Mor on buying electronics

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Just to add a note to Mr B's helpful article on buying electronic goods in Hong Kong. Mrs Tall and I did go to a shop in that infamous building in Mongkok when we bought all the electronic stuff for our new flat last fall. It was a big purchase (an amp and surround-sound speakers, two TVs, etc.) so we were able to do some pretty serious bargaining.

It all went pretty well, in the sense that everything worked, and that the shop delivered and installed everything, so we didn't have to take a savings-wasting taxi ride!

There were a few 'exceptional' aspects to the service, though, that might put some people off buying from this kind of shop. First, the same guy that sold us the stuff was the one who came along with the delivery men to install it in our flat. Nothing really wrong with this, I guess, but it gives you a sense of the scope of these shops' operations. More pertinently, the goods were delivered at 11:30 pm, and this guy didn't get done installing them until 2-something the next morning! The whole experience was mildly fraught, to say the least.

But we did save several thousand dollars over what we'd have paid at Fortress/Broadway!

Mr Tall

where to get stuff

If you're looking for cheap stuff, probably the best place to look is Ap Liu Street in Sham Shui Po. It's sign-posted from the MTR. At first glance, it's just another market street, but some of the stalls sell DVD players, HiFi systems, etc. Also, many of the shops behind the stalls sell general electronics and whatnot. It's the place to go if you're looking for electronic components, tools (multi-meters, etc) or just gadgets (electric shavers are about $70, for example.)

Also, there are quite a few second hand camera stalls there and some second hand computer places. You need to know what you're doing with the computer places: it's usually secondhand components sold as is. If you know what's what, there can be incredible bargains there, and its a great place to find older stuff.

Another great place for computer stuff (and surround sound systems) is the Golden Arcade in Sham Shui Po (across Cheung Sha Wan Road from the Ap Liu Gai market).

This is probably the cheapest place in Hong Kong for computer hardware, but check around first - prices vary around the shops. The main hardware section is on the second floor - turn left from the MTR and walk down towards the McDonalds, then turn right until you see an entrance which goes up a few steps and then has an escalator going up. This will bring you up to about 100 small shops selling the latest hardware and a small amount of software. (More software, and especially the *ahem* 'cheaper' software is available downstairs in the basement.)

There's a middle floor which sells playstations and similar as well as some really odd stuff, which is definitely worth a browse if you're a geek.) i.e., if you want dual Xeon boards, PC104 boards, redundant power supply hardware, Barcode readers, etc, this is yer place.

Centralfield ( http://www.centralfield.com/ ) is pretty representative, although it's not the cheapest there.

If you're nervous about going up there, Wanchai Computer Center, which is just above the Wanchai MTR, is a small bit more expensive (maybe 5%), but has more or less the same things. It's a bit more mainstream, though, so you won't find the really way out stuff, but for PC stuff, it's fine. Not much Mac stuff, though.

If you want to get Linux, *BSD stuff, you can find it in Sham Shui Po, but broadband connections are cheap, and its usually easier and cheaper to just download it.

All the centres have PC makers who will build you a PC to your specs. They usually have paper fliers detailing their models, but you can always request different disks, memory, processors, graphics, case, etc.

And don't worry about whether or not they speak English. They speak MoneyStuff: they have Stuff and want Money, you have Money and want Stuff. a deal will be made. If they don't speak English, they'll call someone who does (a schoolboy), or just do the old numbers on a calculator trick. A Hong Kong shopkeeper will not let anything trivial like a lack of a common language come between him and a deal.

Having said that, you should have a good idea of what things cost. Wander around the center before deciding what to buy and where to buy it. Don't be afraid to be baffled by what's on offer. Your best bet might be to look at all the motherboards (for example) and then go away and look them up on http://www.tomshardware.com to see how they all rate before making a decision. (Not that tomshardware.com is the best site, but it's reasonable.)

And, you can *always* bargain, or try to bargain. They may not always bargain, as their margins are really tight, especially for PC hardware, but it's always worth a try.

Them: "This, 500 dollar."

