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Quality Concerns For Kingston microSD Cards 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the amazing-detective-work dept.
Andrew "bunnie" Huang, whom we've discussed before for his book on Xbox hacking and development of the Chumby, has made an interesting blog post about problems he's found with Kingston microSD cards. He first encountered a batch of bad cards during production of the ChumbyOne, and found Kingston initially unhelpful when trying to get them replaced. After noticing some unusual markings on the chips, he decided to investigate for himself, comparing the ID data and dissolving the cards' casings with nitric acid to take a look inside. He found that each of his Kingston-branded samples actually had a Toshiba/SanDisk memory chip inside, and that the batch of low-quality cards he received may not be as uncommon as he thought. "Significantly, Kingston is revealed as simply a vendor that re-marks other people's chips in its own packaging. Every Kingston card surprisingly had a SanDisk/Toshiba memory chip inside, and the only variance or 'value add' that could be found is in the selection of the controller chip. ... This tells me that Kingston must be crushed when it comes to margin, which may explain why irregular cards are finding their way into their supply chain. Kingston is also probably more willing to talk to smaller accounts like me because as a channel brand they can't compete against OEMs like Sandisk or Samsung for the biggest contracts from the likes of Nokia or RIMM. Effectively, Kingston is just a channel trader and is probably seen by SanDisk/Toshiba as a demand buffer for their production output. I also wouldn't be surprised if SanDisk/Toshiba was selling Kingston 'A-' grade parts, i.e., parts with slightly more defective sectors, but otherwise perfectly serviceable. As a result, Kingston plays a significant and important role in stabilizing microSD card prices and improving fab margins, but at some risk to their own brand image."
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Quality Concerns For Kingston microSD Cards

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:02PM (#31155828)

    That's a lot of conjecture based on only two pieces of evidence. That'll never put OJ away, Marcia.

    • by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:13PM (#31155948) Homepage Journal

      Only one place in Gotham City produces these kinds of chips!

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:28PM (#31156098) Journal
      It is, arguably, additionally significant that the Kingston reps went from "Nope, we're not taking them back, you already programmed them, your problem..." to "Oh, goodness no, they definitely aren't fakes; but, um, yeah, we'll replace them for you..." when Bunnie presented his results.

      Bunnie definitely knows his stuff hardware wise and(having been Chumby's man-on-the-ground for outsourced Chinese production for a while now) probably knows a thing or two about the dark corners of the supply chain; but his sample size is kind of small, and he could certainly be wrong in this case.

      The fact that the vendor folded like a cheap card table when he presented his conclusion, though, makes me rather more inclined to trust it.

      (Incidentally, isn't it kind of amazing that slapping a full 32-bit ARM core, with flash controller firmware, onto a flash chip is as cheap as simply testing the flash chip? Having been born early enough to see the tail end of the days when an 8086 box was a several-thousand-substantially-less-inflated-dollars device, that kind of blows my mind.)
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:38PM (#31156214) Homepage

        It's actually a very common scenario, even with much bigger vendors. Belkin and Netgear both just buy whatever chips are going cheap that month and slap them in plastic case, which is why they have V1, V2, V3, V4v1, V4v2 and so on revisions of their products all of which need different drivers.

        It's a way of pushing down costs. In PHB speak it's called being "agile" with supply. Particularly with memory cards which don't need drivers it is impossible to tell what chips you are going to get.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It seems like the major issue here isn't so much the chip switching(especially since all MicroSD cards should present exactly the same interface); but the wildly uneven quality. Bunnie didn't start his investigation for giggles, or because he had some moral objection to mixing chips; but because his product started failing validation at alarmingly high rates). If you are shipping memory cards that can't handle having a firmware image written to them, you've arguably crossed the line from an "agile" supply c
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DigiShaman (671371)

            And the sad thing is, they get away with it. Reputation be damned. Sometimes it's more cost effective to purchase three of the same device even if you only use one at a time. Basically, you treat them like fuses. When one blows (malfunctions), you swap them out for another.

