• If I want an iPod I'll buy an iPod
  • If I want an iPod I'll buy an iPod
    Written by battye
    Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:26 pm

    South East Asia is the home for fake merchandise, particularly mobile phones and mp3 players. It was on a recent visit to the region that possesses me to speak out on the outrageous prices vendors are charging for imitation mp3 players.

    I'm always on the lookout for a bargain, and Sim Lim Square in Singapore should be the first point of call. I'm talking about a five storey IT mall with hundreds of stores, and a fairly even split between genuine and fake products. Prices drop in price as you travel up the elevator, so the smart thing to do is to begin shopping at the top level and make your way down.

    A genuine 4GB iPod Nano - the latest generation - can cost anywhere in the region of, if you are lucky, S$200 to S$240 (as a comparison, the airport duty-free sells the same player for S$220, or USD$165). This is the real thing we are talking about. I don't think $165 is unreasonable for a world class product such as the iPod. Apple have become a world leader in digital audio technology, so you feel safe in the knowledge that you are buying quality. Not to mention the fact that you have certain warranties and guarantees which obviously aren't available or worthwhile with fakes.

    The fake iPod's - which the locals prefer to call "mp4 players" - are available in many different flavours. You can choose to have an imitation first generation Nano, second generation Nano, imitation video iPod or a normal mp3 player which isn't actually imitating everything but somehow finds itself classified as fake.

    Nobody can argue that the fake iPod's are not impressive. In fact, they are in some ways just as sophisticated as the the genuines. They play music, videos, have voice recorders and FM radios. Hell, some even have cameras. However, they are severely lacking in several departments, and even a vast array of unique features won't make up for this. Fake iPod's are a jack of all trades and master of none.

    They may have music and video capability, but the audio quality doesn't compare with the clean sounds Apple produce. Video quality is, to the credit of the Chinese manufacturers, quite good. But only the .flv (flash video) format is accepted, something which is not mainstream and hard to use. The firmware for the fake iPod's aren't created by people fluent in English, nor any programming languages it seems! The graphical user interface is quite "interesting" to use and certainly takes some time getting used to. Sometimes I think had they just used the Arial font face instead of Courier the interface would be 10 times more professional, but regardless of the imperfections and language barriers, the Chinese (all of the fakes are produced and manufactured on mainland China) have come up with a decent allround product.

    But not a product worth a pricetag of US$50.

    Come on! It would cost the Chinese factories no more than a few dollars to produce these items. (although in fairness, the same thing applies to Apple, but at least their iPod was designed in California, or so we are led to believe)

    A 1GB fake iPod, I could not find priced less than S$49, or USD$36. Reasonable? Debatable. In Hong Kong I found and purchased the same fake first generation Nano for USD$18. Somehow, I doubt shipping from China to Singapore makes up that $18 difference.

    The more storage you want, the higher the price. A 2GB fake iPod will set you back S$70, or USD$50.

    Fake iPod's are great. The prices of them are not. Mine lasted about 6 months before it died, which is fine because I paid $20 and got my money's worth. But at $50 and beyond, one has to consider whether it is worth it when the genuine and superior iPod Nano is only $100 more.

    iPod (nano)

    Pros: Apple, quality, guarantees, sound quality, iTunes compatibility, ease of use
    Cons: Lacking in some features (voice recorder, radio), more expensive, custom USB connection

    Fake iPod/mp4 players

    Pros: comparatively cheap, firewire connection, feature filled (music, video, radio, voice recorder, photos, games), looks like a real iPod, many accessories (eg. charger included)
    Cons: you get what you pay for (sometimes less), no guarantees, poor audio quality, non-standard video format, poor interface, strangely written instruction manual.
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