SmartShopper USA SS-101 Hands On

For years, we have all dreamed of kitchen appliances we could talk to. “Stove, make me some chicken. Microwave, popcorn please.” But what about a tiny device that keeps the whole family on their toes by offering a central message pad and shopping list for the whole gang?

The SmartShopper SS-101 helps you create a shopping list that’s completely error proof. In the simplest terms, the SmartShopper is a device to organize your shopping list. It records your voice, puts together your shopping list and prints it out.

Maybe it’s a guy thing:whenever I go grocery shopping, I always forget something. Heavens knows, I’ve tried using post-its on the refrigerator and that didn’t work. They’d fall and wind up lost under the fridge. Then I started using the voice memo on my cellphone but, that (for the obvious reason that you can’t modify the voice memo) also proved unworkable. Then, suddenly shopping got serious… my girlfriend moved in.

I turned to SmartShopper to make our shopping more efficient. It comes preloaded with a 2,500 word master-list of grocery items. Another useful feature is that you can edit your shopping list before you print it out by highlighting the item and deleting it. A neat money saving feature is you can flag items you have coupons for. You can even tell it quantities like a dozen beers… err a dozen roses.

The SmartShopper comes with pretty strong magnet so you can stick it on most refrigerators, wall mount it, or just leave it on the counter as a handheld device. It’s quite small (71/2’’ x 4’’ and 1 ¼ thick) and it runs on four double AA batteries (not included). The LCD has a 9 point font size which is easy enough to read. The voice recognition technology is Nuance’s VoCon 3200 which needs no training and works for everyone in the house. The box comes two rolls of common thermal paper making it easy enough to re-supply.

List time
The SmartShopper was pretty easy to set up. I took it out of the box, put in the batteries, and dropped it on the counter. As breakfast rolled around, I realized I was out of a few stables, Wheaties, water, and beer. I pressed the record button, started talking, and gave it my short shopping list. I adjusted the recording level and found that five or six inches is the best distance to talk to it. It displays my list in alphabetic order. Now I step back and let my girlfriend take over and she rattles off about 13 items while designating quantities. We check the list on the LCD screen and everything is in alphabetical order, grouped by categories — sweet.

On a roll
She’s getting into it, adding custom items like brand names so when I’m sent to the store I can’t come back with the wrong brand. Customizing is accomplished by going to the main menu and highlighting “library selection.” Up pops an alphabetic keyboard of sorts and you can type in custom items. This process is slow but not terrible when you consider that you only have to do it once. In that section, I found you can get creative and add errands, or other types of lists. She pushes the print button and the SmartShopper’s thermal printer, prints out the list. Organized and grouped by categories. Unluckily, for me the errand list is the first category to print so there is no missing it and I’m stuck picking up her dry cleaning, shoe repair and anything else she desires.

I (we) like the SmartShopper; it’s intuitive and easy to use. Before I would either buy on impulse (never go food shopping while hungry) or as I mentioned earlier I’d forget something. We have it on the fridge but we’re considering putting it on the counter top. I took it with me to see what that experience would be like if I couldn’t print (if I temporally ran out of paper). While using the screen it worked it just fine but was a tad too bulky to fit in my pocket. Additionally, the SmartShopper is not cheap at $150 but, when you think of the technology that’s involved (voice recognition, printing) the costs seems fair.

I hope the SmartShopper USA doesn’t turn me into a girly man who likes to shop, but my girlfriend said, and I quote, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” Words to live by.