Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on May 11, 2018
Great book for people who want to know what working with manufacturers in Shenzhen is all about.

For anyone who doesn't know, there's a renaissance currently in computer parts. Maybe you're learning to program with Arduino or connecting parts to a Raspberry Pi. Maybe you're learning to solder a kit and need a cheap LCP screen. Maybe you have the next big idea for a connected IoT device. Any computer part you want- an mp3 player board, capacitors, SD card readers, sky's the limit- can be gotten from China at jaw-dropping-low prices. But, you have to know your sources. You have to be able to read a datasheet, to deal with ordering through Mouser or AliExpress, and to avoid dangerous counterfeits. If you're in this world, you must read this book. Do it now.

Pros: Gives you real-world tours of Chinese factories and processes, warts and all. The author ended up working right on the line, teaching assembly line workers how to debug his product or how to install anti-RF "cans" to protect his chips. This is the 100% down and dirty of how Chinese knockoff electronics work, how they're made, and how you can take advantage of this market to get your product made. He talks about combing through racks of knockoff SD cards and discovering which were counterfeit- and sometimes even the company responsible was reselling these counterfeit parts! The counterfeit SD cards were breaking his devices, so there's a ton to learn and study on how supply lines work and how to operate safely when sourcing parts for a product.

Cons: The product the author was making for most of the book is Chumby... which was terrible. It's an overly expensive internet device. It's wrapped in Italian leather and priced like a premium product, yet it has a terrible low-resolution screen seriously limiting its uses. It's just a bad idea all over. You kind of wish he was making a product that had some market feasibility, because it makes you distrust his judgement elsewhere. I think his hardware skills are all in order so I trust his factory stories, but the kid is/was terrible at reading the market before launching a product.

Overall, it's a must-read for hardware hackers. I really want to do a field trip to Shenzhen and buy a $5 cell phone just to play with it. Maybe get a sleeve of SD cards just to see how many actually work. Who knows what you'll find.
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