            Time is money. In the fast paced world of IT, quality control often gets swept under the rug if your a small business. Sure, we all get pissed and swell a red face now and then, but we collectively seem to just except this nasty trend as

    • by nweaver (113078)

      Far from two pieces of evidence...

      a) A full lot (1K+) of identified bad SD cards

      b) A detailed forensic examination of 6 cards, including known genuine cards as well as known-fraudulent cards.

      c) That Kingston folded like a cheap suit BEFORE this blog posting.

  • Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by duncanFrance (140184) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:03PM (#31155834)

    "Significantly, Kingston is revealed as simply a vendor that re-marks other people's chips in its own packaging"

    And that is a surprise because? Of course that's what Kingston does - they don't own any fabs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Duositex (620105)

      I agree with this sentiment. Brands haven't had a 1:1 relationship between their manufacturing facilities for a long time. This seems especially true with the industry in question.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Its probably a surprise to a lot of people who dont investigate brands or dont understand why Kingston flash fails more often than other flash. Every so often we need to be reminded that "you get what you pay for" still works. Everytime I go to a deal site, I see Kingston RAM or flash on sale. I usually avoid them because I know they dont make their own stuff, but sometimes I'll pick some up for an application that doesnt need the best parts like disposable USB drives or RAM for a htpc.

      • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drachenstern (160456) <drachenstern@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:35PM (#31156180) Journal

        Wait, you mean that "ValueRAM" doesn't give the concept of their brands away? I use Kingston stuff because it's bulk and cheap, not because it's performance. Anyone else who does otherwise is amazing me with their concepts of brand recognition.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Everytime I go to a deal site, I see Kingston RAM or flash on sale. I usually avoid them because I know they dont make their own stuff, but sometimes I'll pick some up for an application that doesnt need the best parts like disposable USB drives or RAM for a htpc.

        You're under the impression that the other RAM or flash drives you buy are not rebranded? There are very few companies in the world that make DRAM in quantity: samsung, hynix, toshiba, and elpida. Similarly for NAND flash, it is only made by samsung, hynix, toshiba-sandisk, and intel-micron. Unless you're buying one of these directly, you are purchasing rebranded products.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        I usually avoid them because I know they dont make their own stuff

        That's ostensibly an advantage. Every fab turns out some turkeys and bad lots. If Kingston has good QA they can find and re-sell the best and reject the rest. If.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NevarMore (248971)

      I think its significant because it might actually help consumers make a better choice. In this case if I'm looking at a Kingston SD card and a SanDisk and the Kingston is cheaper, I'll probably buy it knowing its got SanDisk guts in it. It could go the other way, knowing that SanDisk gets A+ parts while Kingston is A-. But knowing that difference is important before dropping coin on something expensive.

      SD cards are a cheap commodity, but there are more expensive anecdotal examples like LCD panels. There are

      • by samkass (174571)

        I know that in photography it's becoming common knowledge that Kingston cards don't work and SanDisk ones do at the higher speeds. Some of the new Canon cameras that can record HD video and take 3+ RAW photos a second need fast memory, and many Canon sites will warn you away from Kingston. Thus, I think the A+ vs A- is more like A+ versus D- ... it's not QUITE a failing grade but not worth the reduction in price.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Isaac-Lew (623)
          What class of SD cards are you using? The higher the class, the faster the write speed (fastest currently available that I know of is Class 6). See this wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] for more information.
          • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Informative)

            by atrus (73476) <atrus@@@atrustrivalie...org> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @01:39PM (#31157228) Homepage
            Advertised speed class is different from actual quality. For instance, many off-branch CompactFlash cards do not support DMA - they are supposed to by the specification, but since little end equipment actually used DMA modes until very recently, very few people noticed. This is the same for SPI mode in SD cards (though not a requirement in microSD).
          • by Zerth (26112)

            SD classes are the minimum write speed, but are only guaranteed on a freshly formatted card, and the max speed is all over the place.

            Lower class cards can potentially be faster than higher class cards, depending on the manufacturers and usage of the card.

          • by karnal (22275)

            I always thought those class restrictions were too slow. 6MB/sec, really? It should be advertised as 6+MB - or, they could create "grades" above 6MB, since that's a pretty slow speed anymore for moving data around.

