iPad Fakes, Knock-offs, Copies, Clones: A New Guide

September 27, 2010

The Beginning

It was easy to pick the start of the iPod fake industry.  It started with the IPod Nano.  Soon there were literally hundreds of companies making mp3 players which often looked identical to the Apple original.  The situation is a bit different with the iPad.

First of all, the iPad itself is a derivative design.  It follows on a line of iPhones and iPod Touch machines and copies many of their characteristics.  It uses the same operating system as the iPhone, although this will diverge quickly as each machine has the OS more closely tailored to it.  Here’s an article from mid-2009 predicting (accurately) that Apple’s tablet would have a 9.7 inch screen.  And, we were told, here’s how it might look [well, a little heavy on the icons and a tad large!]

 

So it was no wonder that many pundits quite accurately predicted the form of the iPad and how its GUI might look: they were simply following what they knew of the iPhone.  They were more often wrong about the predicted name [iTablet, iSlate  and so forth] than they were about how it would look.


And even then there were others who might claim to have inspired the iPad design.  We had had tablets for a long time when the iPad was introduced, but they tended to run on Windows with limited touch control and sensitivity, and at a much higher price.
For instance, way back at the beginning of 2004, you could buy a Fujitsu Stylistic ST5000, which looked like this:



 

And there was a French article from earlier than that with a roundup of more than a dozen slate-type Windows tablets, including the VIA tablet PC:

 

 

 

And then there were ebook readers. The iPad actually followed the entry of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Sony etc into the ebook reader race.  Then the iPad suddenly became the ebook reader one had to have.  But people forget that in 2009 we had ebook readers that looked like this:

 

In fact this reader running Windows CE was a precursor of many of the iPad clones we see today.  Here’s another picture of it in mid-2009, next to a smaller reader:

 

 

 

If that screen was colour, it would be an iPad “clone”, pre-dating the iPad.

 

 

Form Dictated by Function

When you come down to it, the options for how a tablet computer might look in 2010 were limited by:

1. A desire to maximise screen size.  This means a smaller bezel.

2.  Fashion e.g. the fashion in TVs in 2010 was to have a narrowish black bezel around the screen.

3. The need to retain a small number of physical buttons, either on the face or the edge.

4. The need for the edge to support at least one docking slot.

5. The need for a touch-sensitive screen surface.

6. Durability, which dictates either hard plastic or metal in the case.

7. Light weight, so it can be held.

8. Screen dimensions which support an OS that works on iPhones, and also supports playback of movies and TV.

 

So, there were not too many options available to Apple.  And there are not too many options to other makers of tablets in the market.  Here is what we saw when the iPad was launched  at the beginning of 2010:

 

 

 

 

 

The iPad arrives: January 2010

A 9.7 inch capacitive multi-touch screen, 1024 x 768 pixel LED backlit display, with 16-64Gb of storage on an inbuilt flash drive. with 128Mb or 256Mb or RAM,  a 1Ghz Apple customised A4 chip.  Wifi on all, 3G on some models.  No camera. And no ability to run Flash video.

 

It came in a box like this:

 

 

And looked like this before you went to the apps screen:

 

 

The iPad has set new records in its first nine months on the market and has forced the rest of the market to take notice.  Suddenly MIDs [Mobile Internet Devices] are the desired form factor, in the sector where netbooks have ruled for the past few years.

 

Send in The Clones

The initial, knee-jerk response has come at the bottom end of the market, with iPad clones.  These are sometimes in a 10.2 inch form, trumping the iPad on size by claiming “bigger is better” or going the other way to either eight inches or (more often) seven inches, where the claim is “lighter, more portable, easier to hold”.  How can we tell the clones?  Often by the Apple logo on the back!  They trade on likeness to the Apple product.  Further up the scale are genuine rivals to the iPad: PCs in a tablet.  They run Android 2.x, Meego, Linux or Windows XP or 7, generally cost a lot more and have better quality control.  Generally they are not OEMs.  They are made or about to be made by Samsung, Archos, ViewSonic and more than a dozen other companies, in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and even Europe.  I will not be dealing with this group because, even though many may deride them as clones of the Apple iPad, they don’t set out to be so, but rather to be iPad competitors.

