Looking for tech off the beaten path.
February 15, 2013 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I keep hearing about cool and cheap new gizmos obtained from Asia via ebay and other online sources out of the mainstream - inexpensive IPS monitors, Android set-top boxes, etc. Is there a good resource that covers these no-name wonders shipped to your doorstep from abroad? Articles, posts or blog entries about what's out there, how they actually work, and where to order them from would help... as would a guide to how to tell a scam from a steal, and dangers in ordering stuff this way.
posted by Slap*Happy to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Browse slickdeals on a regular basis and you will see all these things.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:24 AM on February 15, 2013

Akihabara News tends to cover a lot of that, but they don't do much in the way of testing or review.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:39 AM on February 15, 2013

Dynamism and their sister store Gizmine.
posted by Dansaman at 10:56 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Liliputing usually has good updates on new (miniature) gadgets and sales and stuff. I usually wind up buying them at Ali Baba or something similar.
posted by carsonb at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I ordered from a Chinese website, they sent me the wrong items and then refused to exchange them. It was a waste of time.
posted by jb at 12:23 PM on February 15, 2013

I've had good luck with dealextreme, but like Burhanistan said, they ship via slowboat.

I would warn you that support for these devices, especially android sticks, will be spotty in terms of software updates and the like. What they've loaded is what you get, unless you buy a device that is popular enough to get a fan following and custom roms.
posted by zabuni at 3:27 PM on February 15, 2013

TomTop,com; got a pen microscope for 99 cents; great for looking in my ear for balls of wax or checking my own teeth for calculus etc. Lots of misc. tech toys etc.
posted by buzzman at 9:46 PM on February 15, 2013

I've bought enough of these things to come to the conclusion that the rare gem isn't worth sifting through all the crap. Stuff that is *that* cheap can't possibly be made well. It comes down to luck more than anything.
posted by gjc at 5:16 AM on February 16, 2013

you could just go directly to the chinese equivalent to ebay, which is taobao. using google chrome you'd get an instant translation. even the search works with english characters/words if you use chrome. I would not recommend just buying without chatting with the proprietor of the individual shops. you need to use the blue chat bubble for that, which installs some software. and this is where it gets tricky: the chinese sellers most likely won't speak english.

my trick (I live in shanghai but speak next to no chinese) is to ask someone who speaks chinese to chat with that person for me. they basically ask about returns and confirm that this is in fact some person who at least seems legit. taobao is pretty good, they even show you how many items they sold this month. but you should have someone who can type mandarin. that shouldn't be all that difficult in most american cities.
posted by krautland at 9:56 PM on February 23, 2013

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