Sunday, May 05, 2013

One gets what one pays for

On Friday, I casually mentioned to the Occupational Psychologist that I had discovered a website that sells gadgets cheaply (she's a gadget freak). "Oh, you mean Deal Extreme? [DX]", she asked. "I buy lots of stuff from there, like phone covers and protectors. It takes a while for the orders to arrive but it's worth it. And the shipping is free".

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had ordered an SD memory card reader (I may not have mentioned that I ordered it from DX). Whilst the card reader has yet to arrive, another order which I made from DX did arrive on Thursday: a set of wireless headphones and a solar powered butterfly.

The wireless headphones were for my father: he is very deaf and can only hear his television with the aid of headphones plugged into the tv. He had a set of wireless headphones which stopped working so I gave him a spare pair of headphones which I had at home; these have a 2.5 metre cable. As a result, he watches television by placing a chair two metres from the set and plugging in: not an ideal setup. This new set of wireless headphones was intended to allow him to sit further away. The set comprises a broadcasting unit (very flimsy) which is plugged into the television's headphone socket and the headphones themselves (which contain an in-built tuner, thus supposedly adding value to the set).

Once plugged in, I managed to hear the television for about 30 seconds; then some automatic function within the headphones caused them to change channel, so instead of hearing the television, I then heard FM radio. I managed to convince the headphones to output the television signal again, but after a minute, I once again heard the radio.

I took the headphones home, plugged the broadcasting unit into our stereo and played a cd. This time, I was unable whatsoever to hear any music via the headphones, although again I was able to hear FM radio.

I get the feeling that the broadcasting unit doesn't work properly; as this was the whole point of buying the set, it means that the set does not do its job correctly. On the other hand, my wife may appropriate the headphones so that she can listen to the radio....

I consoled myself by the fact that the set cost only $15 (with no shipping costs) so I wasn't exactly out of pocket by very much.

I bought a few years ago a pair of solar lit birds - these are bird shaped lumps of plastic with a little bulb inside which is powered by solar radiation. The birds are 'perched' on a long stick of plastic which is planted in one of the flower boxes on the balcony (in fact, I think that one of them appeared in one picture which I placed here). During the day, the solar batteries charge, and at dusk the birds 'light up' - it looks very nice. So I bought a solar powered butterfly from DX thinking that it was the same thing - only much cheaper.

I connected the parts and placed the butterfly in a flower box. Yesterday was very hot with plenty of sun so I imagined that the battery would be fully charged. Come dusk, the birds light up but the butterfly stayed mute. We looked at the box in which the butterfly came and saw that it could be powered both by solar means and by a normal AAA battery, so we took the plastic stand apart and inserted the battery. When we turned it on, the butterfly did not light up as I had expected, but instead starting flying around its stand.

In other words, with respect to both products, one gets what one pays for.

I think that in the future I am going to order items from DX which do not require a battery, such as the SD card reader or nail scissors. There is little that can go wrong with a pair of scissors!

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