CompareEverywhere Comes Out on Top in First Battle of Barcode Readers

News and Rumors CompareEverywhere Comes Out on Top in First Battle of Barcode Readers

New owners of the T-Mobile G1 are the lucky few who are able to get in on the ground level with Android.  Seeing the first apps available and checking out all of the free downloads available, they’ve likely gone through the Market and grabbed more than a handful of applications.

Among the most popular apps so far are the barcode scanners.  Currently, ShopSavvy sits higher than both CompareEverywhere and Barcode Scanner in total number of downloads.  All three do the same thing for the most part, but are they equal in features and ability?  No, of course not.  In my 3-day test of the tools, CompareEverywhere came out on top in my overall favorability.  Here are a few details that I gathered from playing with each of them that help tell how I arrived at this decision.

First off, none of them scan a product any faster than the other.  If you think one is doing it better, then it’s in your head.  Of the three, CompareEverywhere is the only one that is silent when the UPC is recognized.  The other two sound exactly like a barcode reader at the local grocery store.  In fact, CompareEverywhere gives a slight vibration when a barcode is scanned.  This subtle variance might make all the difference in the world if you are trying to scan things at a store on the sneak.  To be fair, Barcode Scanner does have the option to turn off the sound.

I picked five random items to test out specifically for this article, one of them a Wal-Mart exclusive.  The items were:

  • Lost in Translation DVD
  • Dove Ultimate Clear Cool Essentials Deodorant
  • NyQuil Cold & Flu Liquicaps (12 pk)
  • 33oz Maxwell House Columbian Supreme Coffee
  • Wal-Mart’s “Great Value” brand of Imitation Vanilla Flavoring

The coffee was not recognized by ShopSavvy, but neither of the other two were able to provide prices.  They both knew what the product was but couldn’t find me anywhere to go for it, locally or online.  The same could be said for the vanilla flavoring although I was not surprised.

Barcode Scanner was only giving me web options to purchase things, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  If I were looking for electronics or big ticket items that I might shop around for online, this would be a great place to start.

ShopSavvy was also providing me places to go online, yielding zero results locally for those items that were recognized. 

CompareEverywhere was able to find local places in addition to online.  Granted most of them were Wal-Mart and Circuit City, at least I had some in-town choices should I need to grab one of the items tonight.

Barcode Scanner will tell you if it recognizes the UPC, but then you have to take the extra step of doing a “product search” or a “web search” if you want to see anything else.  At least with ShopSavvy and CompareEverywhere you get results listed immediately if there are any.  On the flip side, if you do a web search, you could end up with some great information beyond the description and product reviews.  This is where you might get real time or recently updated information like recall notices or other alerts.

One of the features I do like quite a bit with ShopSavvy is the ability to create a wishlist and price alert.  Say you had your eye on a BluRay player for this Christmas but don’t want to spend any more than $250.00 on it.  You can have ShopSavvy alert you if it finds the price at or below your target.

I’ve learned that CompareEverywhere is built with the library of codes.  This must be what makes the difference in finding more items, at least for right now.  I do know that they guys behind ShopSavvy are constantly adding new items everyday, but until they get to certain things, I trust the database in CE more.

ShopSavvy does offer the feature for searching eBay items and/or listing something with the website, which the other two lack.  This might be extremely handy for some people, but I imagine that if someone were scanning a UPC, they are likely looking for a new item.  Nobody searches eBay for products based on UPC codes, so I’m picturing this feature as somewhat slow to take off.  That’s not to take away from its potential though.  There are going to be a lot of people who might scan a friend’s DVD and check to see if they can grab a used copy off eBay.  Music, games, and books are also likely to get traction this way.  For big ticket items however, people generally want to go with new products or established websites.

Although ShopSavvy did offer the cheapest price for Lost in Translation at 75¢ online, I didn’t have any local options.  CompareEverywhere has it at $3.58 in town and $6.99 online.  DVD’s are probably something that people will be comparison pricing and on Tuesdays it will be nice to know whether or not to leave Best Buy to head over to Wal-Mart.

CompareEverywhere has a great tool for cost conscious grocery shoppers with the list feature.  Got a handful of items that you are always buying?  Create a list of products by scanning them and then literally cross them off as you throw ’em in your cart.  The list can also be share via HTML or XML format.

Both SS and CE offer wish lists for people who want to keep a… well, wish list of products.  This is good for people like me who like to try to keep things in their head that they want to buy at some point, but always forget to follow up with.

A major feature that I like with CompareEverywhere is the local map that comes up and shows actual locations of places in my area, with their respective prices.  This simple visual representation is what I found to be most useful, as I imagine many would agree.

I’ve not gone totally online for all my shopping and each year I tell myself that I am going to go totally digital for Christmas.  It’s not going to happen no matter how hard I try.  What I will enjoy most about these apps is being able to make educated purchasing decisions in the aisle without wondering what the guy up the street has the same product selling for.  So far, CompareEverywhere comes out on top, not only because I find more products overall, but also because I can see just how far these places are.

All three products are in their infant stages and are no doubt going to continue to grow and add features.  I’d love to put together a combo between the three applications.  With CompareEverywhere using the UPCDatabase, it has an edge in potential growth as the database is crowd-sourced and uses Creative Commons to help build it.  Still, the guys at ShopSavvy are definitely handling their business over there.

I’d love to revisit these apps in a few months to see how much growth each of them does.  For now, I see no problem with having all three on my G1 as each is free and offers a little something for each of us.