If you have an iPhone, you’ll probably want to check out SnapTell Explorer, a free application now available on the App Store. The premise is simple: take a photo of the cover of any CD, DVD, book, or video game, and the application will automatically identify the product and find ratings and pricing information online.
I was skeptical when I first saw the app - the iPhone has had difficulty with image processing for barcodes, and most image recognitions systems I’ve tried on other platforms have been iffy at best. But SnapTell just works. Every time.
The app correctly identified just about everything I threw at it: Xbox games, Pocketbook O’Reilly manuals, The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Wisdom, Kurt Vonegut novels, and a number of more obscure books (yes, it worked on The Twinkies Cookbook). It even managed to ID a copy of Civilization 4, despite the fact that it was covered in obnoxious price tags and stickers. I actually tried to mess it up by taking photos in poor lighting and odd angles, but the app still stayed nearly flawless. No, it doesn’t have everything - I managed to stump it on a book about Danish Grammar - but it will do just fine for any trip to a retail store.