 

I will deal with the clone group lower down in the market.  The cheapest of these operate on the Windows CE mobile OS, used more successfully in GPS devices.

 

If you buy one of these, this is probably the prettiest it will ever look.  It’s going to be all downhill when you leave that “startup” screen.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

 

The Androids

Slightly further up the scale come the Android clone machines.  Most of the clones and knockoffs fit this description:

1. From China, and mostly from Shenzhen, the knock-off capital of the world.

2. Running Android.  If you are lucky, it will be Android 2.2.  If not, hopefully you get something better than 1.5 or 1.6

3. Resistive rather capacitive screen: resistive is cheaper, but also less sensitive, and can vary between quite tolerable and virtually unusable.

 

Here’s how they look.  This first image is of a clone, not the iPad.  Look closely.  In fact, it’s only 7 inches.  And it’s called an “aPad”:

There are lots of machines going by names like aPad, ePad, iPed, BPad, CPad, HaiPad, etc  You’ll find a number of such on eBay.  However, this next one goes by the fetching name of iRobot.  The screen is showing Android in action (well, it’s not in action, to be more precise, since it’s a desktop shot):

This one is the Moonse E7001, tilted to give the maximum iPad impression:

 

 

Here’s an example of clone packaging next to an iPad:

 

 

 

 

While the aPad box derives its look from the Apple box, it is at least showing the Android screen and an Android logo.  This next one takes the cake for Chinese copying.  It’s the  Zenithink, actually one of the better-performing clones.  But it manages to infringe on both Apple and Microsoft copyright on the same box.  Note that it’s ripped off the iPad name, MS Internet Explorer Logo and Apple’s iPad background scene, just in what we can see here:

 

 

 

 

This next one is an early, if not the first iPad clone, rushed to market within a month or two of the iPad.  It actually owes more to earlier iPhone models and in fact looks like a scaled up Airphone No. 1 which was an iPhone 3G clone:

 

 

Occasionally we come across an iPad “clone” which is not a clone at all.  Look at this eight incher with a much broader grey bezel:

 

 

So why does it figure here? Well, flip it over and this is what you see:

 

 

 

 

It might be white plastic compared to the real iPad’s (on left above) aluminium case, but our little tablet wants to be an iPad!

Now here’s a beauty:

 

 

The “new iPad” complete with both stylus pen and scroll wheel!!  Almost deserves success on the basis of the audacity alone.

Where Can you Get More Advice About Clones?

Quality control is always the issue in this sector of the market.  It is very much a case of “buyer beware”.  For this reason, self-help groups are essential.  Seek advice from others to avoid repeating their mistakes.  Here are three Android tablet/slate/phone forums in no particular order.  Click on the logo to visit the link:

 

 

And also this one, which is more aligned with a particular retailer and product range:

 

 

 

Where to Buy Them – and Perhaps Why You Shouldn’t

The clones are selling, and they are being made by the hundreds of thousands.  They really are the sort of product you should only buy if you can afford to lose the money you pay, or if you are of an experimental bent.  If you love taking things apart, repairing things, loading new operating systems on things, then you are a possible buyer.  If you are the sort of person for whom a computer is s source of frustration and terror, keep well away.  Save up for an iPad or one of the new group of brand-name Android tablets to hit the market later this year – and buy it from a dealer in your country with a proper warranty,

Having given lots of warnings, I present a list of possible sources, again in no particular order.  I recommend none of them.  You hear me?  I recommend none of them.  They may be perfectly respectable traders, who will go out of their way to assist you both before and after purchase.  Then again, they may not.  Their product may be durable, fast, reliable, and fun.  Then again, it might not.  Do your own research and decide whether you wish to deal with any of them.

