Never mind the quality, feel the price!

A reader sent me the following early this month:

I've been a long time reader of your site, and seeing as you have a fascination for interesting cut-price electronic stuff, I thought this site might interest you:

I'm not affiliated with it in any way; I just think it's an awesome place to get things for silly low prices. Obviously build quality isn't great, but I've bought some interesting little gadgets of there for pittance. Also check out their diddly RC helicopter section - they're quite a bit cheaper than most other places!

I buy random incredibly-cheap stuff from Hong Kong eBay dealers all the time, so I just had to try out DealExtreme too. Like several other Hong Kong gadget dealers - USB Geek, for instance - shipping to anywhere in the world is included in DealExtreme's prices. So you don't have to do the usual overseas-shopping thing where you look for other stuff you can barely justify buying, to prevent shipping being 80% of the total order cost; if all you need is a ninety-eight-cent screwdriver, you won't be ripped off if that's all you buy.

I ordered a selection of entertaining objects from DealExtreme on the fifth of September, but the parcel didn't arrive until the 24th. That's because it took DealExtreme until the 16th before they actually sent it. And the package was stuffed too tight, so the pair of novelty tea infusers I'd ordered were both broken.

But DealExtreme's support people replied almost instantly to my request for a replacement, and I've no reason to suppose I won't receive it. Although it may, of course, take another nineteen days.

(The DealExtreme "Customer Service Express" contact form makes you include pictures. This is fair enough, but it makes you feel a bit stupid when it means you're taking 20 minutes out of your day to get a $2 item replaced...)

You can find most of DealExtreme's stuff on sale on eBay and elsewhere, but they stock some items that genuinely are hard to find elsewhere. Their Nintendo DS accessories, for instance, include not only dirt-cheap tri-wing screwdrivers for the little screws that hold a DS together, but also several flash carts for running homebrew (or, of course, pirated) software on your DS.

Flash carts are notoriously hard to find on sites like eBay, but DealExtreme have a bunch of them. They probably even work, too, despite the fact that some of them are cheap clones of the R4 cart I use in my own DS. Apparently future R4 firmware may deliberately break the cloned carts, or even DSes using them.

Many of the other cards are R4 clones too, with a panoply of similar-yet-different names - ND1, M3, N5, K6 - and your guess is as good as mine as to which one's best. But at least you can buy the darn things, and get your DSOrganize, Pocket Physics, Colors! or whatever on.

And DealExtreme do indeed have a ton of other fascinating things. Toys, tools, bare electronic components (including lots of high-power LED paraphernalia), deadly terrorist laser weapons, stationery... you name it.

They also have an affiliate scheme, for which I've signed up. So if you go there from my links, I ought to get a cut!

17 Responses to “Never mind the quality, feel the price!”

  1. phrantic Says:

    I've been shopping on Deal Extreme for some time now. Their delivery is rubbish - even for a drop shipper - but they're so damn cheap. Pretty good for electrical components, I think. Also harder-to-find must-haves, like cheap batteries and small magnets for Throwies.

    It's also great that they have a "Weird Stuffs" section - that could probably contain a great deal of the rest of their site.

    [I'm shamelessly adding affiliate links to the comments on this post. -Dan]

  2. phrantic Says:

    From now on, when I order from DX, I order through your affiliate link!

  3. henry Says:

    I'll be using your affiliate link in future too - I spend about $20 a month on useless crap from there. My latest purchase was a wooden pipe. Thought it would be fun to have for only $3, even if I don't smoke :)

    [Needless to say, DealExtreme's "Cigar Pipes and Cases" category is a subcategory of "Hobbies and Toys". They're fun for all the family, kids! -Dan]

  4. Chazzozz Says:

    Aw, Bugger!! And I swore to myself (and my wife) that I wouldn't be abusing the credit card on the Internet any longer. So much for that promise.... [me quickly clicks affiliate link]

  5. tarhim Says:

    You, sir, are truly evil. This site coupled with cheap dollar means that my GF will kick me out of the house.
    (I will, of course, use your affiliate link)

  6. darkith Says:

    Yeah, Dealextreme has its pluses and minuses. Shipping can be spotty (although my order of 5 days ago shipped within 3 days, probably because I stuck to items in stock).
    Sometimes prices can be a bit high for no-name stuff, but then sometimes prices are really good. I've been buying servo extensions for a small rc tank electronics kit I sell because it's cheaper/easier to get the extensions than to buy the connectors, pins, & wires and crimp my input leads (even though I only need half the extension).

    Their micro keychain flashlights are also sinfully cheap and make a great giveaway gift, just test them as they do have high infant mortality.

  7. Jaymis Says:

    What a coincidence. I just spent several hours the other night trawling through DX looking for useful videogeek related stuff to post on my site. It really takes time to sort through and find the useful stuff, but their new search helps a lot.

    Some of their stock seems to turn over quite often, so I visit every couple of months to see what's new. Last time I looked there was an interesting range of useful bits and pieces.

