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Rafe Recommends: Apps for dumb gadget shoppers

Get Amazon's Flow and the new app to save yourself from spending too much.

Wait for it... Decide tells you if you should buy that gizmo now, or not.
Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

No matter how many times I write that physical retail is the refuge of the dumb shopper, from time to time even I find myself in a Best Buy or CostCo, fondling the box of some new gadget, itching to buy it on the spot. I, too, am dumb.

Fortunately, there's an app for that. Several, in fact.

In addition to the multitude of shopping apps covered elsewhere on CNET (see the Related Stories box), I recommend two that are custom-made for the undisciplined electronics shopper.

First, Amazon's A9 Flow. Amazon already has another strong app for scanning prices in stores, but Amazon Flow is great for the casual in-store shopper since you barely have to hold still for the camera on your iPhone to get a fix on the product or barcode you're pointing at. It's just too easy to see if the price of what you're looking for on shelf in front of you is competitive with the online price. So get this app.

Second, Decide's new mobile app. Decide, which also has a good Web service, tells you if the price of an item you're looking at is predicted to hold steady, go up, or go down. If you are in a store more than a day before the gift-giving holiday you're shopping for, it will tell you the value of waiting. It will also compare online prices to prices at other physical stores near you. I like Decide, but it does require that you have enough time to make use of its feedback. If not, Decide can simply serve as a reminder to start your gift buying earlier next year.

The endorsement: Flow
Platform: iOS
Price: Free
Company: Amazon A9
Summary: Yet another price-check app, but with the best scanner around.

The endorsement: Decide
Platform: iOS | Web
Price: Free
Company: Decide
Summary: Smartphone scanner app that will tell you if the product you're looking at is about to be available for less.