Euogo

Chinavasion

Alibaba [may need to negotiate to purchase a sample]

AliExpress [a retail subsidiary of Alibaba]

Merimobiles

MP4Nation

PandaWill [link may or may not work in your browser]

ShenIT

JT Shop

DHGate

And of course, eBay.  The sellers of tablets like this on eBay are generally either in China or Hong Kong, or are acting as agents for a supplier in China or Hong Kong.  Again you need to ask why you are buying where there is no long term warranty – and if you can afford to lose your money.  If you are happy to take the risk, go ahead.  Enter “tablet pc” in an eBay search and you should pick up most.  Other possible search entries are “touchscreen” or “aPad”.

One last warning.  Some sellers of this sort of item want you to be happy, so they will agree with whatever makes you happy.  If you want it to be Android 2.2, some will tell you that their model has 2.2, even when they know it has 1.5.  If you want it to have 256MB RAM, they will tell you it has 256, even when they know it has 128.  Similarly, often some careless copywriters will copy English words as if they have no significance.  That’s how a product can be described as, say, an aPad, a Moonse, and an Eken in the same advertisement, or on the same box.  Then of course there are the cloners of clones.  We know that, in this market, skill in making a good copy is admired.  So, when one company sees a competitor make a good iPad clone, they rush to copy it – and they use the same name so that you are clear about what they copied.  What I am saying is that, while one iPad is identical to the next, one “aPad” may not be identical to the next, and may have quite different components inside.  In this photo below, I can be sure that the tablet on the right has a metal case, but the one on the left…?

 

 

 

 

 

How and Where to Find Out More

One of the most entertaining places to find out more is from Nicolas Charbonnier.  M. Charbonnier, or charbax as he is known on the net, has reviewed many of the tablets on the market.  He did seventy in a few days at one major exhibition!  His trademark is the energetic, idiosyncratic four-minute video review.  Here’s a sample:

More links:

  • There’s a site at Shanzai which specialises in the Chinese cloning industry.  Well worth a visit.
  • Engadget has an article on tablet computers which is also worth reading
  • And this CarryPad site is also worth a visit.
  • I suggest you have a look at Tom’s Tablet Chart (Aug 2010) if only to see what you might be missing out on by buying in the lower end of the market.

 

 

Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch! Open Source software and the learning process.

January 14, 2006

[Looking for the article on fake ipod nano players? Press here.]

This is an article I wrote about a year ago, for an online conference on education and new technologies. I commend other papers to you, and will be summarising some of them in future blogs. I will be updating this paper to reflect more recent events and trends.
iNet online conference papers

[International Networking for Education Transformation (iNet) is the international arm of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.The Trust is playing a key role in the transformation of secondary education in England and features one of the largest networks of schools in the world.]

Opening Remarks
This paper sets out to provoke discussion and debate.

Some of what I say will be rejected out of hand by any number of readers. Some will reject the notion that programs that don’t come from big multinational companies could “work”. Still others will say that open source programs are not user-friendly or stable enough for schools. Some of these arguments are valid. However, we know as educators that it is important not to dismiss ideas out of hand, simply because they are open to challenge. Without challenge, we keep doing what we always did. My aim is to encourage debate, and open up some possibilities for those who (like me when I was in a school) know little or nothing about open source software. Now, let me take aside for a second those who (like me two years ago) think of open source software as “for geeks only”. You think open source means terminal windows and command-line typing with arcane commands? All jargon and symbols, and no pretty icons? You might want to look at this site, where there is a shot of the desktop I use to run most of my open source programs:

ScreenKDE

Ignoring the untidiness of the icons it probably looks comfortably familiar, like your own desktop.