            I just saw a review somewhere on a micro SDHC card that had a transfer rate of close to 15MB/s. Still labelled "class 6" but obviously head of the class. How's a consumer to know that the card is faster than 6?

            • by tenton (181778)

              The class definition is the lowest speed. The 15MB/s may be a max speed rating. Case in point, San Disk's Ultra SDHC card [sandisk.com]. A card marked 15MB/s, yet is only a class 4 card. That means max speed is 15MB/s, but in some cases, it'll drop below 6MB/s. In fact, that 15MB/s is a read speed, it cannot write to the card that fast.

        • by jridley (9305)

          FWIW, Transcend class 6 16GB cards work great in both my Canon 500D (T1i) at raw burst and full video, and also in my Canon HF100 HD camcorder at full bitrate. Have bought 5 now.

        • by b0bby (201198)

          Well, I have an HFS-100 hd camcorder, and I use a Kingston class 4 SDHC card in it just fine. I'm not sure if 3+ RAW photos a second is more than 24 Mbps, but if not, I'd say you should be good. Maybe I just got lucky, but if even a class 4 card is ok I'd bet that a class 6 would work for something a bit faster.

      • by jank1887 (815982)

        the other thing to remember is that while this batch had Sandisk parts, another batch with the same product markings might have some other brand, and it might be a better or worse brand as long as it meets the Kingston supplier specs. ValueRAM indeed.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        There are only a few fabs in the world, so anything from a Westinghouse store brand to a Bang and Oluffsen uber-TV will have very similar panels.

        Um no. your example comparing Westinghouse to B&O may be accurate as B&O is garbage when it comes to video and their audio stuff is falling out of favor as well, this is NOT the case with know high end lines.

        Pioneer Elite plasmas or LCD's are very different from a el-cheapo brand. I've been inside a bunch of different brands and types and yes there are s

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JoeF (6782)

      Indeed. That has been known for as long as Kingston exists.
      They used to have good quality control, though. Apparently not any longer.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      And what's the problem anyway? I've always liked Sandisk media.

    • by b4upoo (166390)

      The message I get from this is never, ever, to buy Kingston products.

    • by amorsen (7485)

      Indeed. The only problem with it is that you sometimes get different products with the same ID. I remember c't (German computer magazine) berating them for doing this with RAM sticks back in the 90's. At least RAM sticks and memory cards don't need drivers...

      • by gregmac (629064)

        I ran into this problem before with Kingston RAM, where different chips were used, but it was otherwise the same part number.

        I had a bunch of identical systems, all using "identical" ram. However, a couple were having issues, and totally failed memtest. So I sent them back, and got new ones - and these too failed. I took them back again, and they checked them in the store, where they worked fine. Upon further inspection, all the ones that failed had one brand of chip, while the working ones had a different

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lobsterturd (620980)

      Why is this modded 5 insightful? I can't believe how Slashdotters' comprehension skills seem to be lacking.

      The point of the FA is not that Kingston doesn't make their own parts (that applies to every vendor), but that their authorized distributor delivered an irregular batch of cards that seemingly couldn't even handle being programmed with a ~50 MB firmware. These irregular cards just so happened to use the same controller chip as an obvious fake, which raised the question of how a seemingly reputable bran

  • rtfm? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    why is this news?

    • Just in - Santa is not real! Neither is the Easter Bunny! Most "branded" PC motherboards are cost-cutting versions of Intel reference designs!! Glass crystal is an oxymoron!!! I did not have sex with your wife TODAY!!!!
  • This just in (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sunking2 (521698) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:12PM (#31155914)
    Your Kenmore dishwasher is really a Whirlpool and Kirkland jeans are Wranglers. This is news how? Are we supposed to be impressed by this guys over analysis of what everybody already knew went on?
    • by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:13PM (#31155936) Homepage
      Oh, come on; if you had just used nitric acid for any purpose at all, wouldn't you want to tell the world? That's SO COOOOOOL!
      • It's cooler to use nitric to add nitrogen groups to carbon chains!

