Quality electronics vs generics - it's all the same?

So I used to work for an e-commerce retailer that sold extremely cheap electronic gadgets and computer parts that were imported from Hong Kong. Due to the nature of the business, I got to know many of our competitors, and discovered that all the off-brand stuff on eBay and Amazon, and even some “brand names” on Tiger Direct and NewEgg, are actually manufactured at the same facilities in China/Hong Kong. I could never post this while I still worked there, but since I’m gone, I feel free to ask:

What on earth are the quality controls in China?

See, as part of my job, I had to check out customer reviews of products on Amazon. Many items that were sold under brand names like Belkin had generic counterparts that this company sold. But both suffered from poor product performance in the reviews.

So, I am now an exceptionally educated and wary online shopper, but I feel like it’s hopeless: If the brand name (and more expensive item) is no more reliable than the ten-cent generic version on Amazon, my only recourse is

  1. Learn to build my own electronics and cables (ahh a fun experiment, but sometimes I need a part sooner rather than later) – or –
  2. Only buy from stores with generous return policies.

I also got to witness where customers would purchase defective items from the company I worked for, only to get a series of defective replacements.
What is a tech geek to do?

[QUOTE=poppycat;2558244]So I used to work for an e-commerce retailer that sold extremely cheap electronic gadgets and computer parts that were imported from Hong Kong. Due to the nature of the business, I got to know many of our competitors, and discovered that all the off-brand stuff on eBay and Amazon, and even some “brand names” on Tiger Direct and NewEgg, are actually manufactured at the same facilities in China/Hong Kong. I could never post this while I still worked there, but since I’m gone, I feel free to ask:

What on earth are the quality controls in China? [/QUOTE]
Sometimes reliable branded companies specify higher quality components, even though the design is identical …
In regards to Belkin … everything it’s sells is total garbage … it’s overpriced, under performing, and an embarrassment to electronics companies everywhere.

China: Quality Control … what’s that?
China (2): I think that’s where we outsource to poorer countries in Africa because it’s cheaper than building it in China …

Is there a list somewhere of generally reliable brands? If not, can we make one?:bigsmile:

There is no way of doing that. The problem is that you never know when a company is going to decide to outsource to someone new. Those of us in media are familiar with that game. :wink:

[QUOTE=Jesterrace;2559845]There is no way of doing that. The problem is that you never know when a company is going to decide to outsource to someone new. Those of us in media are familiar with that game. ;)[/QUOTE]

The only name that comes to mind is Samsung. I have never had a single failure with any of their products. VCR’s, DVD STB’s, TV’s, Hard drives, DVDRW’s etc. Maybe I’m just lucky? When I need something if Samsung makes it and its a competitive product I will go Samsung every time.

Depends on the product and how tight the people having it built want the quality to be. China CAN build excellent gear but if the original company that wants them to build a thing doesn’t specify how well they want it made they will figure out the very cheapest way to build it and still mostly work.
I have a Nspire Xtreme power 750 watt power supply, another top name vendor sells or did sell the exact same unit for way over double what I paid for mine and other then paint and the name everything I can check on is identical, but I paid 100 for mine and theirs was around 250. So far the only issue it has had is the fan bearings locked up after about a year of service even though the fan inside is a Yate Loon.
Friend I got it from still had a couple that died early he hasn’t tossed so he gave me a dead one and the fan is fine so I swapped it out and have spare parts if ever needed.
Of course that is the problem, how do most folks know what things are made well and sold in another name for much less money, and what ones are crap no matter who’s name is on it.
I can say the Nspire Xtreme 750 PS with the 140mm fan and cable management is a very good unit, pretty sure they have updated to even bigger ones that are similar but I have no need for any bigger then what I have now.

For me, I don’t tend to care much for the brand name unless it is something I have never heard of before or a type of product where there is a significant variation, such as computer power supplies. The most important thing is that it has the features I’m after. Even then, I would still check online user reviews (such as on Amazon, NewEgg, etc.) to see what others think of the product. I also tend to avoid getting a product that has just launched, as I’ve been caught out before.

Once I decide on a product, what’s really important for me is where to get it than simply looking for the cheapest price, unless there is a drastic (e.g. >10%) price difference.

I would rather pay a little more to buy from a shop with a reliable after-sales service than another shop that has it cheaper. For example, I never had any issue returning products with Dabs despite several products I’ve returned over the past few years, however, I’ve had a real pain with Komplett trying to get a Panasonic projector RMA’d where they insisted I had to go through Panasonic and the Panasonic insisted that it’s Komplett’s responsibility. Eventually I had to go through the national consumer affairs agency to get this sorted. :confused: So as you can imagine, I’ve pretty much stopped shopping at Komplett even if they have the product cheaper.

For small items, such as power strips, batteries, USB cables, ink cartridges, etc. which would not be worth RMAing if they fail, I tend to go for the cheapest shop, since some shops put a very hefty premium on such products.

[QUOTE=Seán;2561134]For me, I don’t tend to care much for the brand name unless it is something I have never heard of before or a type of product where there is a significant variation, such as computer power supplies. The most important thing is that it has the features I’m after. Even then, I would still check online user reviews (such as on Amazon, NewEgg, etc.) to see what others think of the product. I also tend to avoid getting a product that has just launched, as I’ve been caught out before.

Once I decide on a product, what’s really important for me is where to get it than simply looking for the cheapest price, unless there is a drastic (e.g. >10%) price difference.

I would rather pay a little more to buy from a shop with a reliable after-sales service than another shop that has it cheaper. For example, I never had any issue returning products with Dabs despite several products I’ve returned over the past few years, however, I’ve had a real pain with Komplett trying to get a Panasonic projector RMA’d where they insisted I had to go through Panasonic and the Panasonic insisted that it’s Komplett’s responsibility. Eventually I had to go through the national consumer affairs agency to get this sorted. :confused: So as you can imagine, I’ve pretty much stopped shopping at Komplett even if they have the product cheaper.

For small items, such as power strips, batteries, USB cables, ink cartridges, etc. which would not be worth RMAing if they fail, I tend to go for the cheapest shop, since some shops put a very hefty premium on such products.[/QUOTE]
Ink is probably the most expensive consumable product out there right now!

[QUOTE=RCM;2561165]Ink is probably the most expensive consumable product out there right now![/QUOTE]

I certainly agree, so for this, generics rule. :iagree:

[B]So here’s how I budget my printing:[/B]

[B]Bulk photo printing:[/B] I use an online printing service. Many start from ~8c per 4x6" print. Even with generic ink, you can’t print for that, as it’s difficult enough finding decent 4x6" glossy photo paper for this, never mind adding the cost of the ink!

[B]Occasional high quality prints:[/B] I use our Kodak 3250 with branded Kodak ink. The trick with this printer is to set the paper type to “Kodak premium paper” when printing, even with generic photo paper, otherwise the photos come out a little dull. I think Kodak do this to make money on printing paper rather than the ink by making prints appear when using non-Kodak paper (unless you manually set the paper type setting to Kodak.)

[B]Everyday printing:[/B] I use my old Canon ip5200 with compatible cartridges. These cost roughly €10 per set and seem to work fine. Like with other products I buy, I picked the seller on Amazon based on user reviews, as there are a lot of dodgy compatibles out there.