There are some things time and technology may never replace. The feeling of a newspaper page between your inky, newsprint-stained fingers, for instance. (Anybody...? No? Just me?)
But for everything else, well... it seems like there's an app for that.
Like price comparison.
Sure, you can drive around to every grocery store in the Fox Valley area (or nine of them) to find the best prices as several Courier-News reporters and editors, myself included, recently did for Dave Gathman's cover story, "Are You Bagging a Bargain?" Or you can download one of the many barcode-scanning, price-comparing applications now available on your smart phone.
Just point and scan... after the jump.
Resident Courier-News tech geek and bargain hunter that I am, I downloaded ShopSavvy by Big In Japan, Inc., onto my HTC Droid Eris. It's one of the first apps that come up as you scroll through the Android Market (No. 16, to be exact), and it has a five-star rating. Also, it's free.
It sounded promising: "Aim the camera at any barcode, wait for the beep and ShopSavvy will provide you with a list of online and local prices."
And that's exactly how it works... except for the part about providing you with a list of online and local prices.
Dave had asked us all to price check 23 everyday items at different grocery stores, like a scavenger hunt. I found all 23 at Woodman's in Carpentersville, then scanned them all with my phone.
ShopSavvy found only 17. And one of those doesn't count: It read a carton of Dole orange juice as a CD called "Bollywood Hits Remix Hits."
Of those it did find, most (eight) turned up no prices from the Web or local stores to compare. That included a Tombstone frozen pizza and a tub of Country Crock -- not exactly hard-to-find items.
Only once did it find me a bargain: an 88-cent can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup online. The same can of soup was $1.19 at Woodman's.
So I guess we still need newspapers.
As Dave noted in his article, if you drove to all those grocery stores to compare prices for yourself -- stores as far apart as South Elgin and Huntley -- you'd probably spend the $13 in gas you'd save by picking up the cheapest prices. Plus, even with five reporters and editors out comparing prices, that took us the better part of a week.
Instead, we can qualitatively tell you: If you don't care about brand names, shop ALDI in Elgin. If you do, the cheapest prices are at Walmart in Huntley or Woodman's in Carpentersville. The most expensive are at Dominick's in Carpentersville.
And you can enjoy that $13. Maybe spend part of it on a newspaper.