        I suppose it's actually hotter now that I think about it...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, the new kenmore's are made by LG ;)

      • by sunking2 (521698)
        Some but not all. Whirlpool still makes the lions share for them and there probably isn't an actual appliance manufacturer around that doesn't rebrand something as Kenmore for Sears. Of course all this makes this article even more lame than it already is.
        • Well actually I didn't know that Maytag ~ Sears until lately. Would have been nice, but since I didn't make the original purchase, I think that can slide too.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      Went looking for the information that that you assume everyone knows.

      I guess that since everyone does know that may explain why you can't find a list of who makes generic versions of what.

      You may find it for specific items like the ones you listed, and you usually learn this while in the store comparing different models and different brands. Outside of the store that information is hard to come by.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @01:10PM (#31156684)

      >Your Kenmore dishwasher is really a Whirlpool and Kirkland jeans are Wranglers.

      It doesnt stop there!

      Your wife is really a man named Todd in drag.
      Your Saturn coupe is really a Buick sedan with a slick paintjob.
      Your artificial heart is really a 1974 pool pump.
      Your premium dog food is just low quality Senior Chow.
      Your apple pie is really "Industrial Apple Taste #64" with some HFCS.
      Your idea of love is really some hormones and neurons going off.
      Your college is really just an expensive adult daycare.
      Your grandpa was really a drifter named "Smitty" who killed your real grandpa.

      Sorry to hear about your grandpa.

  • by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:12PM (#31155922) Homepage
  • by loose electron (699583) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:13PM (#31155934) Homepage

    The re-purchase of silicon at many levels is a pretty common thing. Somebody comes out with a good memory chip and the world buys wafers of the chip from the other vendor. Or in a final package, or pays for their name on the outside of the package.

    I have had several experiences with foundries taking a design, fabricating it for me, and then 6 months to a year later a "sister organization" comes out with a chip that looks pretty bloody similar. Then, when you do a tear-down of the competitor's chip (nitric acid and a microscope) and you find your design inside the thing. Lawsuit time if you can, but what usually happens is some form of licensing agreement.

    What I would question here is what testing of the chip was done after it was assembled. Test time costs a lot of money to do, and anything that can be done to reduce that is a common strategy. Sometimes they do "blind package assembly" (no testing at the wafer level) and do testing just after final assembly.

    In this case it sounds like they are doing blind assembly, and shipping out with no final test either. A shoddy way to cut costs.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:13PM (#31155938)

    It's becoming highly unreliable. Advances in error correction are plugging some of the holes, but you can expect to start to see real problems soon, especially with cheap brands where they don't up their controller quality (the controller has the ECC) to compensate for the low-grade NAND they buy.

    As to Bunnie, I was pretty sure he'd been around the block already. Of course Kingston just repackages other people's NAND chips. There's only something like 7 manufacturers of NAND, and even that counts Intel and Micron separately even though they both sell the same designs every time. What did Bunnie think was in iPhones and XBox 360s? Apple and Microsoft don't make NAND either!

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Yeah, I would've expected far better from Bunnie too. Anyone who would be even remotely surprised by this "discovery" simply has no clue about the way the electronics industry works.

      Chances are that Kingston isn't buying "SanDisk A-" parts - they're just buying the same flash chip that SanDisk and everyone else buys from Toshiba. Maybe SanDisk had some involvement in the design process with Toshiba, but to see this and assume Kingston is getting the "A-" parts or factory rejects is just plain stupid.

      He ju

    • by Temkin (112574)

      you can expect to start to see real problems soon,

      Soon? I've had so many Kingston thumb drives fail, I've stopped buying the brand. I have an NSLU2 hiding in a closet running on a thumb drive that's been running for years. It ate a Kingston thumb drive in a matter of weeks...

  • Slashdotted (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Yuioup (452151)

    Warning: Unknown: failed to open stream: Permission denied in Unknown on line 0

    Fatal error: Unknown: Failed opening required '/usr/www/users/xenatera/bunniestudios/blog/index.php' (include_path='.:/usr/local/lib/php') in Unknown on line 0

    • It's not nice to reveal peoples' root http directories.
      • by lxs (131946)

        Maybe he reverse engineered it. Bunny would be proud.