You: "Wah! Yam mo gow chou ah! Hou Tsin ah! Tse bak M-sap man-ah! ( You're kidding, that's too expensive! 450 dollars)"

Them: "Your Cantonese sucks and it's still 500 dollars."

dave

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A very good post, thats spot on.

If you are a visitor to the site and are still a little reticent, what was said above pretty much covers things.

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Dave,

I was thinking we needed to add something about PCs - so thanks for doing such a great job. A couple of extra odds and ends...

I had a PC made a couple of weeks back, and was originally thinking of buying the parts and building it myself. I found they only charge HKD100-150 extra to assemble all the parts, so I was happy to let them do it. I used ICE Computer Company, shop 168 in Wanchai Computer Company. The guy was slightly (1 or 2%) more expensive than the other shops, but very helpful and speaks good English. (Compare another shop on the floor above where I stood for sometime until, after their mumbling about who would have to deal with the gweilo, someone picked the short straw and came over to deal with me.) The machine was bought to burn DVDs of baby B (next purchase will be the video camera), so I was glad to be able to spec out what I wanted.

If you're going to be buying "the *ahem* 'cheaper' software" that Dave mentions, you'll probably be asked to handover money and come back in 20 minutes. The 20 minutes usually turns into 40, but I haven't heard of anyone being ripped off (indeed you might even be surprised by the service - I took a friend there to buy Mac software last week, and they even told him not to buy one disk as it didn't support his OS version !)

If you're looking for Notebook PCs or PDAs, Wanchai Computer Centre probably has a better selection than the Golden Arcade.

If you're staying on HK Island and are looking for the Golden Arcade experience, head along Hennessy Road to number 298 and go up the escalator. The little shops there are between Golden Arcade and Wanchai Computer Centre in price. You'll also find shops selling dodgy R-rated DVDs, the 'cheaper software', and recently some shops have opened up selling second-hand business equipment (Intel Servers, Sun, routers, etc).

Cheers, MrB

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To give a better picture of the differences in prices, here are the prices I've found on my hunt for a video camera (proving the saying that you can tell the age of a man's firstborn child by the age of his video camera !)

I'm looking for the Sony 105E model, and found the following prices (all in HK$)...

$8,990 - this was the "official" price, quoted at the Sony showroom in Causeway Bay, and also the price at Broadway

$8,540 - Fortress

$8,150 - Citicall

[Added note : The day after I wrote this I went to buy at the Citicall in Central, and happened to ask in a nearby shop "Wah Kiu Radio Ltd" at No 7 Queen Victoria Street. This prce included local warranty, so they got the sale :

$7,740 - Wah Kiu Radio Ltd ]

$6,888 - Shop on Johnston Rd, Wanchai

$5,980 - Several shops in "Yau Shing Commercial Centre" (the building in Mongkok by the "Bank Centre" MTR exit).

The first three are all covered by local warranty, while the last two are parallel imports. A closer look shows that the paralell imports are the 105 NTSC model, instead of the 105E PAL model that is used locally. The $6,888 model is from the US, while the $5,980 model is from Japan.

Given that it's a digital video camera, and our TV supports multiple standards, I'm not sure if the PAL / NTSC difference is important or not ?

Finally, a quick visit to Amazon.com shows the 105E available for $9,360, and the 105 available for $7,800.

Regards, MrB

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[quote="mrb"]
Given that it's a digital video camera, and our TV supports multiple standards, I'm not sure if the PAL / NTSC difference is important or not? [/quote]

Well, about the PAL/NTSC stuff...

North America mainly use NTSC [National Television Standards Committee] where as United Kingdom [and for that matter most of Europe] uses PAL [Phaze Alternating Line].

NTSC Screen Resolution is 525 lines and refresh rate is 60Hz while the PAL Screen Resolution is 625 lines and refresh rate is 50HZ.

Therefore, PAL has higher resolution than NTSC. However, if you are getting into DV and DV authoring etc., there are several additional considerations that I will try to briefly explain below:

1) The capture format of your DV recorder:

This itself could become a extensive topic, but in short, you will have to look for higher MegaPixel values [if you want good quality DV and DVDs] and you also need to verify what are formats you can choose via a single DV recorder.

