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The new breed of phones, like Apple's iPhone or T-Mobile's Google Phone, may be both expensive and complicated, but they can also save you money by making you a better comparison shopper.

There was a time not long ago that shopping meant driving to the store and physically looking at things. A hassle, but at least you can see what you’re buying.

Then came the Internet. You can’t actually touch the item, but what you can do is compare prices in stores both real and virtual all over the world in search of the best deal.

Wouldn’t it be nice to able to do both at once? Find an item in a store, then instantly price shop it? Well, if you own one of the new Google phones, now you can, because it has a downloadable program called Savvy Shopper.

Here’s what it does… You pick up any item in the store, look for the bar code and scan it. In seconds you get a list of prices for the same item both online and in other local stores.

The technology is still new: the database isn’t complete, so you don’t find many items. And it’s perfectly capable of making mistakes. For example, in our testing, it thought a bottle of Margarita mix was a wireless router.

Still, this is a glimpse into the future of shopping: one more tool in the arsenal of the bargain hunter. But no matter how much technology shrinks the planet, don’t ever forget your local stores: they employ your neighbors, pay taxes and participate in your community.

Stacy Johnson

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