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Research Topic: What are the nicest web sites to buy flash memory cards from?

By Ian Mander, 21 May 2008, last updated 18 December 2010.

Being in the market to buy several different types of flash memory cards, I decided to do a survey of which online shops were the "nicest" to buy them from. I didn't look so much at price here (except when a particular card was sold out), but instead I considered the way the site operated - things like (but not limited to):

  • Did the site operate in a way that made sense?
  • Did the site give me all the information I needed to know, especially with regard to GST and shipping?
  • Could I see exactly how much I would need to pay? (And how to pay, as many of the sites do not accept credit cards.)
  • Am I forced to shop for brand? (I'm really not fussy about what brand I get. Why do so many shops seem to believe that brand is the most important factor?)

New Zealand law states that if GST is not included in a price that should be clearly stated, so whether GST inclusion was clearly stated was an important factor.

The surprising (initial) result is that no site was particularly good. There weren't any that jumped out at me as being a really nice place to shop. And some were real stinkers. It sadly puts me off wanting to buy flash memory cards online. Also note that these reviews don't take into consideration how reliable the traders are.

Memory card prices in New Zealand (in NZ$)

  • PriceSpy's memory card price list. This site still seems to have the most up to date information.
  • PriceMe also has memory card prices, but their sort by price feature doesn't yet manage to do that.
  • ShopBot has a reasonably nice-looking memory card price page, but they lack the ability to sort by card capacity.

Information about flash memory card types

On this page: Ratings Key | Ratings | Not Rated


Ratings Key

Since I added the comments to each tick or cross I think this key may now be superfluous.

Site GST Stock Lists Shopping cart Shipping Total cost Site Other
Ratings Key Clearly stating GST inclusive prices.
Not clearly stating on all relevant pages whether GST is included or excluded.
Only listing GST exclusive prices.
All desired products in stock.
Out of stock items listed with a reasonable number of days to restock.
Desired products out of stock.
Restock information not shown.
Cards separated by type (not necessarily on separate pages).
Cards ordered (or orderable) by price.
Card types not separate.
Cards not ordered, or ordered by name/title alphabetically.
Products only listed by brand.
"Buy NOW" (etc) buttons instead of "Add to Cart" buttons.
Cannot add products to cart without logging in.
Shipping page clearly states shipping costs, OR shipping page explains that it varies and will be shown in the cart (without having to log in).
Buyer pick up option.
No shipping page or shipping not clearly stated on shipping page.
Cart shows total price including shipping and GST without having to log in.
Payment options clearly explained.
Cart does not include shipping.
Cart does not give total cost.
Unclear payment information.
Easy to use site navigation.
Good looking site.
Difficult to use navigation.
Poor site appearance, hard to read text, etc.
Broken links to manufacturers' sites.
Broken links on own site.
"Click for enlargement" pics that are the same size, or the same resolution blown up.
Other good features - above and beyond the call of duty.
Other bad features - eg, pages not working.
Summary: An overall comment, and perhaps the main way the online shop could be improved.

 


Ratings

Site GST Stock Lists Shopping cart Shipping Total cost Site Other
Dick Smith Electronics

Last reviewed:
30 January 2009
All prices include GST.
Card prices are really bad - more than twice the price of just about anywhere else I've reviewed, and three or even four times the price of some.
Items with limited stock or on clearance are noted.
Each card type has its own section.
Products can be listed on price.
  Shipping costs clearly stated.
Pickup is easy - there's very likely a branch not too far away.
An apparent bug means shipping doesn't actually show in the cart. (It's listed as $0.00 and the "Recalculate Order" button in the instructions doesn't exist.)
Credit cards not a problem.
Navigation is mostly very easy.
An attractive, professional-looking site.
Multiple clicks required to view all information for a product.
Hard to find and use "member" features.
Large versions of pictures don't vanish when clicking outside the pop-up window.
No standard breadcrumb trail, and what there is is not in the normal location.
Summary: This site has had another upgrade less than three months after its previous upgrade (which included being able to order most product listings by price - a great feature). The new upgrade meant the site is not quite the breeze to use it was. This is one of the few online shops reviewed that I would be pretty happy buying online from - if the prices were reasonable. The prices are shockingly bad. Note: Since this review was made Dick Smith have dropped using the "Electronics". This doesn't seem to have improved the site.
Digizone

