Using a SmartPhone vs. PDA when Scouting for Amazon FBA Inventory

smartphone-vs-pdaThis is a question that comes up often in the Thrifting For Profit Facebook Group.

(note: this is a free group. To sign up just click here, then click on the “join” button and we’ll add you to the group ASAP.)

In this post we’ll summarize the information and opinions we’ve gathered about these two different scouting tools. As we find other useful info, we’ll continue to add it to this post.

Both a SmartPhone and a PDA are useful when scouting. Which one you choose to use will depend up on what and where you are scouting. And you don’t need to choose just one. You could use both.

Beth started with her SmartPhone and now ALSO uses a PDA. Debra still uses just her SmartPhone.

Why a SmartPhone?


Using your SmartPhone with a scanning app (like Profit Bandit) has many advantages.

  • It is convenient since you probably carry your cell phone with you anyway.
  • It allows you to get “real-time” data from Amazon.
  • You can easily pop onto the web to look up more info about the item you are considering purchasing.


  • You need to have a SmartPhone with a data package.
    • While you can get these on month-to-month contracts, it still is an added expense if you don’t currently have one.
  • If you have no cell signal, you can’t Scout.
    • You may not have cell service in the way back of stores for instance.

You will also need:

  • A Scouting App to use to look up items you are considering purchasing.
  • Our favorite Scouting App: Profit Bandit. Read our review of Profit Bandit here and see it in action here.
  • Not absolutely necessary but very nice to have is a small hand-held barcode scanner called a ScanFob – check out our ScanFob FAQ page here.

What we use:

  • Debra has an older Android phone. Beth has a Droid Razr Maxx.
  • Both of us use ScanFobs with our SmartPhones (a “Nicety” NOT a necessity).
  • Both of us use Profit Bandit as our Scouting App. We also have the free Amazon Price Check App on our phones.

Why a PDA?

While a PDA may seem like “old school” technology, they are actually quite useful for Scouting – and they are not just for books!


  • Super FAST look-up of items.
  • No cell service needed at all.
  • No “data” package needed.
  • Some services (like Neatoscan) allow you to:
    • use an ear piece and it will speak the price and/or rank and other info to you.
    • easily set buying parameters
    • set it up so no pricing information is shown on the screen which is good for giving to employees.
  • Dependent upon which service you sign up with, you may be able to download numerous Amazon item categories. (Neatoscan accesses 23 categories).


  • You need a PDA, scanner and a monthly service.
  • They are slightly larger than a smart phone.
  • While the database you download is updated often, it is not “real-time” data like the live scouting apps on cell phones.
  • You need to remember to update the database at least a few hours before you need it.

What we use:

  • Debra does not have a PDA (yet).
  • Beth uses a Dell Axim x51v with a Socket Scanner that plugs into a slot on the top of the PDA. She uses NeatoPricer from NeatoScan.
    • Nathan Holmquist has done a nice break-down of what is needed, how much to pay and where to find it here.

More about SmartPhones and PDAs:

Discussion about SmartPhones vs. PDAs on the Thrifting For Profit Facebook Group:

(note: this is a free group. To sign up just click here, then click on the “join” button and we’ll add you to the group ASAP.)

Here is a great video from Rob Anderson where he shows a SmartPhone and a PDA in action:

What other questions or comments do you have about Scouting with a SmartPhone or a PDA?

We invite you to come on over and post ‘em on the free Thrifting For Profit Facebook Group.

(note: this is a free group. To sign up just click here, then click on the “join” button and we’ll add you to the group ASAP.)

Or, post your questions and comments below.

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  1. Terry says

    You don’t need an expensive month-to-month data package nor even a cell phone signal when using Profit Bandit. I am using it on an ipod touch which has no cell connection capability. I connect to the Internet (even in the deepest reaches of a store) via a pocket-size mifi-wifi unit. Using a pre-paid service, I get unlimited data for $99/ year.

    • DebnBeth says

      Hi Terry,
      Thank you for sharing your set-up with us :)

      When I first started out I used an iPod Touch with a mifi unit too. I mention this briefly in this post on our other site: Although, my service was through Verizon and cost me around $30/month. I got tired of carrying around those two gizmos with my cell phone (just to have with me) so I eventually opted to have everything all in one with a SmartPhone. For me, this ended up costing the same (minus the initial outlay for the phone).

      What service do you use for your mifi where you get unlimited data for $99/year?

      – Beth

    • DebnBeth says

      Daniel… you do not need to be a pro-seller to use Profit Bandit. You will have to contact their support to get the work around. Debra 8-)

  2. James says

    Why can’t we just download a database to a smartphone so that internet is not required? A smartphone can already scan and it has storage.

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