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        Security through Obscurity never worked.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:21PM (#31156036) Journal

    I really don't care from where they source their NAND Flash. Kingston gets a big plus in my book, because they are the only vendor that sells SLC-based SD and CF cards (also some USB drives). All other manufacturers just put MLC chips in their devices and hide this fact under a lot of meaningless glitz.

    FYI, the SLC-based Kingston cards are the Elite Pro line of SD and FC cards. It's the only kind I'd confidently use in my netbook as an additional SSD drive.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are no well informed. Many other 'brands' put SLC chips in their cards. SLC is more expensive and marketed to the professional channel. Transcend, AData Sandisk, Lexar and many other brands use SLC. In fact based on the information in this study I would question Kingstons SLC quality, because if they do the same thing with SLC that they do with MLC the controllers are cheap and reduce the performance.

  • ... and when I hit the brakes, it didn't stop! They were trying to tell me that it's only due to the packaging, but they don't want to admit that there is a much more serious underlying problem! I think we should sue the crap out of them! It's all because of capitalism.
  • I now will add Kingston to my exclusion list... This is starting to make sense. I think Kingston's quality issues are also prevalent in their regular product line-up. I've had quality issues only on Kingston products come to think of it... this posting now confirms my suspicions. Too bad they didn't repsond to the posters concerns because it tells me they don't deserve my business.
  • by GuyFawkes (729054) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:33PM (#31156164) Homepage Journal

    All they ever were was a slick rebranding excercise, with a useful online tool to select the correct memory if you were a dumbass.

    If you're going to buy rebranded memory at least do so from someone who puts quality first, eg Mushkin.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by sexconker (1179573)

      Muskin

      Mushkin is shit.
      Corsair is shit.
      OCZ is shit.
      Your favorite brand is shit.
      etc.

      "Is that memory shit?" flowchart:

      Does it have a rebate?
      | - Yes - Shit.
      |
      |
      Does it have a 1337 heat spreader, cooling fans, or LEDs?
      | - Yes - Shit.
      |
      |
      Do the specs indicate non-standard voltages?
      | - Yes - Shit.
      |
      |
      It may be okay.

      The open "secret" in the (system) memory world is that the expensive RAM is the defective RAM. If a batch is slightly defective, crank up the voltages, add a sharp looking heat spreader, sell it as super awesome f

    • Mushkin DDR2 didn't work with my last two motherboards. I ended up trying OCZ XTC Platinum Rev2, Crucial Ballistix, and Kingston ValueRAM. Those three worked fine in both. Right now I'm using Corsair XMS.

      @Sexconker: This Corsair stuff is only rated at 1.8v. Heatspreaders spread heat, which helps if one chip is slightly weaker than the others. You also have to factor in that every single memory operation won't be spread between all 8 chips on a DIMM. It might even be possible to have a relatively high throug

  • Extremely common (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Coopjust (872796) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @12:43PM (#31156256)
    It's extremely common... I've bought 4 Kingston MicroSD cards, all but 1 are dead in a year. A-DATA and other brands work fine, so I'm sure it's a problem with Kingston's quality control.

    Putting one badge on the top and having memory from another manufacturer is extremely common, but it's more surprising for a big brand.

    Kingston's warranty departmen was meh. I sent in a couple of the cards that were defective and got 2 more cards that died quickly a month after sending them in.

    On a side note, Kingston's rebate house sucks and Kingston refused to resolve a properly filled rebate rejection. With Corsair and OCZ using reputable rebate houses, working memory, and good, quick repair, I now ignore Kingston when purchasing.
    • by adolf (21054)

      Kingston has never made their own chips. Ever.

      They've always been a packager and a PCB maker -- a middleman to assemble the parts and sell them.

      It's a perfectly valid thing to be doing, and a useful one: I can get Kingston-packaged RAM for just about bloody anything.

  • Yes, they use other companies' chips because they don't have a fab. Most companies don't have a fab. They buy from whomever is cheapest, manufacture it, and ship it. Sorry they had a bad batch and had poor customer service, but that's par for the course nowadays. Did you stop buying WD and Seagate drives because they had bad batches? They sure as hell did, as did every other manufacturer.