Last reviewed:
1 August 2008
Doesn't list prices including GST.   Products are listed by type.
Can list products by price order.
  Clearly states shipping costs - free nationwide.
Can pick up.
Good clear payment details.
The shopping cart does not display the total, since GST is not included.
Easy navigation.
One of the best-lookng ZenCart sites you're likely to find.
Site can be quite slow at times.
Download of large versions of product pictures is very slow. This is not entirely due to 99% JPEGs being used.
Expensive.
Summary: A reasonably attractive site with an excellent range of storage products, let down in just a few important areas, including price and GST.
Dragon Computer Supplies Ltd

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
Option to show prices incl or excl GST.
  Cannot list by type.
Does not correctly order by price.
Uses a lot of screen space with brand information when ordered by price.
"Buy& buttons in both list and product views.
Can pick up
No shipping page or shipping informtion to be found.
Shipping not shown in shopping cart.
Total price not shown in shopping cart (but GST is).
Missing images.
I clicked on the "Brands, Batteries" links and got a really long blank page (with just the headers).
 
Summary: Too hard to find the products I wanted, so I gave up.
E One Computers Ltd

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
Only GST excl prices mentioned.   Cards separated by type.
Cards listed in no apparent order.
'Place Order' links (not buttons).
Shipping shown in cart.
No shipping page.
Total incl shipping & GST.
Very long navigation menus. No breadcrumb trail.
Broken link to Terms & Conditions page.
 
Summary: A very nice shopping cart. Navigation really needs to be improved.
Eden Computers Ltd

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
Has GST incl on most pages, and can select it in lists, but selection is not remembered.
No mention of GST exclusion on home page featured products.
Does not have restock info on product pages. All types together.
Cards listed by alphabetical title.
Cards only listed by brand.
'Buy Now' buttons.
Shipping shown in cart.
Retail shop.
Shipping page does not mention cost of local courier.
Total incl shipping & GST.
Both the blue and the grey text are unnecessarily hard to read, especially when it's grey on grey.
 
Summary: The look can easily be improved by changing the blue and grey colours, but more importantly, get those cards sorted into types!
Expert Infotech

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
Prices include GST.
  61 products with thumbnails, thrown in together - not nice.
"Buy Now" button.
Pick up option.
No shipping page, but info included on Payment & Delivery page
More complicated than average shipping should be included in shopping cart total.
Cart does not show total price.
   
Summary: Too hard to find the desired products.
Extreme PC

Last reviewed:
28 May 2008
Shopping cart does not mention prices are excl GST. Naughty.
Doesn't list prices incl GST.
Doesn't have many of the basic card types and sizes.
Has all their (few) flash card types listed under Memory Stick (which is a Sony trademark).
  Good shipping information, including maps.
Retail shop, can pick up.
The shipping page says they don't do international shipping but the shipping estimater on the shopping cart has a menu with a full list of countries.
Cart gives an estimate of shipping costs.
Very clear payment details.
GST and total price not shown in shopping cart.
Had to laugh at the ad which mentioned "Equipped with the latest nosie - deadening technology..." Of course, that should be "nosie-deadening" with a hyphen.
Thumbnail pics are actually the full size pics.
 
