Technological nirvana

Next to Japan and Taiwan, Hong Kong i THE epicenter of new technology. And that is one big reason why I really love Hong Kong already, technology-crazed as I am. Yesterday I made my first – but certainly not last – visit to the markets of the Mong Kok district. And you bet I was amazed! When you get up from the MTR (the Hong Kong underground rail system) you will find yourself visually attacked by hundreds and hundreds of signs and billboards calling for your attention.

Then you start walking through the streets, along with seemingly one millon others. On every street you will find a dozen or so of tech shops selling mainly mobile phones, PDA:s and MP3-players. Glittering counters with so many models of phones, etc. that at least I get dizzy. And that is also the problem of shopping here – how can I decide what I want and compare different models? The english of the salesmen (and -women) mainly incorporates geeky abbreviations (MMS, WiFi, 3G) but not much more, and the prices are rarely shown. This makes it very hard for me to shop – I want hard specs and clear prices to be able to compare. The best way would either be to learn chinese (or get a shopping guide), alternatively to decide for one model in advance and then just compare prices.

The main attraction of Mong Kok is the three story computer center. It’s crammed with narrow booths with computer peripherals hanging both in front, beside and over you. They sell stuff you normally only would find in suspicious online shops, and they sell it cheap and in great variety. For example you can find a plethora of wireless notebok mice, FM-radio transmitters for Mp3-players, ultra-thin keyboards, external hard-disk drives, USB-fans, mobile cases or specialized cables. They also sell laptops and LCD TV:s that would cause unbearable desire for any given techno-geek. One of the most interesting parts of the center is the illegal software store that sells pirated software and games. You browse through the software cases in a small room and write their numbers on a small note. Then you give your note to a guy in a counter and pay for it. In return you get a receipt containing a pickup-time and location. Ours where twenty minutes later, and when we went to the specified location a guy with a handsfree showed up, looking like a mafia guy, and gave us a hidden package of CD:s and DVD:s in exchange for our receipt. Very interesting concept of separating the buying of illegal goods from the delivery.

Anyway, my biggest problem now is that my mobile phone, an old Ericsson T65, died on me as soon as I tried to change SIM-cards. So I need a new phone. On top of that, I really need a camera – at the moment I’m relying on Claes camera. As I’ve mentioned, it isn’t a very easy task to buy these things – I want the best specs for the best price. I haven’t even begun looking for a camera (even though an Exilim looks really nice). So far I have found a couple of really cool mobile phones though:

Sharp SX833
Motorola MPx
Motorola M1000
O2 Xda Exec

Yes, I need another one :-P

nullSo, I’m now a proud owner of yet another laptop computer. This time it’s a real monster computer, IBM Lenovo Thinkpad Z60m, but let me first motivate this decision, which cost me in the neighbourhood of 12500 HKD/SEK.

Well. There’s not much reason. I was persuaded by my new found friend Patrick. I don’t need another computer, but it was so cheap! I couldn’t resist the offer. A widescreen laptop capable of playing the latest games for such a low price! It’s not even available in the rest of the world for a couple of months. To hell with my 1-year-old leased IBM T41 (which I still have to pay for). Call me crazy, but I had to do this. I mean, I can actually use the computer during this year and then probably sell it with profit when I get back to Europe!

So, the computer? You want to know more about it? It is too new to be found on the IBM web site, so here it is:

Processor Intel® Pentium® M 760 2.0GHz
L2 Cache 2MB L2 cache / Intel® 915PM
Memory 1024MB DDR2 RAM
Hard Disk 80GB disk (5400 rpm)
Optical DL DVD±RW Multi-burner (2X Max.)
Display 15.4″ TFT WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050)
Graphics ATI Radeon x600 (128MB)
Communication Modem, LAN, 802.11b/g
Media 3 x USB2.0, S-video out, SD slot,
3-1 card reader, IEEE 1394, IR, VGA
Weight 6.0 lbs (6.6 lbs)
Dimensions 14.1″ x 10.3″ x 1.6″
Battery Life 4 hrs
Warranty 3-year international warranty

The consumer heaven

As rumored, Hong Kong is the consumer heaven, no question about it. Let me elaborate:

  1. It’s cheap
  2. There are stores everywhere you look
  3. The stores are almost always open, many at night

For example, consider the following price examples (note that some of these prices only apply to me as a student in HKUST):

  • An IBM T43 Notebook for ~10 000 HKD (10 000 SEK or 1 000 €)
  • A BigMac Meal for ~ 20 HKD (20 SEK or 2 €)
  • A McDonald’s ice cream for 2 HKD (~ 2 SEK or 0.2 €)
  • Call from Hong Kong mobile to (most) other countries for 0.25 HKD/min (0.25 SEK or 0.025 €)
  • A bus ride for ~ 5 HKD (5 SEK or 0.5 €)
  • A decent shirt for ~50 HKD (50 SEK or 5 €)
  • A computer cable for ~10 HKD (10 SEK or 1 €)
  • A can of beer for ~ 3 HKD (3 SEK or 0.3 €)
  • A (pirated) DVD movie for ~ 8 HKD (8 SEK or 0.8 €)

Even though all these cheap prices, other stuff are still expensive (or the same price as in Sweden). For example, taking a beer or eating out is priced as in Sweden. Many mobile phones sell for the same price as in Sweden, although without the need to get a long subscription. Many ordinary foodstuff bought in an ordinary supermarket is priced in the same way as a cheap Swedish supermarket (although milk is more expensive!). But all in all it’s much more cheaper to live here than in Sweden, and I eat two or three meals out per day. Even though electronics of well-known brands aren’t that much cheaper the range of products is much greater.

I have yet only tasted the shopping experience in Hong Kong and I have still a lot to explore, like bargaining, going to night markets or visiting the largest shopping centras. What I miss is online shopping, but maybe I haven’t found the right web site yet.

If you want anything ordered from Hong Kong, don’t hesitate to contact me :-)