There are countless different formats and NTSC as well as PAL are some of them. However, if you are planning to create your own VCDs and/or DVDs, then you will have to ensure that your DV recorder supports MPEG or MPEG 1 [one and the same] format for VCDs and atlest MPEG 2 or above for SVCDs and DVDs.

Already getting complicated. Huh? Anyway...

The difference between these formats of MPEG [Motion Picture Experts Group] 1, 2, or above is based on their compression techniques. Therefore, MPEG 1 gives lesser capability of compression than compared to say MPEG 2 or MPEG 4.

The quality difference in this aspect is rather subjective. Many believe that MPEG 1 gives better quality than say MPEG 2 [used in DVDs]. However MPEG 4 gives a very nice quality.

In my opinion, the quality depends upon several factor where first and foremost the MegaPixels [at least 2 and preferably 4] is the first consideration [and this is separate from MPEG stuff above].

Second consideration would be the DV input format. Currently Digital Video 1 format is very popular and higher ones are also available. Here again you will get different choices in sound quality as well depending upon the input format [44.1 KHz or 48 KHz].

Anyway, without going into more technical stuff and thus confusing everyone, getting a good quality SONY or equivalent known brand DV Recorder should pretty much be adequate. Preferably go for a higher model even if it costs more.

2) The Authoring part:

After you have decided whether PAL or NTSC, 2 or more Mega Pixels, etc. you will have to make your decision based on the Authoring or the final end product of your movies/video.

Here again you have two choices:

a) Just use your DV recorder as a playback machine and you can plug this into any Multi Format TV that supports NTSC and PAL.

Therefore, in this case, whether PAL or NTSC will not be a big issue.

The current models of SONY DV recorders do allow you a reasonable amount of editing facilities [on the same DV cassette] and therefore you will be able to manage voice-over, simple editing, fading, etc.

However, if you are planning to make Hollywood style movies [like I do for my kids] then you should read the next part = b.

b) If you are thinking of jumping into serious home movie productions, then I suggest you get a professional software alongside your DV recorder.

SONY [by default] gives you a software via which you can create EASY VCD and stuff. But trust me that you will want to hide that software for good if you want better results.

There are many choices available on the market and it depends on who you ask. Some say Adobe and some say ULEAD.

Well, I use ULEAD's ViedoStudio 7.0 and DVD MovieFactory. In fact just getting the MovieFactory [or VideoStudio depending on your needs] would be good enough.

So at this stage, you will get into authoring part of whether you want to create a VCD [MPEG 1] or DVD [MPEG 2 and above].

VCD uses the standard format of VCD 2.0 and this you will be able to play on almost all VCD and DVD players around the world. Including your computer VCD and DVD players.

On the other hand, results with DVD have been a bit disappointing [worldwide]. As not all DVD players are able to play back the DVD created via OEM or different manufacturers.

So the choice is yours and you can have both together for archive and record purposes.

3) The Intermediate Editing:

Purchasing a DV recorder and then authoring either a VCD or DVD are the first and last steps [in my opinion] and many people avoid the intermediate part.

Why I term it this way, is because, you can directly edit on your DV recorder or you may just use the inbuilt MPEG 1 facility to create a "short movie" [somewhere from 15 seconds to 15 minutes depending on the size of the card - same card as used in Digital Cameras].

Some people are just satisfied by playing back their DV cassette back on TV etc.

However, repeatedly using your DV recorder as a player will ensure that your DV will have a very short life. Furthermore, you do lose the excellent editing capabilities and may NOT be able to output to a VCD or DVD straight away [from the camera].

Therefore, in the intermediate part, I would suggest that you prepare your computer or get a new extra one, solely for your DV editing and authoring project.

Do not underestimate this part. As it is expensive and also very time consuming. Here are the general requirements [based on an average 60 minute DV cassette].

Personal Computer requirements:

- Preferably Intel or Intel Celeron 2.0 G processor
- Magic Pro or similar reliable mother board
- minimum 256 MB on board RAM though preferably 512 MB or more
- GeForce 2 or GeForce 4 display card [64MB or more]
- Hard Disk drive at least 80 GB and preferably 120 GB
- CDR/W drive [capable of burning CDs, VCDs, and/or DVDs] (CD ROM or DVD ROM)
- Reasonable sound system including speakers with amplifier [now you get them quite cheap].
- and of course the necessary keyboard, mouse, monitor, floppy drives, etc.

