Currently we’re over in the USA for Thanksgiving which seems to be a curious mix of reasons to eat, drink and shop even more than usual. Add to the mix Black Friday and Cyber Monday and apart from the weather (it is truly cold in Chicago right now) this is certainly a great time of the year, especially for bargain-hunting techies.
The very first thing I noticed when out shopping, was the large number of huge 4K TVs available in the likes of Best Buy. In the Northeast of England, these 55”+ monsters are still expensive and far from the norm, with a few exceptions such as occasional deals at Aldi (our latest 4K TV is an Aldi purchase). At Best Buy, 4K seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
Here in the USA, 4K has taken off and importantly there is some quality 4K material available. I took this picture at Best Buy but you are unlikely to get the full benefit here on the blog from the 75” 4K monster TV picture above. Trust me, the imagery was gob-smacking.
As for 30”+ 4K computer monitors, don’t even get me started about rip-off prices in the UK not to mention lack of choice - even online when it comes to TVs. Best-Buy has them stacked up to the ceiling at very reasonable prices, sadly neither that large TV nor a brace of 40” monitors will fit into my travel bags and in any case, I doubt we could use these TVs back home,
Above, I bought an iHome pretty-colour-display, Google-Assistant-enabled Bluetooth stereo speaker with 9-hour battery, a USB studio Mic and an obscenely expensive SIM with 10GB data to see us through the holidays. (Most stuff here seems decently priced, mobile connectivity being the exception).
The USB microphone seems to represent good value at $25, not least as it comes complete with the licence to use Audiodesk 5 – which I found to be very good (I have decent video editing software but until now was missing comprehensive audio mixing) on my Windows laptop…
Meanwhile, here is but one example of the low-cost (compared to overpriced Apple and Samsung) phones they had at Best Buy… this puts the phones here on a par with my top of the range Chinese Xiaomi PocoPhone which is due the upgrade to Android 9 in the coming weeks.
Lest I sound like I'm gushing about American stores, let's keep this in perspective.... Best Buy have a wide range of glass screen protectors for mobile phones - which is good, but they are 10* the price I would normally pay for the same thing. I don't understand what I'm seeing as an aversion here in some quarters to buying Chinese-branded goods (even though most of the USA-branded goods in Best-Buy were made in China) and even an aversion to using Ebay? What's that all about? Thank goodness I don't have any of those issues given the miserable state of UK retail tech shopping.
Meanwhile, whereas back in the UK, along with crappy, limited-range electronics stores like Currys and not much else (even Maplins have given up), we also have crappy, over-priced, limited range supermarkets – lovers of brightly coloured food dye will love the imagery below of bright-and-cheerful breakfast cereal from a local supermarket.
I understand that food colouring isn’t the best thing for you but I HATE what the EU-regulations have done to the likes of Froot Loops, reducing a great product down to taste-free, colour-reduced cardboard.
If they’re that concerned about kids (they are not, really, as widely-available sweets (candies) don’t suffer from the same product-destroying regulations), by all means put the stuff on the top shelves but don’t tell me what I can and cannot eat! Check out this lot.. from one of the many huge local supermarkets around Chicago.
I intend to make the best of my time here while continuing my reduced-quantity diet. Crunch Berries, All Berries, Peanut butter Crunch, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Krave, Captain Crunch, Donut Shop, Froot Loops, Dyno-Bites, Tootie-Fruities, Trix, need I say more?
Such a shame that with an obviously thriving consumer market here in the states, there is also a completely self-serving pharmaceutical industry. We just got charged more for a month’s worth of blood thinners than I paid for my last mobile phone. Sadly the product (Xarelto) is still in the patent period and hence one company has the monopoly and can charge whatever they like. Doesn’t seem like a good way to keep a nation healthy. Had it not been for a very helpful medical relative, the cost would have been notably worse.