Let me say, I don’t claim to be a “guru” in the area I am writing about: far from it. I am a “newbie”/”noob”, a real acolyte in my 50s, learning from people less than half my age, and enjoying it. I discovered open source software when I needed a driver program for my old scanner, and I have since had some small involvement in a few of the many forums which flourish around the world, with open source enthusiasts exchanging advice and learning.

I also want to make it clear that I am not naïve: I don’t imagine that open source programs are about to seriously take on the “biggies” any time soon, although open source software provides some interesting models for us as educators. Furthermore, most of what I say here is not original, or even very new. For instance, I (and I hope others) would be interested in hearing from schools which have already committed to using open source software in their everyday computing. I think that there are growing possibilities there that we should be considering.

Open Source Software is…
Did you know that you could legitimately get hold of a sophisticated office suite which runs on any operating system, and pay nothing for it? Or that there is a completely free program called GIMP which does most of what that other famously expensive photo-editing program does? I wrote this paper using a program called NeoOffice/J, a port to the Mac OS X operating system of a program called OpenOffice.org* . I got it for nothing, although I have since donated a small amount to the developers to encourage their work.

The suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database, and it is more than capable of doing everything you need an office suite to do. I didn’t need my employer to pay anybody for the rights to this program. I didn’t need to pay for it. I obtained it without need for secret codes or passwords, and without breaking any copyright laws. Any student could get hold of the latest versions of this program at home, and use it legitimately without need of payment. And they can help develop and improve the program, learning as they do so. I am currently helping develop the NeoOffice program by providing feedback to the developers – and they are listening and responding, sometimes immediately! If I had the skills and knowledge, I could get hold of the source code, and make changes to it to suit my needs. I have actually dabbled and done a little of that.

These programs are called “Open Source” programs. The “Wikipedia**” defines it this way: “Open source refers to projects that are open to the public and which draw on other projects that are freely available to the general public. Open source or open-source software (OSS) is any computer software distributed under a license which allows users to change and/or share the software freely”. These programs have been developed online by groups of people (mainly volunteers), who work together with the goal of developing their own software. Most, but not all, of that software is “freeware”, i.e. it doesn’t cost money to buy. It is called “open source”, because the source code is able to be modified by others.

How it works
This enterprise is not totally altruistic. There are people who make their living from this open source software industry, and there are businesses wholly committed to it. Many of them (like Sun Microsystems) appear to have a synergistic relationship with the “free” side of their industry, where they support the volunteers working on OpenOffice.org and its program development, then sell a more “refined” version of the program. As the Wikipedia reference puts it, “OpenOffice.org is based on the code from an older version of StarOffice that was acquired and made open source by Sun Microsystems with the aim of breaking the market dominance of Microsoft Office and allowing Sun access to rapid development at reduced cost.”

Sun initially “ open-sourced most of the StarOffice code-base. The resultant open-source codebase is developed as OpenOffice.org and is contributed to by both Sun and the open source community. Sun then takes a “snapshot” of the OpenOffice.org code base, integrates proprietary and third-party code modules and markets the package commercially”.

So, Sun continues to develop and sell its own parallel version called StarOffice alongside the free OpenOffice.org. To some extent, Apple has done the same with its new operating system. Its OS X operating system consists of two main parts: Darwin, an open source Unix-like environment which is based on the (open source) BSD source tree and the Mach microkernel, adapted and further developed by Apple Computer with involvement from independent developers; and a proprietary Graphic User Interface (GUI) named Aqua, developed by Apple.

Beyond applications and programs of all types, there are in the open source world whole operating systems, which rival both Windows and Apple OS X, and which have been developed as open source. Generally speaking, they are based around Linux, which is a Unix-like system.