Additional Hardware requirements:

Here again we need to go through some technicalities.

SONY DV recorders now allow you to transfer your project to a computer either via USB port or via [what is now known as] DV port.

All computers now come with a USB port. However, the quality of your project will suffer badly if you transfer via USB port. This is still the case; immaterial of your choice of MegaPixels, etc. as mentioned above.

Therefore, you preferably want to transfer your project to your computer via DV port. DV port is also known as IEEE 1394 and another term for it is Firewire.

Firewire/IEEE 1394/DV [which actually means the same] will guarantee that you get good quality transfer to your computer's Hard Drive [HDD].

However, you must purchase an additional card that you will have to install in the PCI slot of your computer. This card will allow you to connect to your SONY DV recorder via the IEEE 1394 or Firewire cable.

This card can cost anywhere from HK$120 to HK$800. In my experience, the one that has ASUS chip and costs about HK$250 is quite reasonable and I am using it with great quality.

Finally, after you have set up all of this, you will start using your software [VideoStudio 7 or DVD MovieFactory 2 or equivalent] and start the editing and authoring process.

There are again many tips and tricks there. But as it is, this post has already become too long and I will try to continue at a later stage.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, just shoot over at this board and I will try my best.

One more thing... every 1 minute of your DV clip will require approximately 10 MB or even more [depending on the quality setting in software] of your Hard Drive. So do not be alarmed to see that after transfering your DV recorder project to your computer, the Hard Disk consumption is significant :o

In the meantime... Kind regards to all here.

more on DVD authoring

Ron, that was an incredibly helpful and informative post!! Thanks very much for putting that up -- I know Mr B is planning to do some DVD production on a PC in the very near future.

I'm going to add just a bit on my own experiences. I've just finished my second 'home-cooked' DVD of video and photo slide shows of Toddler Tall. Each one has comprised about 30-40 minutes of video, arranged in 5-10 minute 'movies', and about half a dozen slide shows of photos, with music playing in the background. Remarkably corny stuff, but it's essentially for my own parents back in the States to help them keep up with their granddaughter's development.

I therefore had to overcome this PAL/NTSC barrier -- or at least I thought I did. Our videocam (a Sony, as Ron recommends -- we like it very much) is on PAL format, and of course my parents in the States have an NTSC TV. So I made sure that the video editing/DVD authoring software I was going to use (the standard stuff that comes with Macintoshes these days; more on that below) provided an option for converting PAL-encoded video into NTSC. Anyway, I burned a sample DVD with both PAL and NTSC movies on it, then sent it over to the States to my brother, who was buying a DVD player for my parents. He took that sample DVD around to a number of stores, and tried out a bunch of players, and ended up buying one that expressly stated it did NOT support PAL format -- except that it did, when you put the DVD in it and hit play! My brother said the PAL movie actually looked better than the 'translated' NTSC one did. It goes to show that this is an emerging field, to say the least, and that it's worth some experimentation -- I don't think you should ever assume that the technologies in this area are going to work with a particular format just because their specs say they will, and vice versa.

Now, about the Mac path: I specifically bought a Mac Powerbook G4 with superdrive (i.e. it can write both CDs and DVDs) to do video/DVD editing and production. I had to do some convincing with Mrs Tall, who'd never used a Mac before, but she's okay with it now, although she seems to harbor affections for Windows boxes that are inexplicable to me. The upshot is that the Mac AV suite -- which comprises iMovie (video editor), iPhoto (photo organizer/basic editor), iTunes (music/audio files organizer/player), and iDVD (DVD organizer/burning software) -- works pretty much as advertised. I'm no genius when it comes to higher-end technology, but I've been able to put together fairly watchable movies, with fade in/out style transitions between clips, subtitles, soundtracks, etc., along with photo slideshows that look pretty slick, with the shows timed to run simultaneously with the music clips running in the background, etc. And the DVD menus and other touches all have that nice smooth mac 'look', which is hard to explain in words, but usually quite obvious when you see it on screen.

