Developer: Consumer Reports
Version Reviewed: 1.0
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
In the realm of product reviews, there is no better brand name than Consumer Reports. Many people wouldn't be caught dead buying a vacuum cleaner or the like without making sure that it gets a "best buy" or a "recommended" Consumer Reports badge. As good as their reviews are, though, their mobile app lives and dies on two things: ease of use and organization.
As far as app navigation goes, Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper is a real winner. Its home screen is neatly organized into three panels. There is a large button for barcode scanning (provided by the popular Big In Japan), a scrollable category guide complete with snappy little pictures, and a search bar at the bottom.
Your success with the app really hinges on how you plan on using it. If you are simply going to a store to find the best vacuum cleaner that is on sale, the barcode scanner/ search feature will give you just what you need. After scanning an item, the app sends you straight to a separate page that shows you the Consumer Reports score, as well as a local/ online price quote and a link to other products in the brand line.
Where the app falls short is in the organization department. Let's say that you aren't simply scanning or searching for a particular model, but want to know what the highest rated vacuum cleaner of all is. Well now, that is a bit more difficult. After navigating through a handful of menus, (Appliances > Laundry & cleaning > Vacuum Cleaners > Vacuum Cleaner subcategory) you are presented with a list of items that are ranked by score. The highest scores don't necessarily translate to "recommended" badges though, as they seem to be given at random. I know from personal experience that the ratings are given in price ranges, but that is in no way represented by the app. A simple 1-4 dollar sign rating next to the product would work wonders.
Fans of Consumer Reports ratings will certainly enjoy the mobile app translation, as well as the inclusion of the easy to use barcode scanner. The app really is perfect for people who want to buy the best of what is available at a particular store, and want their information from a trusted source. With the rise of free sites like Consumer Search, however, it's hard for me to gulp down the $10 asking price, but the Consumer Reports brand does lend a sense of credibility that not many can match.