    So I look at this post and see it as a hit piece. Why is slashdot even posting it?

    • by Tacvek (948259)

      Not having a fab does not necessarily mean you are re-badging though. In the memory market this may be largely true, but the fabs still have the potential to create designs from third party masks much like with ASICs.

      • I'm not sure why a company would hire another's fab for making memory. Memory margins are usually slim and require massive economies of scale. I can see controllers being custom made, but again, that'd be rare for something as cheap as flash memory.

        • by Tacvek (948259)

          I never said it was practical, or made economic sense, but it certainly is possible in theory. Perhaps in the event of an application needing memory with a different set of tradeoffs than is standard.

          I could almost imagine specialty flash memory for say filming, where you would be writing into pre-erased cells, and are willing to have an absurd block size (perhaps even the whole core is one block) since the flow would be write one, potentially ready many, and then erase all. Perhaps not a great example sinc

  • by rm999 (775449)

    I recall when i built my first computer in 2000 that Kingston was a reliable brand at a reasonable price. Back in those pre-newegg days, buying computer parts was like the wild west, so brand was very important. The last memory card I bought from Kingston was cheap, but it stopped working within a few months. I read reviews of the card and realized it wasn't a fluke; Kingston had sold out.

    I always find it sad when a company that I perceived as dependable and trustworthy sells out. I can understand why it ha

    • by Renraku (518261)

      I wouldn't be surprised if the very people that have the gumption to fight and claw their way to CEOhood are exactly the kind of people that have no qualms about damning an entire country to failure just to get a few measly bucks and retire. While it should be written into contract, no CEO in their right mind would accept a contract that asked them to take personal responsibility for what is happening to the company. In fact, the more padded they are from the losses of the company, the more likely they ar

  • by rickb928 (945187)

    "Kingston is revealed as simply a vendor that re-marks other people's chips in its own packaging"

    Since when is this news? Isn't this known as Kingston's business model since forever?

    At least I've never known any different. I just trusted them to have better than average quality product, execpt for high-end desktop or notebook memory, where they were merely average.

  • ... I suspect that dissolving the cards with nitric acid probably won't help his efforts to get help from Kingston.
  • by Hadlock (143607) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @02:04PM (#31157632) Homepage Journal

    It looks like Kensington is dumping their defective parts on the S. American street vendor markets. I took a month long trip through south america this last december/january, and the one thing street vendors were hawking were 4 and 8gb kensington USB thumb drives for between $3 and 4 USD (converted from the local currency. I saw these for sale in Bogota, Colombia, Lima and Cusco, Peru as well as Rio de Janerio Brazil and in every tourist town in Uruguay. I ran into some swedish girls who were having trouble transfering their pictures from their camera to their kensington memory stick (of course I offered to help them). Lo and Behold, they had a Kensington brand thumb drive that couldn't be recognized in either Windows or Linux, bought in La Paz, Bolivia, and another in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.
     
    You could claim they didn't dispose of their defective products properly, but clearly someone had the foresight to ship at least two shipping containers worth of these things to South America. No idea about the distribution network, but it must be huge and well run. They were clearly new, still in the plastic packaging, and the LED would light up and blink when plugged in, then stay lit. With a flip around protective cover.

  • those of us, and I'm showing my age, who've been around for a long time may remember how Sinclair Electronics started up? Basically he'd buy up batches of transistors (remember them?) which had failed batch testing, and retest individual ones so he could keep those which worked sufficiently well. That gave him a better margin on his electronic kits, but also caused him problems when components would fail prematurely.

    or at least that's the legend around here in Cambridge.
  • So, for all those folks getting upity about what is essentially a common business practice (reselling products to relablers on the spot market which possibly include reselling factory seconds), what do you think should be done with excess inventory, and/or functional, but not perfect products?

    1. Bury them in a land-fill
    2. Spend even more energy, money, and resources to recycle the raw materials and build yet another widget.
    3. Sell them to relabelers to salvage the manufacturing value

    Seems to me that #3 is t

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