Tip 2: Look in the book "Best Android Apps"
While a book about something as fast-moving as the Android Market is doomed to a short shelf life, Mike Hendrickson and Brian Sawyer's book "Best Android Apps" offers a nice selection of 200 apps that is current as of April 2010. While I might quibble about whether some of their runners-ups might be superior to some of their top choices (or whether it really serves the public interest to select a best app for useless facts), overall Hendrickson and Sawyer have made some solid selections.
If an app in the book strikes your fancy, flip to the back of the book, find the QR code for the app by name, run Barcode Scanner on your phone, and frame the QR code in your camera. You'll have the app downloaded in no time. You can also use your phone to scan a QR code displayed on your computer screen to grab an app quickly after reading a favorable review online.
Tip 3: Search the Android Market from your phone
You can always search the Android Market directly from your phone. If you know the exact name of the app you want, this works very well. If you're searching or browsing, you may have to wade through a lot of crap to find what you want. Looking at the user ratings and the bracket for the number of downloads for apps helps -- up to a point.
One essential difference between the Android Market and the iPhone App Store has to do with curation. Apple gatekeepers have to actively approve an app before it appears in the App Store; the same goes for updates and bug fixes. Google employees who maintain the Android Market allow developers free rein to post apps, but quickly take down malicious apps. The statistics, ratings, and version histories of apps in the Android Market tell you a lot about how an app has been received by others.
Unfortunately, the Android Market ratings have been attracting incredible amounts of spam postings, usually with five-star ratings for the app whose comments they are spamming; in addition to being annoying, this screws up the averages. Take the average ratings with a big grain of salt and concentrate on what the serious comments have to say; when there are hardware/software problems reported, consider what handset the commenter was using. If you're using an Evo, you don't care if the app runs slowly on a G1 (a much slower device) or "force closes" (has an error that causes the Android to kill the running app) on an Droid (a device from a different manufacturer with a different CPU running a different OS version).