Taiwan hardware, computers, etc
I have a friend that is moving to Taiwan for a while. Will the prices of computers be significantly cheaper than in the US? Any specific stores he should visit?
There will be a slight discount if he knows how to negotiate. Otherwise it's no different then US and Canada. He can't use the warantee if Taiwan is not his main residence for the duration of the warantee. Any of the major stores will do.
I don't think you have the option of asking for english Windows by default, so you'll have to buy a copy. Another cost.
Is there any way to directly deal with the manufacturers to receive a slightly better discount?
Not unless you are an employee.
Taiwan is where the laptops are made, but as you will probably want a named brand for support you will be paying near US prices. For computers and most other manufactured goods the US is the cheapest place in the world.
I would second what Stephen Jones says, but always check the warantee. There are asian countries where the norm is no international warantee.
Yeah I would agree with your friend there Andrew, Nova for example wasn't being particularly competitive. However, they are in the middle of the city (it doesn't get much more center of the city than the Taipei Train Station) and they aren't worried about traffic. A lot of regular salary earners (instead of just geeks) go there for service and as long as they get good service they aren't interested in pissing off salespeople with arguing price.
I think there was always this illusion that you are saving a ton of money, but the two biggest basis for that illusion is that you can grab blank CDs and DVDs really really cheap--because the majority of the world's supply are made in Taiwan. If you stack up the german engineers hired into Taiwanese companies to baby sit all the CD manufacturing machines on each other's head they would reach the moon and back. The other major factor is basically pirated music and software. For the longest time Taiwan copyright laws were surprisingly lax, paving the way for countless hungry programmers and a crappy taiwanese software industry. After the law makers realize what was going on, there was some serious clean up in the last 5 years, causing all these famous places like Nova and various gathering places to stop bundling illegal software with their PCs or selling illegal softwares out right. Only a few stores really did all the pirating and once these guys were stopped everyone started to sell software the way the North Americans did--license by license. Yes, you can still buy stuff a little bit cheaper but I don't see it paying for your ticket there.
Are the keyboards the same as the US? I lived in Japan for a while and we had quite different keyboards with Japanese symbols on them and a different arrangement of symbols.
Keyboards are NOT the same. Trying to type Chinese without the extra symbols on our keyboards would send a person postal. There are extra markings on almost every key but the basic keyboard layout is much the same.
Do they have more keys?
Same number of keys.
People *used* to think East Asia was a low-price area for electronics, but I'm pretty sure that was in the days before the internet, when local stores would routinely add huge markups. Now you can go to Pricewatch or Froogle and find most common parts for very little over the manufacturer's price.
I routinely travel throughout Asia, and they are NOT cheaper at all. In fact, they are more expensive in western hotel or tourist areas precisely because they get westerners who just assume the sticker price must be rock-bottom.
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