Shenzhen - where tiny startups flock to incubate their products

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My next vacation may have to be here. It’s rather expensive to get stuff made in the USA any more, with the manufacturing being mostly by folks used to big military budgets.

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Yeah, plus all those pesky regulations designed to keep heavy metals out of the water supply and teenagers from working 14 hour days also drive costs up. Much better to export all that to China. Out of sight, out of mind.


Things are still expensive in Shenzhen, they are really geared for orders of hundreds or thousands to use for marketing or other gifts even in their consumer malls. Even with haggling I never got too much lower than Amazon.

There’s also the issue of the product largely being the crappiest quality. AC/DC converters with large fluctuations, non functioning cables, storage media with no actual storage capacity (just a program to make it appear like it saves files), viruses in products, etc. It can be a mine field.

That said, Shenzhen is a fun city with a nice balance of size, things to see and do, and culture.


Storage media is much more turing-complete than is advertised.

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When I can get ten CP2102 modules for the price of one FT232RL one from Sparkfun, I’ll buy from China.
When I can get a DC-DC module for $1.5, step-up or step-down as I please, I’ll buy from China.
When I can get twenty 3.3V stabilizer chips for what one (two if I shop hard) costs retail here, I’ll buy from China.
When a hundred SMD LEDs costs the same as a dozen retail here, I’ll buy from China.
When the Chinese vendor underdeclares the customs value so it sails through instead of getting stuck with the time and money consuming procedure on arrival, while the American vendor “is honest” and incurs me additional cost and (often way more expensive, time- and stress-wise) annoyance, I’ll buy from China. (Or Ukraina and Russia, they know there how to handle the customer, too, and they have a good stock of PMTs and Geiger tubes.)

And I could continue until Christmas 2023.

(…I wonder how many of the modules will be duds. From the five Li-ion chargers, two were; in both cases it was a miniUSB connector, which had to be replaced with microUSB one anyway.)

The price difference is a bit too staggering to not take advantage of, warts and duds and all.

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