Recently I was given a crash course in purchasing tech while visiting Sim Lim Square in Singapore. I thought I was a savvy shopper, but it turned out I had quite a bit to learn when it came to buying tech in Asia. Read on for what I took away from the experience and learn how to shop smarter while you travel:
5 Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Tech Overseas:
Of course every country and shop is different, but we've learned that it's very common to haggle, even for electronics, in many places overseas. This is especially the case in Sim Lim Square where you're able to compare prices from multiple vendors and negotiate the best price quickly. Of course while haggling be sure to keep the currency exchange rate in mind and don't get forget the difference between the local currency and yours.
2. Know your product.
Are you looking for a particular product, perhaps a camera or camcorder? It's important to know the model number for the device you're looking for as it's easy to get confused when looking at something that looks exactly the same but is PAL when you need NTSC. Bonus: knowing the model number for what you're seeking also makes finding out the price a snap when shopping in a large plaza.
3. Check voltage requirements.
In order to make this work in your American home will it require a converter or is a plug adapter all that's required? Knowing exactly what you need to make this work is important as the additional products required to provide power might eat into the cost savings. It's also nice to know because typically many of these shops sell converters and adapters and you can usually negotiate a great price for everything you need to make this work back home if you deal with it together.
4. Real vs faux.
No matter what the vendor tells you, unless he is an authorized reseller (which usually he is not when "reseller" is misspelled) most likely that "Apple" product you're buying is not from Apple. Odds are if there is an issue with this device, taking it into the Apple Store back home will not do you much good as it's a "fauapple" or faux-Apple. For things like the Apple international adapter set which is literally plastic plugs that slide onto the Apple adapter this does not bother me, but would I buy something more expensive that I'd be cross if it broke? Probably not. This is a more common problem with Apple products than any other maker and it's easy to locate original Sony and Nikon products in Asia at fantastic prices. Best values in Asia for American and European travelers? Nikon and Sony camera lenses, power converters, and USB accessories.
5. Warranty issues.
A common item in many of shops are mods that alter your electronics, say give an LED glowing Apple logo to the back of an iPhone or mod your Xbox. Regardless of the statements from the sellers, doing modifications on your product does mess with your warranty. Sure this gent will be happy to take your iPhone apart and return it to you newly lime green and orange, but do you want to make a trip back to Asia when you need to replace the front, side, and back of your iPhone? A good rule of thumb as to whether or not something will mess with your warranty is if you had to take it apart to modify it. Sure some things are easy to replace yourself, like an iPhone 4 back, but not everything is as easy to bring back to its original state and if that part is somehow interfering with your device (like the LED Apple Logo iPhone mod) you can kiss goodbye the chances of Apple fixing that for you.
What are your overseas tech shopping tips?
(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)