What's great about the Mac suite is that you can move stuff around from application to application with no trouble whatever -- you can access your iPhoto folders in iDVD when you're putting together a slideshow, your iTunes audio files likewise, etc, etc. And you don't have to remember filenames -- you can see thumbnails of the photos themselves, little previews of your movies, etc, as you're organizing them in iDVD. The functions of the software are of course are aimed at the amateur like me: straightforward, but obvious and limited, but enough to get started on. And there's no problem whatever with my Sony videocam. I just plug it in with a Firewire, and I can run it in iMovie immediately in order to download the video for editing. I just threw away the software that came with the camera.

There's also of course higher-end software available for the video editing and such for the Mac, but I'm still a ways off needing that!

There are two main Mac drawbacks: they're expensive, and not many techies (especially here in HK!) take them seriously, which can be a problem in the sense that you're really limited in terms of the shops that sell/service them.

Anyway, this has turned into a bit of a Mac cheerleading session, so apologies for that -- but they really do provide a good option for the ham-fisted amateur like me!

Home Movies

This topic [home movies] in itself is very interesting.

Yes Mr. Tall, I agree with you about Mac simplicity. And since I have been too much in technologies since a young age, I have no common bond with Windows, Mac, or Unix/Linux.

Though I definitely prefer Linux because of its reliability and security.

Anyway...

As you become more involved with Home Movies, you will get many imaginative ideas and there are several third party software(s) that help you in Home Movie production.

Some of these are for sound, transitions, effects, royalty free copyright clips, etc.

The problem is that all of these software offer ONLY Window versions.

Another thing that I have experimented in my last two Home Videos is my OWN music. Of course created over a PC and Windows.

I got hold of a Drum machine [freeware] and it is great. I also got syntehsizers, equalizers, etc. [also for free, freeware].

Now, I use these software to create great sound effects and background music, etc. and then export these files to VideoStudio 7 or MovieFactory and use them with Hollywood style effects.

Well, I think we should start a new thread for this topic and write down all our experiences about Home Movies.

I might just do that later today.

Kind regards to all here.

A New Service provide??!

Few weeks ago, I read a computer magzine, inside there is an advertisement about some PC systems, and some notebook which call "BTO". The provider company is Centralfield Computer Ltd ( several shops in ShamShuiPo, and one in Wanchai). As the price seem to be attractive, therefore I make a phone call to their hotline. That's really a suriprise to me that the one who took the call could speak fluency english.

Later on, after chatting for a while, I ask about the PC list price, and the salesman answer my questions in brief, even though some of them should be out of salesman would answer, still he is willing to answer me. And then he also told me that his company now establish a new department - SME Department Team(the whole name should be Small and Medium Enterprise Department Team, :wink: trust me, I think I got the name right...ha). He told me that there are some new service provide to the clients such as on-site service include installation, networking & repairing. But the most thing that make me interesting in is that there would be an E-mail online quotation service & E-mail online technical support service. Wah....man, that's amazing. I could have the price list by e-mail, and also I could ask technical question regardless when I am.

I asked to change the PC config & request a new price list. And just half an hour, he send the quotation to me through e-mail, as the price is resonable & the service provide from the salesman look good, so I made the decision in a minute. Now the computer works great & their afterward service is really cool! I sometimes would send E-mail to ask about some technical problem, oftenly they would reply me within two days. So man, if you want to buy PC or Notebook, I suggest you should try about this company.

The salesman is really a nice guy, his name is [b]Wilson[/b]. And his e-mail is "wilsonchong@centralfield.com". The hotline phone no. is 2708-3639.

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Wow, this board is becoming popular as people are even starting to spam it (see post above). :wink:

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hi.. just to check with you guys,

i am actually looking for a Creative Zen Xtra mp3 player...

do they have it in HK ? anyone know the price and the best place to get it ?

thanks a lot

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Shops in the computer centres (eg Golden Arcade, Wanchai Computer Centre) sell a wide range of MP3 players. I think I've seen Creative in Wanchai.

MrB

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Hi Elaine,

Buy an iPod, or the new iPod mini!!!

