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Saturday, 9 May 2015

It's a Global Market out there - part two

My last blog was all about my purchase of a Mobile phone.  I's a OnePluse One - a Chinese brand, obviously made in China, and I bought it online from a NZ-based retailer with links to Hong Kong and other Asian markets.  The phone is still running great and I am still as happy as a sandboy.  See that last blog.

Fountain pen.
Lamy Safari x 2 
I just thought I would contrast this purchase with another I made around the same time.  I don't do much hand-writing or note taking, partly because my handwriting is of the proverbial Doctor Quality. Even worse, when I use a ball-point pen I cannot get much control and even I can't read the ensuing scrawl.  So I usually use a fountain pen which gives me better control, and then there is a chance I can read what I write.  Of course fountain pens are technology and boys like technology, so I have a small collection of Lamy fountain pens, mostly Lamy Safari models.  They are relatively inexpensive, great performers, and a bit of a styling icon.

Anyway I was searching the web for a retailer who could sell me some more ink cartridges (my usual retail shop is in Wellington and I don't get to his end of town often now).  What did I find but a link to a Chinese pen made by a company called Jinhao.  The particular model was a Jinhao 599 and my search had found it because it referenced the Lamy Safari.  Not surprising really as you could describe it as a 'homage to a great design', or maybe you could say 'a knock-off'.  I had a giggle and then, out of curiosity, looked for some reviews of the pen.  There are sites where people, fixated on fountain pens, participate in erudite discussions on the benefits or otherwise of various models.  Well the reviews were all positive!

Now my curiosity was piqued. You see the pens were really cheap, I mean really cheap.  On Ebay I found many retailers selling these.  I picked on one, IChina520, and splashed out and ordered 3 pens, orange, yellow and black, and a package of ink cartridges (although the pens came with a free conventional ink supply as well).  The three pens and the ink cartridges came to the princely sum of $NZ10.44.  With that I got a discount for buying 3, plus the shipping was free.

It took a couple of weeks for the pens to turn up, but they did.  Maybe the plastic quality isn't quite up to the exceptional quality of the $50+ Lamy, but the pens write very well, and sit nicely in the hand - that Lamy design is good.

I don't feel too guilty about buying these copies - I plan to give one to my 7 year old grand daughter, and I would never have considered giving her a real Safari.  Maybe if she likes it I will get her a real one in a few years time.

Take a look at IChina's shop and see the choices - they do other pens as well - some with a distinctly Chinese flavour.    

Monday, 4 May 2015

It's a Global Market out there

Well, I've been dithering over a new mobile phone for a while now. I wanted a good one (boys and their toys), with a big screen for my old eyes. It had to be Android as I am enmeshed in Google's world so Apple wasn't on my agenda. (maybe I'll talk about Windows Phones another day). I loved the new Motorola Moto X, the HTC One M8 was pretty good, I have been a Sony fan for years and think there Xperia Z3 is very distinctive.  Which one???

Along with all of these great phones I came across another phone from a Chinese Start-up - the OnePlus One. Although it had high specs, and was significantly cheaper than my other candidates, I didn't take it seriously at first as it was difficult to buy, and I didn't imagine I could get one here in New Zealand. Well I was wrong, there were some on-line retailers here (with obvious links back to Hong Kong and China) who offered the phone. So, being an adventurer when it comes to shopping, I ordered a top of the line 64GB White OnePlus One.

Love the OnePlus Company logo

 I received it just before Anzac day, after a small delay while it flew in from Hong Kong, . After charging it I switched it on and up came the OnePlus logo and Cyanogenmod logo (it's the variant of Android that it runs). So my first fears were removed - it wasn't running a Chinese language Operating System. The only booklet that came with it was all Chinese, so I did have a small fear there. But it was all as it should be and it even offered me the NZ English input option up front.

I have now had it for a decent period and it is everything it was advertised to be. Good build quality, excellent performance, and it looks cool (to me anyway). It did have one issue, the operating system was based on the older Android KitKat level and I wanted the newer Lollipop level. Well that too arrived, after several delays, this last weekend. The phone is now even better.

 I took a risk with an online purchase like this - but there is a NZ-based retailer somewhere out there if it breaks. And I saved myself a reasonable amount of money, although not as much as the US prices would indicate.

Just goes to show that the world is getting smaller and more competitive.  As a consumer I couldn't be happier.