What it might mean for education
This open source software industry has the capacity to play quite a significant role in education:

Firstly, there is the issue of possible widespread adoption of open source software. This is currently being driven more by governments than the private sector. In Europe and Asia we have governments who are adopting open source policies, requiring or encouraging their departments to use open source programs in their many thousands. This is scary for companies whose profits are tied to “growing their installed base” of customers. Just imagine if the US government decided to adopt such a policy! There has been a massive move in Germany to reduce the reliance on one or two huge US software companies, such that tens of thousands of desktops in government offices through Germany have been migrated to Linux operating systems ( see various articles on this via this source ). And being on Linux means that they have access to mostly open source applications, and not many commercial ones, certainly not Microsoft Office and similar Windows applications.

By way of response, we are also seeing litigation from huge commercial software companies claiming that open source software breaches (their) patents in one way or another. The battle is joined. In Asia, the impetus towards open source software is stronger for a number of reasons:

“Pakistan is employing open source software in public schools and colleges, and hopes to run all government services on Linux eventually. There may also be broader, geopolitical implications. The spread of open source culture affords some leverage for these countries when companies from the developed world bid for government contracts (since a low-cost option exists), while furnishing an alternative path to development for countries like India and Pakistan that have many citizens skilled in computer applications but cannot afford technological investment at “First World” prices. In this sense, open source culture refers to a new situation in which the power relationships rooted in traditional intellectual property are disrupted not just illegally (e.g. file-sharing or piracy) but also officially and openly, as free software can remove the developed world’s control of various technologies.”

“Whether this course of development is viable remains to be seen. The Ministry of Defense in Singapore began switching its computers from Microsoft to open-source software in 2004, while South Korea, China and Japan agreed to cooperate in creating new Linux-based programs. The makers of proprietary software in developed nations have followed these trends and discouraged the use of free software.”

I am sure we will watch these developments with interest. Some of our governments in Australia have made tentative steps in the open source direction. These have sometimes impacted on schools, but not to the extent it has in those other countries mentioned. On the other hand, some schools are already using Open Source software because of costs, accessibility and because of its adaptability to their needs.

Secondly, we have the potential of co-operative or collaborative development of programs, which provides an exciting real-life model of learning. You engage, you participate, you help develop the program. This can apply to teachers developing courses, teachers and students developing courses and programs, students working cross-sites to develop programs and courses: the possibilities are enormous. There are already students participating in software and course development like this. Are yours? I suspect this will be one of those instances where the universities take the lead, and schools adopt the model. Imagine the authentic learning you could provide for your students by allowing them to link up with other learners around the globe who are making something together, something that other people will use.

Many educators are also developing “elearning” tools tailored to the needs of particular learning groups or courses:

“Open-Source software can be freely adapted by any organisation or individual to explore a new idea about learning or technology, or to change the behaviours of software to address their own learners’ particular needs.” ( see http://www.ossite.org/ the site for Open Source Software in Education, developed by the EC sponsored SIGOSSEE and JOIN projects).

There are plenty of exemplars around, fostered by the open-ness of the Web, and lots of instances of the Internet being used to expand learning possibilities through “open learning” (see e.g. this MIT site, committed to OpenCourseWare. Again, current examples tend to be more tertiary-based than in high schools (or primary schools!), but I would expect this to change as exit teaching students come into schools with a background in co-operative course/software development.

Thirdly, in terms of the impact on learning and schools, there is the issue of intellectual/ cultural/ linguistic hegemony, adopted from Gramsci’s (1971 and earlier) theories of hegemonic elites. A google search on “hegemony” and “software” will lead you to a rich mine of articles on this topic. The general thrust of this “hegemony” school of thought concerns the ways in which large software companies can actually affect our thinking, prejudices and emphases by the way their programs run, what sites or functions they direct us to, how they demand we spell or phrase, what languages we use, what decisions they have made for us about important information or cultural artefacts etc. Until quite recently, it seemed likely that at some stage, a small number of commercial software programs would become predominant in schools throughout the world. The growth of the open source movement (in Asia in particular) now makes this much less likely.