Best mp3 players ever! ...although they're not cheap, they give a much higher value for your money. http://www.apple.com/ipod/

It also comes with MUCH! better software to manage your music (for Windows and Mac).

Just my 2 cents :roll:

...and in cause you're wondering, I don't own any Apple shares, nor do I work in their sales department.

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hi.. thanks for the info.

i woudd loveto get an ipod but i am still currenly running on 98SE so that rules out the ipod..

:o

Ipod

Hi
I am going to HK soon and I wanted to check is the iPOD much cheaper over there thans in Ireland, should I wait to buy it?

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Hi Marion,

It is probably worth waiting to check out the HK prices. My nephew visited at Christmas, and bought a 40Gb model here for less than the cost of a 20Gb model in the UK.

MrB

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Hi Marion,

If I compair the prices on the Ireland Apple store website and that of HK, I see the following.

The 15GB model costs EURO 349,-- in Ireland and EURO 247,-- in Hong Kong. (HK$2400,--)

The 40GB model costs EURO 549,-- in Ireland and EURO 401,-- in Hong Kong. (HK$ 3900,--)

In other words... BUY IN HK!!! 8)

Gary

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wow, just found this forum and found some very good information. I've got a few friends going to hong kong in 2weeks and they asked if i wanted anything. I dont really need anything that bad, but since the prices are so good i cant refuse the offer. I was looking at getting a Video camera in the form of a Canon XM2 if i saw it for a good price and it looks good in HK.

RRP in Australia = $5500 AUD 8O 8O

However @ canon HK i see the RRP as 18,800.00 HKD = $3,113.00 AUD

Any idea how much you expect to save off retail for something like this? and then i gather there is the issues of imported items VS the geniunue item sold in HK :?

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^^^ that was me, forgot to login :).

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Hello Trza2k, There's more info about the "grey-market vs local" topic here, and if you go back to the fifth post on the first page of this topic, you can see some comparisons between list and street prices. (You won't always get such a range though - eg Apple seems to have managed to keep local street & list prices very similar for their iPod.)

Happy shopping - the Hong Kong economy needs you !!

MrB

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This is a great topic guys! It is so informative!

Just a quick question, I'm after a laptop and was thinking of getting it in HK. Is there a commercial website where they list the prices of laptops in HKD? I'd like to compare prices from GBP to HKD before I go.
I tried Fortress' website but they don't list prices there. :(
Thanks!

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All the main vendors have their local sites : [url]www.dell.com.hk[/url], [url]www.hp.com.hk[/url], [url]www.ibm.com.hk[/url], etc

That will give you an idea. If you look at their special offers those prices are usually the same as in the shops, though on standard prices you should be able to find some discounts by shopping around.

Cheers, MrB

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Thank you MrB! :D

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Is there any UK expats in this forum? Just comparing prices on laptops, would you say that it's WAY cheaper to buy in HK or just marginally cheaper?

Sorry for the vague questions, but was just curious. :)

Thanks!

Choosing a DVD player

Something to keep in mind if you'll be playing DVDs in HK ...

I wrote the first article after I'd just bought a new Sony DVD player, with built-in tuner and surround-sound amplifier. It had all the speakers, looked slick, and I was a happy camper.

The problem with it only appeared later - it is a very picky eater, and fussy about the quality of DVDs it will play. To add to the frustration factor, it often starts playing a DVD ok, but half way through it starts skipping and pausing before finally giving up completely.

Hong Kong is awash in fake DVDs. Whether you buy them, or borrow them from friends & family, your DVD player will likely have to digest more fake discs than real over its lifetime. The general wisdom is "Buy a China model, they'll play [b]anything[/b] !".

So, last night I became the proud owner of a "Super"-brand DVD player from a local store, for just HK$468. Sure enough, it happily plays all the DVDs that the Sony spat out. Surprisingly it has more features than the Sony. It even has an "Optical Out" connection, and after hooking that up to the Sony I still get the Dolby / DTS surround sound.

It isn't going to win any design awards, and as an added challenge the remote control buttons and their legends don't match up, but it certainly does its job.

