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Best Buy Android app not really the best way to buy

by Caitlin M. Foyt

The Best Buy app for your Android phone works a lot like Amazon's app, only it's used exclusively for Best Buy products. If you're a really big fan of this particular box store, and like to keep close tabs on your Rewards Zone points, Best Buy will be a welcome addition to your app library.

It works essentially like a mobile version of Best Buy's web site. It gives users the ability to purchase items directly from their phones, read product reviews, and search hundreds of products, as you can from your computer.

As soon as you launch the app, you'll see it has three tabs: "Search," "Weekly Ad" and "Special Offers." The Weekly Ad and Special Offers tabs list the stores current and time-sensitive deals. Press your phone's menu key, and you can locate a store in your area, search based on a bar code, look in your shopping cart, or check on your Reward Zone points. The search option, however, is probably the option you'll find most useful if you often head to Best Buy with particular purchases in mind.

The search option is very thorough, giving users four different ways to search. You can do a regular, Google-style search, enter the products' SKU information, scan its bar code, or take a photograph of a product. All of these search results can by sorted either by relevance, best-selling, new items, price, name and release date.

The regular, text search options both seem to work fairly well, but the same can't be said about the barcode scanner and photo-search options.

The barcode scanner is a bit finicky, working only about 50 percent of the time. Using your phone's camera in an attempt to capture and scan the barcode, the app will often just keep on refocusing without ever scanning it. In more than one instance, I stood there, trying to steady my shaky hand for several minutes before I decided to give up.

I scanned some popular movies and video games, and the app didn't pick up on them. For instance, I scanned Call of Duty: Black Ops, one of the most popular games of 2010, and the app told me it could not be found. This leads me to believe that unless you pick up a product inside of a Best Buy store or an item that was bought from a Best Buy location, this feature will not work.

When I used the photo-search feature, I took a snapshot of my computer. The app recognized that it was a laptop, but it wasn't able to designate the make or model. Then, I was given a long list of every brand of computer sold by Best Buy. I, again, did a search for the Call of Duty game, this time searching using the photo-search feature, and was met with a perpetually "wait one minute" style spinning circle and the word "analyzing."

This app is handy if you're at a friend's house or shopping at a Best Buy, and see something that you like. You can easily search the item, and then immediately buy this product with a few clicks of a button. However, it's the not the greatest box-store app in the marketplace. The app crashed several times while I was using it, and an "error communicating" notification popped up on more than one occasion.

The Best Buy app does have a handful of features that would make shopping a bit easier, but some of them don't work well. With a couple of updates, though, these issues could be fixed, and it would probably be a really great app.