If education is the next big global market, then software companies have their eyes on how they can efficiently control that market, and they do so by standardisation. On the other hand, because open source programs are open, they can be adapted to local conditions, and uses. They offer a means for educators and their students to avoid the hegemonic influences of software standardisation, while still developing the technical skills to be able to adapt later to any similar closed source programs.

Two of the key questions for this conference concern the use of new technologies to personalise learning, and developing infrastructure that is “reliable, sustainable and available”. The potential for a combination of open source programming and open course development holds tantalising promise in these areas. Yes, courses can be personalised, learning can be personalised, and yes, programs can be delivered that make the infrastructure sustainable and available. “Reliable” is more open to debate at this stage.

Open source software also provides intriguing possibilities in terms of two other “key question” areas: spreading effective practices between and across institutions (indeed, across the globe) and developing home-school links that empower the players in the learning process. Certainly, if the technologies are more affordable then they are more accessible, and if they are more adaptable to local conditions and culture they are more empowering.

Parting words
ICT enthusiasts are often accused of deluding themselves about the importance of the object of their enthusiasm, where their allegiances to their preferred software are rather like those of a sports enthusiast for his/her favourite team, or a motoring enthusiast for his (generally his) favourite car maker. In that sense, are Open Source enthusiasts like Trabant enthusiasts, or the supporters of the Irish cricket team***? Or are they actually onto something that might make a difference for our students as both global and local citizens?

Notes:
* Why the funny name “OpenOffice.org”? It was apparently called OpenOffice originally, but there was a trademark problem. My screen in the mac version, NeoOffice/J, looks like you would expect a modern, sophisticated office suite to look.
** The Wikipedia is an interesting case study in the democratic evolution of the Web. In itself it is a case of Open Source development, not of a program but of a free online encyclopedia. As it describes itself, “Wikipedia is a free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by people from all around the world. The site is a wiki, which means that anyone can edit articles, simply by clicking on the edit this page link.” I have quoted extensively from the Wikipedia in this document. Whether you believe that in its current state of genesis it has academic credibility is up to you to decide. I would have to say that careful reading of many sections demonstrates a generally cautious approach to the reporting of opinion and the differing views of opposing sides in the ICT debates.
***The Trabant was a small, low-powered, plastic-bodied car made in East Germany, now fondly remembered by a dedicated but not huge cult following around the world. I think even the keenest supporters of the Irish cricket team would have to admit that they will never command the attention that Manchester United does.

About the Author:
The author has recently retired after a career of more than 30 years as an educator in South Australia, including 15 years as a principal. His original background was as an English and Humanities teacher. Since retiring, he has had the opportunity to follow up a number of interests in ICT, including developing websites and talk lists, discovering eBay, and converting old super 8 movies to DVD format. This paper grew out of some experiments in Open Source software over the past year, when Adelaide had a cold, wet winter.

iPod Nano Fakes, Knock-offs, Copies, Clones: A Guide for the Curious

December 24, 2005

GM1500Tianzuo Technology nanoHR-663Spotted on Phillipines siteSkyblue WhiteDafongShenzhen Thomson

NEW: MY NEW BLOG ON IPAD CLONES AND FAKES

New iPod nano copies appear in China at the rate of half a dozen a week. Did you know there are dozens of companies selling look-alikes of iPods in China? I have recently been doing some investigation of MP3 players in China (don’t ask!). I am amazed at how many companies have basically knocked off Apple’s designs. There are lots of copies of the older iPod and mini, but even in the few months that the nano has been available, it has been copied numerous times. I have come across so many of these, I have lost count!

The nano copies almost all have less memory than the nano (as little as 128MB, only 6% of the memory of the smaller nano). If they have 2Gb (only one that I have come across has 4GB), it is composed of two chips of 1GB each. It seems that Apple has gobbled up most of the 2GB NAND and all the 4GB available in Asia. The copies claim to have Samsung NAND and Action ATJ-2085 flash memory controller in the main. Most have video capabilities (MTV) – unlike the nano – and many have FM radios. Because of the video, they are known as MP4 rather than MP3 players. Since they have video, they have a bigger screen than Apple nano, but I suspect lower resolution (128*128 vs 176*132). Some claim a built-in speaker.

