Chinese Imports: No Longer Just Cheap and Inferior? | The Thinking Blog ~ Knowledge Grows When Shared
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12 August 2007

Chinese Imports: No Longer Just Cheap and Inferior?

Due to its vast population and its rapidly growing economy, China is often considered by commentators as an emerging superpower. It's the world's fourth largest economy, second largest exporter and there's no wonder why firms are interested in Chinese factories: low cost of production. The recent scandal of contaminated imports raised some concerns about their quality practices. However, are they raising the quality after their sales started falling down?

David Lynch from USA Today says
"it would be easy to mock Chinese aspirations to climb the value ladder. But Americans of a certain age recall in the 1960s similar doubts about the label "Made in Japan." Considering the turmoil that enveloped China for most of the 20th century, the mystery isn't why Chinese factories are having some quality problems. China is in the midst of an enormous transformation from an isolated, centrally planned, mostly rural nation into a fiercely competitive economic dynamo. Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, the country has overhauled thousands of laws and regulations to bring itself into conformance with the global economy's dictates."

Not sure if it is only me but I'm some how getting convinced that quality has improved over the last few years with Chinese products. Here is an example from my experience. The other day I was roaming around the shops looking for a good quality headphones and I don't mean good quality from its looks but actually sounds good. I was looking for one with higher frequency response than average. They "respond" better to audio, portraying even more subtle layers of sound. In other words, they are high fidelity, enhancing the sound towards perfection. Most are between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz which is bad because they don't have good bass (low notes), nor good treble (high notes) for that matter. Keep in mind though, some marketed claims of having frequency response lower than 20 Hz can be overstatements.

Snopy Headphones
Outside a shop I saw a collection of American, Japanese, and of course, Chinese goods. The moment I entered the shop, I was instantly attracted to Sony's DJ headphones (in flashy packaging) which had a frequency between 14 Hz and 22,000Hz. I later find out that it is actually the most expensive piece in the shop with a price tag of a whooping $220 . After looking around for a good 15 minutes, I find this brand called "Snopy" in pretty simple packaging. "Another generic Chinese brand" I thought at first and looked at its specs having no hope of finding something that is reasonably priced. To my surprise, this one had even better frequency than Sony: 8 Hz to 22,000 Hz. Like I mentioned before, this might not be an impressive feat and the figures could be inflated. However, I was impressed when I heard its price: only $6!

Product PackagingI had nothing to lose so I bought it without thinking twice but I was curious to find out how it sounded and how long it would last me. When I arrived home and connected it to my computer, it was simply amazing. Seriously! It was so good that I'm going to review it in this post. It's called "Snopy SN-822" and guess what; it's Made in China. Good luck trying to find the official page by googling it because I couldn't. Only a handful of Turkish e-shops appeared in the results leading me to think that the brand was created on-the-spot exclusively for Turkey. In any case, I think it has a good logo albeit it's made to fool people as a Sony. Could it be about Snoopy like in Peanuts?

Apart from the sound quality, I also liked how this headphone was designed with functionality in mind. The large ear pieces, which covers all of my ears, can be folded to save space when not in use. The height adjustment for the head seems to be strong since when I adjust it, it stays there (unlike some previous experiences with loose ones). What's more is that the 3 meter cable connecting the headphone to an audio jack is like a shoe-lacy material so that it doesn't get all mixed up. It is really annoying when you get on a bus just to spend the entire journey fixing the cable instead of listening to music. Oh and it has built-in volume controller (which is really handy) and a microphone that I didn't notice until I saw that there were two jacks at the end of the cable. Good thing it doesn't disturb me at all.

Verdict: I'm quite happy with this Chinese product. It's really good quality when considering its price. Moreover, I feel "safer" using one of these especially when such small electronic devices are expected to fail, break down or steped on anytime now. Even then, it has a two year limited warranty and I'm not worried if I ever do something to it that voids it. I could still buy 36 more of these "Made in China" Snopy headphones with the money I saved by not buying one original Sony headphone.

A country has an absolute advantage economically over another in a particular good when it can produce that good at a lower cost. Trade might not be mutually beneficial, but it's pure economics. I believe in free trade. May the best win!

Chinese ImportQuality ProductLooking SexyFunctional Mic

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