MrB

cheap equipment

The Talls are just about to take the same step Mr B just described, i.e. get rid of our (fairly expensive) Sony DVD player, and replace it with something, ah, more flexible.

But on the other side of the coin, a cautionary tale: Mrs Tall and I went the 'cheap and cheerful' route in buying an LCD TV a couple of years ago, when they were just starting to become common. Instead of a name brand like Phillips or even Samsung, we got a 'locally made' brand called 'Konka', thinking it'd likely show the same robust characteristics as the VCD/DVD players manufactured in these parts.

Well, it's been a piece of junk ever since we bought it. Its built-in tuner is nearly worthless, and now it's regularly losing the signals coming to it both from our TV hookup and from our DVD player. It's essentially unusable at this point, and we're loathe to put any money into trying to repair it, so we may just cut our losses and replace it.

So beware! The DVD-player principle does necessarily hold for other electronic goods!

Notebooks in HK

Hi

I'm from the UK, currently residing in Kuala Lumpur and I'm surprised at the cost (or lack of) of notebook computers here. Am I better off making my purchase here, or should I wait until I'm in Hong Kong?

Could anyone advise me as to where the best shops are to buy laptops, and also direct me to any relevant URLs.

BTW saw a posting on I-Pods - here is the full story

- yes the software must be around the best at managing mp3's and playlists

- yes you'll like the 5 or 6 different audio formats and codecs the i-pod uses

- yes it is user friendly and has a nice "touchy feely" thing going on

**The battery is RUBBISH and you'll be banging your head against the wall when it runs out after a couple of hours. You'll be picking your head off the floor and gently frying the remains when you realise you have to leave it on charge for another 12 hours until you have full power again!!**

Zen Vrs Ipod

Hi Everyone,

I would actually dis-agree with you Elaine, having owned and used both models: I found the creative zen reliable, easy to use, easy to download software, music management was much easier and making your own playlists on the go, simple. Also, the playback music quality is exceptionally clean. However, the supplied headphones are not really up to the job of reproducing the clarity. Used with a decent pair of headphones, you never want to switch it off and with a TRUE 14 hours of battery life, it even lasts the long haul flights to London. All my family loved it, my ex-wife begged me for it and as I had heard from everywhere that the Ipod was even better, I gave it to her and bought the latest 20GB Ipod.

Yes the Ipod looks sexier and is a better size and weighs less, but that is all cosmetic. With it's own headphones it sounds ok, add a decent pair of headphones and it sounds terrible. (I recorded the same music from the same computer and used the same pair of US$200 Sennheissers). At first, the battery lasted around 7 hours (not the advertised 8) after 3 months the battery would rarely last an hour. The touch sensitive buttons drain the battery, if skip tracks, raise or lower the volume, use any function it drains battery power. Many times I had problems charging the device, problems controlling the downloads as it almost has a mind of its own.

I gave it away to my mum, who after just getting into CD's (62 years old) is blown away by the technology and amount of tracks it holds, but even she complains about the battery life and the tempremental operation.

I will now purchase a new Zen xtra, but what I really can't wait for is the new Zen Touch which is Creatives answer to the Ipod with a 24 Hour battery life and a touch sensitive button function.

Ask yourself do you want a fashion accessory or a durable, professional device thats a little bit bigger, but much much better.

When you pay more, you expect more, not so with an Ipod. :x

By the way before any ipod fans get on my case, I am a sound engineer and ex professional DJ (both radio and club). Please note: taste in music is subjective, sound quality is essential.

Laptops

For those enquiring the cheapest place to buy laptops. Buy in Bangkok, most computers are really cheap here. I just bought a Sony TR2 MP in London, which cost me UK

Trying to locate a willem eprom programmer

Hey all, I'm trying to locate a willem eprom programmer, as well as some other electronics devices which I doubt are probably available on a widespread retail basis. Was just wondering if someone here could help me locate a supplier in Hong Kong(That ships to the U.S.) so that I won't have to resort to an ebay auction to pick one of these up. If anyone could offer any direction it would be greatly appreciated. Attached is a photo of one of the items I'm trying to locate. Thanks ! TOORUDE

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=4661&item=3838311...