They are generally within a mm or two of Apple’s dimensions, that is between 39-41mm*88-90mm*6-8mm.

The pictures of these machines, and their operating system/s [OS], suggest that there are only three or four basic designs, copied dozens of times. Most are made in Shenzhen in Guangdong province. Some have suggested that these could be using parts from the *real* Apple nano pruduction lines. I’m sure that’s sometimes the case eg with flash chips, but these units don’t use the same controller as Apple: they all use Action J2085 controller vs ?PortalPlayer

http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/nano.ars/4

The Action controller in the Shenzhen players leads to the stock-standard s1mp3 Chinese operating system

http://www.s1mp3.org/en/

I assume there is no way these players could run the ipod OS or GUI.

The NAND chips will often come from the same site as Apple’s, and the Chinese suppliers hate Apple’s control of that source, which they claim means their margins are only a dollar or two on each player

iPod or imPoster?

Some companies just use Apple’s own jpegs to advertise their wares, complete with the ipod GUI, as if that is exactly what they are selling. Those displaying Apple pics include among others:

The real nano?

Shenzhen LTC IT company: LTC

Tianzuo Technology Ltd

These are not actually exact copies of the nano [the screen is usually bigger, for a start], and you can be sure they won’t be running the same GUI [graphic(al) user interface] that the iPod does. However, attitudes to intellectual property in China are very different to those in the Western world or Japan. One manufacturer boasted to a potential buyer that a visitor from Apple had said their fakes were more like the iPod than any other in China. Far from worrying his audience, the Apple guy’s comments had made the manufacturer feel “very pleased”. Another seller, when quizzed as to why his 2GB and 4GB models were exactly the same price, happily and candidly conceded that his 4GB nano’s memory is the same as his 2GB nano, i.e. it only has 2GB memory. The only difference was that the 4GB nano had “4GB” printed on the shell and the package. How do you respond to such disarming honesty?

Packaging
A number of nano-copy manufacturers actually use packaging which clearly labels the product as an iPod nano:

Designed in California? I suppose technically the original packaging may have been “designed by Apple in California”, and since this is a duplication of that packaging…

With “Apple” CD’s

And even “Apple Software Agreements”

Boxes

They come in boxes with fronts and backs that say “Apple”

and they look like this

inthebox

The manufacturers obviously pride themselves on their duplication skills

..outside and in…

rear view

….

There is also one company with an interesting looking operating system on their nano:

DSM

Windows on DSM Nano

..or, if you prefer to read reverse Windows, there is this one

YD

The Most Common Fake

The most common design is this one, which you will find at twenty or so other sites, including:

Standard knock-off designShenzhen Thomson digital technology

Shenzhen Skyblue Technology

Noka Technology Ltd

Topfar Industrial (HK)HR-663

OneAudio Digital

etc etc etc: there are lots! They come in black and white, and even in blue, purple (!) and aluminium in some cases. There must be 30 or 40 factories churning these out to order in China. One of the more recent is Moonbow, reported in i4u.com

It would be interesting to know what the sales of the clones are like, but these are only a small number amongst the hundreds of different designs of mp3/mp4 players on the Chinese market. By far the most common fake in that market is a Samsung YP-T7 look-alike. Here’s the original:

Samsung YP-T7

And seemingly every second manufacturer making mp3 players in China has a model that looks just like this. Here’s an example, from Maxspeed:

Samsung Knockoff

Look on ebay and you will find huge numbers of these Samsung fakes…………..but back to the nano fakes…

The same company, Maxspeed, has bitten the bullet. It was recently selling online on ebay a product which was pictured in one place as a nano, in another as the “nano two” model [see below]…it even had an “Apple” number MA099LL/A etc, had 1, 1.5 and 2GB and took expansion cards.

