized. The app displays both online and local prices, and you can toggle between the two results pages. Prices are displayed in large green numbers, and it’s easy to see how prices compare at a glance. Each price comes with a link to that store’s website, but those pages are not optimized for the iPhone. RedLaser also includes a nifty feature where you can email your scanned items to view later.
The RedLaser scanner works remarkably well. For some reason, the RedLaser scanner seems less vulnerable to movement than other shopping apps I've tested, so you don’t have to hold your hand quite as steady. I scanned dozens of items -- everything from vodka to store-brand multivitamins -- and the RedLaser app found a match every time. The scanner did have a harder time with glare on shiny or round objects, but you can enter the UPC code by hand for hard-to-scan items.
The Bottom Line
RedLaser is great app to take along on your next shopping trip. The scanner does struggle a bit with glare, but that’s a problem you’ll encounter with any iPhone shopping app. The RedLaser scanner is faster than most apps, and the price results are displayed in an organized fashion that makes it easy to compare prices. The inclusion of local prices in addition to online results is also a plus. Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
What You’ll Need
The RedLaser app works with the iPhone and the fourth-generation iPod touch. It requires iPhone OS 4.0 or later.