    This time I found some new things:
    USB Midi Cable
    Bare SATA to USB2 adapter
    Gorillapod-style camera tripods
    Video over CAT5 Baluns
    Tiny LCD Monitor
    Weatherproof security camera
    (Those links are preloaded with your affiliate code Dan)

    Video can be an expensive hobby, so it's great to have a source for ridiculously cheap bits and pieces. I go through huge quantities of leads, cable ties, adapters etc. so it's great to save some money, which I can then put into a silly number of security cameras to use for silly video experiments.

  8. Changes Says:

    I'm addicted to DX: I browse their "new arrivals" page at least three times a week. After the last order (which I did yesterday - I cannot resist supercheap 3ch RC helicopters) I did some rounding up, and now I wish I didn't. According to my calculations, in something like two years I've made them richer by some €650. Yow!

    Then I thought that had I bought all that crap gadgetry elsewhere I'd have spent at least three times as much, so I'm happy again.

    I reviewed some of my stuff from DX on my site (which I haven't updated in, like, forever, because my writing efforts are currently taken by another project which has a slightly better chance of eventually producing some profit).

    I signed up for DX's affiliate program as well (my links in the aforementioned site are affiliate ones); it seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I get the feeling you have to have really ridiculous popularity for the affiliate program to make you a significant amount of money.

  9. n17ikh Says:

    Unfortunately DX only accepts PayPal - which for us Americans has started enforcing an old regulation saying that you can't import lasers over 5mW which are not FDA approved. So, all the lasers I'd want to buy from there, e.g. the cheap-and-cheerful high-power green lasers, are no longer available to me. This situation is getting ridiculous - I can carry around a freaking handgun but I can't get a laser to point out stars or do experiments with? Gimme a freaking break. Maybe I'll have to learn glassblowing - I have some old DIY books from the 80s on how to build multiple-dozens-of-watts CO2 lasers. The best part: It's not illegal to own or build them, just to buy or import! Ugh.

  10. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    Oh, they only take PayPal? That's out, then - sorry, Dan.

  11. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I've got to say, I still don't know what the big deal is about problems with PayPal.

    No, it's not perfectly secure. But in this situation it is, as far as I can see, much safer than the alternative.

    I mean, as DealExtreme themselves point out, the only normal alternative to PayPal is to give all of your credit card details to some random guy, in this case some random guy who lives in Hong Kong. If you use PayPal, all a vendor gets to see is that yes, you've sent them the money, plus your PayPal mailing address.

    If you're selling things, then PayPal can be a pain; as with credit cards, a buyer can just claim you never sent them anything and get their money back. If you're buying things, though, PayPal will almost certainly never be a problem for you.

    (I'm not counting people who get phished, or set their PayPal password to their user name with a 7 on the end, or something.)

    I've had my credit card details stolen - I think by an online store that I pissed off by complaining about a slow delivery - but the only problem I've ever had with PayPal, after receiving donations and buying stuff with it for several years, was one time when someone donated money and then claimed I never sent him "the product" which he pretended he'd bought with that money.

  12. bmorey Says:

    I've got an order in with DX -- they are very popular with fellow bicyclists looking for super-high-power LED flashlights to use as bike lights. I got the LiOn batteries and charge quickly enough but have been waiting a month for the 700 lumen quad-die C7 torch. Must be a popular item -- I guess a small torch that puts out as much light as a car headlamp (low beam) would be.

  13. Red October Says:

    Awesome stuff. I'm still trying to figure out what an electroinc cigarette is!

  14. Daniel Rutter Says:

    They're cigarette-shaped heaters that vaporise some sort of tobacco/nicotine pellet, so you can get your nicotine hit as with normal smoking, but without inhaling (and sharing with others nearby) all of the other noxious but non-psychoactive smoke components.

    "Smokeless" cigarettes have been around for years in one form or another, but they've generally been a hideous market failure. Now that strong anti-smoking laws are spreading across the world and Chinese companies are pumping them out at low prices, though, it's possible that they'll finally catch on.

    (Unless, of course, the cut-rate Chinese manufacturers are making them in such a way that they're actually deadlier than real cigarettes...)

    There's a slightly elderly but very interesting documentary on this subject, called Search for a Safe Cigarette.

  15. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    I have no problem with PayPal, Dan - I just don't have an account, and I openly admit to being Too Damn Lazy to set one up.

    If I ever do, though, they'll be my first stop for a bike light. Or two.

  16. terrahwk Says:

    Having just completed my first transaction with deal extreme I can honestly say that I am very happy with my "interesting pig shaped keychains". I wonder how I survived for so long without a pig-nostril equipped LED torch.

  17. Changes Says:

    I hate to rain on your parade, but the pig lights suck quite badly. I ordered a few, and I still have to see one with LEDs of matched brightness - plus the batteries are tiny and wholly unsuited to the job.
    The only good thing about the minipig light is that it contains a lot of empty space, so it's easy (relatively speaking) to mod it with a small rechargeable battery, and upgrade the LEDs.

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