Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 12:19 AM
Barcode Scanner by ZXing Team can scan a variety of barcodes on books, products, and shipping labels. Users simply open the application and scan a barcode. Barcode Scanner then gives the option to search the scanned barcode via a "Product Search," "Web Search," or "Shopper Search," all of which are powered by Google.
In scanning UPC labels on products, Barcode Scanner often accurately finds the product on any of the search options. When scanning tracking labels, a Web search is useful in determining your courier service and ETA. Barcode Scanner's most notable feature is its ability to scan QR codes and access the URLs, contact information, and calendar events contained within. A recent update also allows for bulk scanning, letting a user scan multiple barcodes that the utility then automatically saves to a history for future reference.
Barcode Scanner does have a few flaws. It can accurately find the product I am attempting to scan about 80 percent of the time. I consider this fairly acceptable. The more obscure the item, however, the less likely it is to be found. The app fails when it comes to scanning ISBN barcodes on books. In several trials, neither of the three search options found the book I was looking for.
Another limitation comes up when using Barcode Scanner's History feature. Since the history displays only the numbers found in the ISBN or UPC, users may find it difficult to remember what it was they were trying to look for. I had previously scanned a copy of Final Fantasy IX. When looking through the history, I expected to find the name "Final Fantasy" or some derivation. Instead, I saw the number 662248900100. Had I bulk-scanned and wanted to compare Final Fantasy IX prices later, I'd be at a loss. This is not a serious limitation, but it is annoying.
Despite its flaws, for simple price comparisons at the grocery store or Best Buy, this application is quite useful. And QR code scanning provides instant access to QR information for surfing the Net and downloading Android apps. While similar utilities such as Google Goggles have more uses, Barcode Scanner by ZXing Team is a simple application with a high level of usability--and it's also free.