Keeping up with technology in Malaysia – it ‘ain’t easy

I read my favourite UK technology magazines, and I see products I would like to buy.  But I can’t get them here, so I just give up.

If you want something everyone else wants – like a Samsung mobile or Samsung TV, or Panasonic air-con, WD hard disk, D-Link  network switch or D-Link Wireless Access Point…OK, no problem.  You can get them. But otherwise…

In the UK, the below was more or less my methodology for buying items such as PC’s, or parts for them, cameras, phones, TV’s etc. For example, a camera:

  1. Think about what I need the camera to do for me
  2. Read reviews of cameras in magazines, and/or online, and perhaps I will find additional functions I would like to have.
  3. Then decide what models would be suitable for me from the reviews.
  4. Go and look at these models in the shops for some kinds of gear, such as cameras. For hard disks and many other parts, this is not necessary.
  5. The reviews usually give the street prices, but check anyway with http://www.pricerunner.co.uk, Amazon, eBay, dabs.com,
  6. Check also appropriate retailers
  7. Considering delivery time, repair and warranty and after-sale services, length or time in business if appropriate, and previous experience with source, as well as price, decide exactly what to buy and where to buy – which particular online source or retailer.  Sometimes a higher price is worth what comes with it.
  8. If you decide on a retailer you may also be able to negotiate – for either a lower price, or for free or cheaper extras.

Now, this unfortunately doesn’t work in Penang or Malaysia. Many things are not available, or take a while to be imported.

You can buy and have shipped from the UK or elsewhere, but if there is a problem it is much harder to deal with. You may, or may not, be taxed on it. You can purchase when travelling if it is not too large, then ensure in either case you have an international warranty.  If you haven’t moved here yet, then buy what you need before you move.

It is generally easier to buy here once you are living here, provided you can get the item you want. However, most things you want you won’t find on the Internet.

So in Malaysia: Steps 1 – 4 are still the first steps, and if you want to check the UK price, then Step 7. And you never know, you may find it on the Internet here.

  1. Think about what I need the camera to do for me
  2. Read reviews of cameras in magazines, and/or online, and perhaps I will find additional functions I would like to have.
  3. Then decide what models would be suitable for me from the reviews.
  4. Go and look at these models in the shops for some kinds of gear – in many cases they will not be available.
  5. Limit your list to what is available, check online to see if others are available at all in Malaysia.
  6. Decide either to compromise or just give up and not buy – if your desired product(s) are not available.
  7. The reviews usually give the street prices, but check anyway with http://www.pricerunner.co.uk, Amazon, eBay; then check eBay.com.my and mudah.com.my, and simply google.com.my here for any products. Some things are cheaper on the Internet, but almost everything sells here at retail price.
  8. Considering delivery time, repair and warranty and after-sale services, length or time in business if appropriate, and previous experience with source, as well as price, decide where to buy – in most cases online will offer little advantage.  So you go to a retailer and buy at list price. Still, you can try http://www.pricepanda.com.my http://www.mudah.my/ etc.
  9. You may be able to negotiate a little something extra.  Try, but don’t be surprised if you can get nothing extra.

For months I have been trying to buy an external Blu-ray writer in Penang. Well, I found a couple of stores which sell them, but they don’t sell the blank Blu-ray disks, making the hardware useless for me. I don’t know what they are thinking. They never heard of merchandising? But I haven’t got one, and have lost interest.

Normally now, for a less expensive item it is the old-fashioned way. Go to a shop, see what they have, and buy the most suitable one. Or give up and not buy anything.  There is usually not much choice.

So now I have a seven-year old laptop, happily running Windows 8.1.  A Dell Latitude with 2GB RAM. During its life many parts have been replaced – under the warranty I had, but which expired two years ago.  A new screen, new keyboard, new hard disk…  But the PC labours on, and I am still happy with it. The downside is the battery has been dead for years, so I only operate it on mains. A battery only seems to last a year, and I got tired of replacing them. So I never move it. As a bonus, though,  it has a DVD writer, which on occasion is handy – mostly for reading CD’s and DVD’s. New laptops very often don’t have them – and anyway, a Blu-ray writer would be more appropriate nowadays.  It also has Gigabit Ethernet, which is hard to get now as they only want you to use wireless.  My house is wired with Gigabit Ethernet cable, and I prefer it to being irradiated by wireless.  I back up my PC weekly, as it is old.  And if I have to replace it once it has gone to laptop heaven, I have yet to decide what with.

2014-01-22 18.07.19s

a truly awful photo of my trusty laptop – notice fan – necessary to stop it overheating

My tablet is going on two and a half years old. An Asus Slider – which they are not making any more, but which is brilliant.  It’s heavy, and not pocketable, so I’d like a Nexus 7, which would fit into my pocket.  But I realise that when I take my tablet I am taking a bag anyway with my Starbucks flasks etc., so I am still going to be carrying a bag, and don’t need the Nexus. The physical keyboard on the Slider makes it almost a laptop replacement, and I used just it and my mobile when I lived in Berlin for a bit last year, and I could do all I needed. No replacement plans at all.

Asus Slider

Asus Slider

My mobile is almost two years old.  In the UK you could get phones cheaply on contract and so I’d get a top of the line phone every year. Here the discount on contract is miniscule, and as I travel more, being tied to a network which will be expensive to use abroad is not worth it. Thus I want a cheaper phone as there is no subsidy without a contract, that I can use for two years before replacing. When I travel I just buy a local SIM. The top phones cost about RM2,500.  My present phone, an HTC One V, cost under RM1,000. When travelling I have used it as my sole Internet device, for blogs, email, browsing etc., and it’s done a good job. But now it feels underpowered, and I’d like to replace it.

HTC V

my HTC V

The specifications I was thinking were:

  • camera good 8MP+
  • front and back camera – for Skype
  • camera flash
  • dual SIM if possible,
  • Android Kit Kat,
  • CPU ok (V= 1GHz) – Quad core
  • SD slot – 32GB+ possible
  • Big screen 5″
  • Screen resolution good, (V=800×480 = WVGA) -Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 2GB RAM (V=512MB)
  • Storage 16GB +
  • GPS
  • HDMI connection
  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
  • Micro USB connection
  • DNLA
  • Good sound
  • LTE

The Samsung phones are everywhere, but expensive, and, I hear, not so forgiving if you drop them.  I was waiting for the Nexus 5  (but which has no SD card slot), and was happy when it was finally released on November 1st – but it wasn’t released in Malaysia. You can buy grey imports, but they have no warranty and cost too much.  But three months later I am losing interest.  Technology changes so fast a mobile really is only new for three months, and after six months is already old.

The Motorola Moto G looks good, and was released on January 21st here. But it doesn’t have LTE.Similarly, the Sony Xperia C looks good, but doesn’t have LTE.  Both are under RM1,000 and otherwise meet my specifications mostly. ( The Moto X? – in UK but not here, it seems.)

I am thinking that after a little while everything will have LTE, and as the main competition now will be in the lower price range it will become easier to get what I want at a more reasonable price. If it is released here in Malaysia. Which brings me back to my original point.  If I can’t get what I want here, do I compromise or give up and get nothing? For the moment I think I will give up, and wait till I phone I like has LTE, along with the other features I want, and is available in Malaysia. For if not, I can’t see I will want to keep the phone for two years.

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