Lo­cal or global?

BEN MAN­SILL LIKES GLOBAL PRIC­ING WITH LO­CAL SUP­PORT

PC & Tech Authority - - FEATURE -

The smart­phone mar­ket is chang­ing, and it’s great fun to watch. When once the choice was lim­ited to brands we’ve been fa­mil­iar with for many years, and the trans­ac­tion hap­pen­ing ei­ther at a telco or mo­bile phone store, or con­sumer elec­tron­ics su­per­store, buy­ing on­line – maybe from out­side Aus­tralia – is now a valid al­ter­na­tive.

Chi­nese smart­phones are here, shak­ing things up with prod­ucts that are far cheaper, spec for spec, than the big­ger brands we’re used to from Korea or Amer­ica. In this is­sue I’ve re­viewed an Oppo and a Xiaomi, last month an­other Oppo and the is­sue be­fore that a Huawei. And, they’re all gen­er­ally ex­cel­lent phones, sold for hun­dreds of dol­lars less than a Sam­sung or Ap­ple, with, re­ally, lit­tle diˆer­ence in the ac­tual prod­uct.

Oppo and Huawei have been sell­ing in Aus­tralia for many years and both have lo­cal o‰ces and sup­port op­er­a­tions. Xiaomi doesn’t, yet, but it’s one of the big­gest brands in the world so a lo­cal pres­ence is only a mat­ter of time. The sooner, the bet­ter, I say, es­pe­cially in the light of my hands-on time with the Xiaomi Mi 6 this month. Top phone, but with a deal-break­ing fault, as you can read in the re­view on page 57.

Now, the re­view phone was sent from Gearbest, a Chi­nese on­line mega­s­tore. It’s worth a look if you’re chas­ing a bar­gain, the prices and range is se­ri­ously im­pres­sive. But what to do if there’s an is­sue? Gearbest will sup­port re­turns, but it’s a big has­sle. The com­pany only oˆers a guar­an­tee of re­place­ment if a fault is re­ported within three days of de­liv­ery, and you have to pro­vide pho­to­graphic or video ev­i­dence of any is­sue “rst, then pay for re­turn ship­ping your­self, and they won’t send you a re­place­ment un­til the orig­i­nal unit is re­ceived and as­sessed.

That’s just not ac­cept­able. Gearbest will re­fund you the ship­ping costs, but only af­ter the whole process is com­plete. Now, I’m not sug­gest­ing places like this should be avoided be­cause you can save se­ri­ous dol­lars, but the sooner we see more lo­cal pres­ence of brands like Xiaomi, the bet­ter. Sure, prices will creep up a lit­tle to pay for run­ning an Aus­tralian o‰ce and sup­port sys­tem, but look­ing at Huawei and Oppo prices lo­cally com­pared to buy­ing the same prod­ucts on­line from China, the diˆer­ence is min­i­mal.

LAP­TOP, CON­VERT­IBLE, TABLET OR 2-IN-1?

At Mi­crosoft’s launch event for the new Sur­face Pro re­cently, I asked just what cat­e­gory it “ts it into. It runs a desk­top OS, desk­top hard­ware in­side pow­ers it, yet, the key­board is sold sep­a­rately. Well, ac­cord­ing to Mi­crosoft it’s a lap­top. Huh?

Part of the rea­son I was ask­ing was to cover oˆ some sim­ple PCTA house­keep­ing – just what should we put on the top of the page for the prod­uct type, in our re­views sec­tion, when we cover such prod­ucts? See­ing as there’s no o‰cial cat­e­gory, we’ve de­cided things like Sur­face Pros are 2-in-1 ma­chines. In case you were won­der­ing...

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