Summary: Not the best place to go for flash memory cards, although they sometimes have other good deals in stock.
FlashCards.co.nz

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
Prices incl GST.
  Products ordered by price.
"Buy Now" (not "Add to Cart") buttons in lists.
Shipping info at the bottom of each page.
Shipping not shown in shopping cart.
GST and total price not shown in shopping cart.
Tiny green text is hard to read.
Knowledge base.
Summary:  
Friendly Computer

Last reviewed:
23 May 2008
Shopping cart does not mention prices are excl GST. Naughty.
Not all cards in stock.
No times given until restock.
Card types are all together.
Cannot list cards by price.
Cards are listed in brand order.
  Shipping page has details on shipping options.
Can pick up.
Shipping options could be simpler.
A couple of bank account numbers given.
Shipping not shown in shopping cart.
GST and total price not shown in shopping cart.
Implication that credit cards are not welcome, but no definite information.
Nice clean, uncluttered appearance.
A search for "microsd" did not bring up all their microSD cards.
The street map looks like it's clipped from a screen capture of a map web site. Copyright infringement?
 
Summary: Initial impression was good, but it does some things really badly, like illegally not mentioning the prices in the shopping cart are excl GST.
LaptopBattery NZ Ltd

Last reviewed:
28 May 2008
"All Prices include GST!" (Except with a stray capital in there.)
Gives an idea of time until restock.
Doesn't always have the basic items in stock.
Can select just the type wanted.
Product lists have five prices in a row!
The first price mentioned for each product in the list view is actually the 20+ price, not the price I'm going to be paying.
Button claims to be easy - not if logging in is required.
Must login to be able to add items to shopping cart.
No shipping page. "Processing fee" for pickup.
Cannot put together an order to find out how much it might cost because would-be buyer must log in to get to shopping cart.
Unclear if shipping cost is per item or total. (I found out it's per item!)
Easy navigation.
Lists compatible products.
Shipping costs are quite inconsistent. It's $1 more shipping for just a flash memory card than for a camera battery and charger. Combined with shipping being per item makes it clear it's just a sneaky way of getting better placed listings on PriceSpy.
Summary: That log-in requirement has got to go, and the jacked-up shipping costs don't impress me at all.
OC Zone (NZ) Ltd

Last reviewed:
30 January 2009
Only lists prices excl GST.   162 cards with thumbnails... Is someone crazy? Whatever happened to splitting the types?
Cannot list by price.
Can only list by brand.
  Shipping info OK.
Can pick up.
Shipping not shown in shopping cart.
GST and total price not shown in shopping cart.
Search is a little awkward.
Some of the text on graphics (buttons) is tiny.
Good prices.
Summary: Those card types really need to be split out into individual types, but prices are good.
PB Technologies Ltd

Last reviewed:
18 December 2010
        Retail shop. Easier to visit them than use the site (even just to review the site).
     
Summary: Years ago these guys used to have a really good web site, then in one big update they lost it all and it has really sucked ever since. One of the hardest to use sites there is, and not worth reviewing at this stage. I don't like using their web site even to check prices. Update 18 December 2010 PB Tech has overhauled their web site. It's much improved, and worth using again.
PC Online Shop

Last reviewed:
28 May 2008
Only lists prices excl GST.   Can order products by price.
236 cards all in one list... is someone crazy?
"Buy Now" buttons in product list.
Clear shipping info on shipping page.
Shipping not shown in shopping cart.
GST and total price not shown in shopping cart.
Not flash memory cards, but another example of bad navigation: 505 hard disk enclosures to wade through. Something's really missing.
Why are some products listed in different colours? Also, the "This product was added to our catalog on ." feature isn't working
"Click to enlarge" produces the same small pic.
SD is not "Security Digital", guys. And "exlcuding" isn't right either.
Summary: Desperately needs to be able to select just one type of card or other product.
PcPacific Ltd

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
Does not say prices are excl GST except on product pages. Naughty.
Only lists prices excl GST.
Is there some sneaky difference between "In stock" and "Low stock"? Not listable in price order.
Products appear randomly ordered.
  Good shipping information (but not quite perfect - the shipping page doesn't say where the local rate applies, although the product pages do).
Shipping not shown in shopping cart.
GST and total price not shown in shopping cart.
"Click to enlarge" produces the same small pic.  
Summary: Really needs to fix up the GST to be legal, and could do with a shopping cart that shows the total.
PCWise

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
All prices excl GST.   Not listable under card types.
Not listable by price.
Only listed by brand. WHAT'S WITH YOU? Idiots doing your web site or something?
  Must be the only online shop that calls it freight instead of shipping. AND it's buried a couple of clicks away from the shopping section of the site. Shipping not shown in shopping cart.
GST and total price not shown in shopping cart.
Very poor navigation - eventually found the flash memory cards under "storage, digital media".
No photographs of products.
Links to manufacturer's site not actually linked.
When I click on the trash can to remove an item from the shopping cart I get sent to the login page.
 
