Considering the Chinese Option

The time has come to recognize that China does not simply produce low price and low quality goods. Over the last few years, China’s manufacturing prowess has evolved and I believe it is moving on up.

In fact we all have, for years, been buying and using Chinese made goods with a certain degree of confidence. However, this has been because most of these goods are manufactured by or for large global non-Chinese companies like Nike and Apple. We, as consumers, trust in the quality standards of these non-Chinese companies.

Let’s be honest here: The only “real” Chinese products we have ever bought were cheap low-end products that we expected to see fall apart within a few days. In fact, up until last month the Honey Bee and I would never have even thought of spending our hard-earned money on higher-end Chinese products. Then something happened.

The Honey Bee and I were supposed to buy the iRobot Roomba since cleaning the house has become a real chore. However, a Roomba with all the features we wanted was priced at close to € 500. The lowest priced Roomba was € 300, but didn’t have a number of features we were looking for like the ability to program it so it self-activates in the mornings, a remote control, etc. And it wasn’t just that- I couldn’t get myself to hit the “Comprar” (Buy) button on Amazon because I just didn’t see the value in spending so much on what was essentially a glorified vacuum cleaner.

After days of additional research and debate, I came across a brand called ILife. Designed and manufactured in China, these robots seemed to offer all the features we wanted at almost a third of the price of the cheapest Roomba and at a fourth of the price of a Roomba with comparable features. It didn’t look ugly either; in fact, it was beautifully designed. We felt it was too good to be true. The reviews on Amazon were outstanding. To ensure that the reviews weren’t “purchased”, we checked them in different countries (US, UK, Germany, etc.). Everyone, everywhere couldn’t seem to get enough of it. So finally, we decided to take the plunge. We hesitatingly ordered our first non-low-end truly Chinese electronic appliance, taking solace in the fact that if we didn’t like it, we could return it.

We’ve now had it for over 5 weeks and couldn’t be happier. The little guy “wakes up” every morning while we are still asleep and cleans the entire house. Then he automatically finds his way back to his charging station and “goes to sleep.” By the time we wake up, the house is spick and span and little Nacho is back at his charging station. (Yep, that’s what we chose to name him). I’d definitely recommend you give ILife a try if you’re in the market for a robotic vacuum cleaner. Check it out here.

After our wild success with Nacho, I received a recommendation from a colleague at work about a great pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones. They looked really cool and I could see myself using them, especially at the gym where my current wired earphones keep getting snagged in the workout equipment. An added benefit is that they fasten magnetically around your neck when you’re not using them, so you don’t have to worry about losing them. After some quick research, I found out that they are manufactured and marketed by SoundPeats, a Chinese owned company. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been using them and I have to say they have more than lived up to my expectations. They’re super comfortable and deliver good quality sound at a very reasonable price. Check them out here.

So, there you have it. Two real life examples that demonstrate how Chinese companies are proving themselves to be reliable designers and manufacturers of medium-high end products, all at an excellent price-point. And trust me, that means a lot coming from me, because I pride myself on being am an extremely scrupulous researcher of the products I buy.

That being said, I’m not saying you should go all out and buy everything Chinese. My point is simply that the next time you’re shopping around for something, at least give the Chinese options a fighting chance; they might surprise you.