….
Nicer than the original?

There are other “nano” models which are attempts to improve on Apple’s original model. I must admit, I prefer this one to Apple’s design:

Nano White nano style

In case the changes blind you to to the origin of the design, these tend to be called “nano” mp3s or mp4s anyway. I’ll call it “nano two”, because that’s what some of these makers call it. You can see examples at:

Shenzhen seapower electrical products C/L

Shenzhen China fast science and technology ltd (Hisure brand)

Da & Fong Industrial

(Nano One at dafong is a pic of a “real” nano)

And then there’s Bonrun, which has a dollar each way, with no less than three models which resemble nanos, with the one model designation, “NANO-005B”:

Tianzuo Technology nanoBonrunMk1

The model second from right is clearly wider than the others, with a larger screen, but never mind. The other two designs (the four views on the left are of the basic nano clone model, and the centre and right pic represent the other “nano two” model) can be found more frequently elsewhere around the place. The dimensions are usually much the same as an iPod nano, although some are obviously not as thin as the nano.

By the way, in case you hadn’t realised the seismic shifts occurring in Asia, A Japanese company is now producing [badging?] this as a t-pod. It has elsewhere been described as a knockoff of Mpio’s HD400

…and another

There is also this model, which is a bit more rare:

HY Technology (HK)

Nano does video?

This model has the advantage of having its earpod jack on the bottom – rather than the side like most other nano-fakes – which probably means skins and covers designed for the nano will fit it without alteration. However, on HY’s own Shenzhen website it’s shown in a more familiar guise

Real Nano?

Likely Impact: Very Little?

As you might expect, these sell for less than the Apple, but the price differential is less than you might predict. The case and workings are put together for 20USD or so, but the manufacturers claim flash memory costs them 45-48USD for 1GB there, compared to Apple’s costs of about 54USD for 2GB, acccording to a well-known and oft-quoted report by isuppli:

So, while they are undoubtedly popular in China, and appear commonly on eBay (generally for about 100-130USD for a 1GB, 80-110USD for 512MB models), they do not appear to have enough of a price advantage to make big inroads into Apple’s profits. They might also be said to lack in the area of a GUI, and in comparison with Apple’s click-wheel technology. Are there hundreds of engineers in Shenzhen currently trying to clone the iPod’s GUI to run on Action controllers, or reverse-engineering click-wheels?
Apple may be more concerned by this due-for-release item from a more highly-credentialled competitor, the SanDisk Sansa e200,

Sansae200

spotted by a macrumors reader. This player apparently will come with everything the nano does [except the all-important ipod cachet, the OS/GUi, the AAC compatability], it has 2/4/6GB, does movies and FM radio, takes expansion cards (SanDisk’s of course) and has a big screen. And they boast it has a special coating so it will not scratch! Cheeky? See their press release about the e200 series. It has quite similar dimensions to the nano at 89*44mm, but is twice as thick (13mm vs 7mm), probably because – like other SanDisk models – it has a AAA battery pod projecting at the back. That may appeal to those folk who don’t like a battery that’s hidden away from them, or who keep running out of charge when they’re out running. The press release page also has features of the c140, which is sleek, black, color screen 1.2 inches, FM radio, voice in, jpeg viewer, and offers 1GB at 120USD and 2GB at 170USD. Now these could provide real competition for the fake nanos themselves, even on price [try buying a fake 1GB nano on eBay for 120USD and you’ll see what I mean!] All they lack is movies, although the value of .amv movies on the nano-fakes is questionable.
c130
See also a review of the Sansa e270 here from LetsGoDigital

One last pic…some AppLe Pro headphones: with a name like that, they must be genuine!

AP ep

My Mac etc Blog

December 24, 2005

Pages from down under, devoted to Mac and Open Source Software.