Summary: Crap. Just crap. One of the least usable sites I've visited. The only ones worse are probably the ones mentioned below that I'm not going to review.
QMB

Last reviewed:
22 May 2008
Does not say prices in the list view are excl GST. Naughty.
  Remembers that I selected List by Price order - pity it can't actually do it.
Can NOT actually sort by price, even though it says it can.
List views have an unusual way of adding items to cart - enter quantities in boxes then click a single Add to Cart button.
Can pick up.
No shipping page, or explanation of complicated shipping options.
After a complicated process of selecting shipping, the cart does show the total cost.
Complicated process for selecting shipping - includes a unique requirement to accept the courier's terms & conditions.
Poor navigation, and a search for "microsd" turned up no products.
The Download Price List link doesn't work.
 
Summary: For a reputatble company I would have expected a lot more than illegally not stating prices exclude GST. Not an easy site to use, and not one I like to visit.
TasTech Ltd

Last reviewed:
30 January 2009
Prices include GST.
Time to restock out of stock items is not given. Cards are listed by type.
Cards are grouped by size.
  Shipping info easy to find.
Can pick up.
Shipping cost is not included in shopping cart.
Easy-to-use menu system.
Attractive appearance.
Larger versions of pics are not very much larger than the thumbnails.
Interesting (and unexplained) feature in the shopping cart allows user to add items to the cart by entering a product code.
Card titles use "Gb" (gigabit) instead of "GB" (gigabyte).
Summary: Half a year ago I said this site would be worth an other look at a later date, and they have since added a shopping cart. The site is a very pleasant one to use, really only let down by somewhat high prices.

Shops no longer included in the above list because they have gone out of business include C1 Shopping Mall and Yours Digital Ltd.


Not Rated

Sites which won't be reviewed any time soon:

  • Digital Shop - too different or just weird? I can't decide. It features uniquely convoluted navigation, unique shipping pick up options, tiny white text on a yellow background, and confidence-inspiring messages of encouragement: "The web site you are accessing has experienced an unexpected error. Please contact the website administrator." At least prices include GST.
     
  • Starzone - tried to visit it, really I did. Homepage just gave me this:
    "1146 - Table 'starzone_co_nz_-_web.departments' doesn't exist
    select * from departments where departments_status = '1' and (departments_http_server = 'www.starzone.co.nz' or departments_http_server = 'www.www.starzone.co.nz') and departments_http_catalog = '/'
    [TEP STOP]
    "
     
  • Aquire. Who needs to wade through 326 cards on 11 pages, with multiple listings of identical cards but at different prices, all jumbled up together? But wait! You can narrow it down... by brand. Aarrgh!
     
  • Zcom. Another one of those sites where I have to ask: What are they trying to accomplish? If turning away potential customers is one of their aims, they certainly accomplished it. It seems they do everything wrong. Not only do they have a very limited range (which did not extend as far as any of the cards on my list), but they're all thrown in together with the option of selecting a single brand. If I was desperate for something nice to say about it, it would be that they don't list prices excluding GST. That's because they have no prices listed at all. To see them requires logging in. Not gonna happen - there are plently of other sites which actually offer a shopping experience, not the hint of one. (Apparently this outfit is a wholesaler, which some may think explains the log in requirement, but surely they would have "public" prices.)
     
  • Driving Theatre. A subsidiary of Zcom at the same location. No GST is included in their web site prices, but that is only mentioned in one place - quite illegal. They have a very limited range of flash memory products listed on their web site.

 



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