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Not bad for $10, but not really good.
on January 14, 2011
As mentioned in previous reviews, this is a copy of a German compass. It's sort of neat for 10 dollars, but, and this is the key thing to remember- It's not a good compass, it's a copy of a good compass.
Reading earlier reviews, it's clear that this product has gone through several iterations, paint colors, etc. It seems that the product has been modified over time to make it more appealing to the consumer, as many products are. There is nothing wrong with a product evolving and becoming better. The compass shipped to me has a "thumb ring" or lanyard ring mounted near the hinge, which accomplishes four things:
1. It can be used as a thumb ring, if you have very very small thumbs.
2. You can attach a lanyard to it, to tether the compass to its case or yourself.
3. It prevents the compass from opening fully
4. It prevents the compass from sitting level on a flat surface, for instance a map.
I chose the example of the thumb/lanyard loop/ring because it illustrates the central theme of this product; copies of good things are not always good copies. Or to put it bluntly, folks who know jack about compasses have no business building compasses. Adding features that prevent the compass from being used for its primary purpose are not improvements, they're un-improvements. A compass that won't sit flat on a map is not useful for navigation. You can shoot a bearing, you can follow a heading, but if you can't communicate that data to the map, you're not navigating, you're guessing. You could cut the stupid thumb ring off,like I did.
A few more points leading up to my thesis-
A. This is not a prismatic compass, as it lacks a prism. The German original has a prism, but the manufacturers have determined the prism to be unimportant, or too expensive. A small aperture has been substituted to allow viewing the compass card while taking a bearing. The aperture is located in such a way that performing these two operations together is difficult.
B. The sighting line in the sighting window is not aligned with the centerline of the compass. This would be the second most important criteria of the compass, with the first being an ability to indicate North.
C. The manual included with the compass refers repeatedly to features that the compass is lacking, such as the prism. I can only assume that the manual is for another compass altogether, perhaps a German compass.
OK, here we are, my point, finally. This is a compass, in that it points North, or at least mine does, anyway. Virtually every other feature is rendered somehow useless. All of that excellent German engineering, out the window, for one simple reason- the folks building this compass don't know a thing about compasses. They took a good compass, and copied it, but they didn't even really copy it- they just built something that resembles it.
There are a lot of counterfeit goods on the market, some are decently made and a good value, others are not. I have a Chinese made jacket, a copy of a jacket I could never afford. I like the copy- it's a good copy, and a good jacket. I don't expect it to last forever, but if I take care of it, it may be useful for years. Incidentally, the jacket from which it is copied is now made in China as well, but the price remains the same; five times what I paid for the copy. This fact alone was a major influence on my choice. I have nothing against Chinese manufacturing, so long as the product is useful for its intended purpose and well made.
The other end of counterfeit goods is things like this compass- just something that resembles the original, but is mostly fail. A product designed not to function well, not to satisfy the customer, only to separate them from their money. It's as if they had copied a car, but when you get the car home, you realized that the engine is just a chunk of metal with some wires and hoses sprouting out of it, and the tires aren't really tires, just plastic painted to look like tires. Perhaps the radio would work, so you could sit in your driveway and listen to the radio.
Which is what I would suggest doing with this compass- you could play with it while sitting in your driveway and listening to the radio. It's a toy, a compass-like object, a paperweight that points north. It's actually a crummy paperweight, as it won't sit flat on paper.