Shopping at Sim Lim Square
Singapore's Sim Lim Square - actually a multistory shopping plaza - is no longer a den of pirated software. Nevertheless, during my visit yesterday I did see some crazy gear, plus a number of little-known hardware makers with a "casual" approach to copyright (pitch-perfect iPod Nano knock-offs were a particular favourite).
There are also now fewer of the cage-style shops and fewer vendors who bargain (though there's still some very keen pricing. I was able to pick up a SanDisk 1GB SD card for $S21 - $NZ20 - which cost up to $S60 elsewhere in the city, and often $70 to $99 in NZ).
But on the upper floors things are still agreeably old school. Veterans will appreciate the ladies with soldering irons still in situ.
Some of the gadgets onsale I hadn't seen anywhere else. Stuff like a Tamagochi-style digital photo frame that you wear around your neck. I picked one up for $31, and it holds 74 pics. Very cute. Also popular: wireless, match-box-sized spy cams, sheets and sheets of solar panelling (with USB adapters for transferring the sun's rays to whatever device), "privacy film" for cellphones (a hand-held version of 3M's magical PC monitor filter) and of course the good old 100-pack stacks - and stacks and stacks and stacks - of blank DVDs (good to see the locals are so careful about backup).
Also spotted: an atomic clock with a fingerprint scanner and on a more lifestyle, less James Bond-paranoid level, the Eubiq system that replaces a standard multi-plug adapter with this cool strip that lets you twist in individual plugs, then slide them along along your wall.
Then there's scads of hardcore geeky stuff I'd been hitherto unaware of, such as USB 2 to SATA IDE cables. And even where stuff is extreme but not unique - like 1000 watt power supplies, or the latest motherboard of every stripe - there are few other places where dozens of examples of each product are on display, ready to be pawed and picked through.
I took these pics on my cellphone, so they're pretty crappy, but a little local flavour:
Looking down on the first floor: a bit cage-like, but still the most formal area and known the "tourist trap". Heading up to the 9th floor, I was able to bargain down a 1GB SD Card to $S21 - compared to $S29 on the first floor.
The soldering iron ladies do their hardcore geek, DIY PC thing up on the top floor.
Yup. Okay ...
One wireless, minature spycam: $S45.
Geek and green.
One digital photoframe, worn around the neck and holding 74 pics, which rotate on slideshow: $S35 (which I bargained down to $S31, including a mini USB cable). I bought one of these for my toddler son. He loves it, though the manual did turn out to be incomprehensible pigeon English, and it took me a hair-pulling hour to work out how to load pics. Still, cool toy.
For those filthy pxts and txts ... where was it when Shane Warne needed it?
Sim Lim goes Martha Stewart: this wall slider system replaces a multi-plug power adapter. You twist in a power plug, then slide it along the wall to where you need it.
No freaking idea.