Temu experiences

Now that I'm an adult and have money, I find I have a hard time getting excited about consumerism. But Temu captured my imagination. It is somehow like the feeling of when Walmart opened in your hometown. I have been trying to extract the maximum amount of consumerist glee out of this obviously ill-fated relationship.

The interesting thing here is that it's a shadow of the market we know and love. Everything here has already been replaced with low-quality / low-price Chinese goods, and often to our detriment. But it takes on a different tenor when it is all laid bare. Amazon is plagued by fake reviews -- Temu reviews are simply fake. Amazon is plagued by fake products -- Temu products are knockoffs. You never at any point feel like you're paying extra for basic QA performed by some brand-preserving importer. And so on.

Wife is unable to get into the spirit of this thing.

2024/01/19 - order #1

watch. I ordered a $2.39 "Geneva" wrist watch because I kind of want a Timex but I know I will hate the feeling of wearing a watch, so this ridiculous price point is a good compromise. I bought a $10ish pocket watch at Walmart back in 2001, and within a month its dots had fallen off of it (so it was a blank watch face without hour markers). I figure this can't be lower quality than that.

pajamas. I ordered $13.13 pajamas for my 10yo, because he asked for pajamas and I saw them on Temu. I could not figure out the sizing chart so I simply got "9-10yo" size.

2024/01/26 - order #2

tablet. I ordered $61.59 PRITOM 8 inch Android tablet "8GB". I hate cheapest Android tablets but my branded "supported" Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is such a fantastic piece of crap that I figure it can't get any worse..if I'm already thinking about buying the newer Samsung, I certainly could not do worse than buying this garbage? Do you suppose it really has 8GB?

keyboard+monitor. I ordered $10.79 9" mini keyboard (TKL) and $33.99 7" VGA monitor. I have a basement server that I have long wanted to get an appropriate head for.

belt. I ordered $1.97 Nylon "tactical" belt, because I have 2 belts but want 3.

microsd. I ordered $2.48 16GB microSD. Do you think it will really be 16GB? I just needed a microSD card for a kid's toy and this seems about the right investment.

usb-microsd. I ordered $2.48 USB microSD interface. Each of my laptops' builtin microSD has a different infelicity so maybe this will avoid the trial and error?

My general feeling about their prices is that things are only much cheaper than a store like Walmart if they are very small. They seem to ship everything international air mail (which is insane!), so something you can pile a million of into a little box (like microSD cards) is cheap but something like clothing, they have to charge a more "normal" price simply to make up for the bulk it takes up in the cargo plane.

2024/02/01 - order #1 update

I received a notice that my first order is late so they are giving me $5 in store credit.

2024/02/02 - order #1 received

watch. My first shipment came. The watch is fine. Its hour marks will not fall off because they are obviously just printed and embossed on thin posterboard. Its only significant defect is that the hour hand rubs on the paper, which I don't know if it will impact its life hugely or not. It keeps good time (quartz). Its strap is weirdest thing I've ever seen. I thought "mesh" meant something like nylon webbing, but instead it is a very fine steel. I can't tell if it's woven (i.e., bending steel) or separate chain links. Its paint scratches extremely easily, and I suspect it will turn into splinterville soon enough. It's very very stiff until you bend it a few times, and then it's only very stiff. It's not very comfortable.

I had to take it off, because I convinced myself the metal band would destroy my sweater sleeve. I may use my $5 store credit towards a new 20mm strap! I found some 20mm webbing in the basement, and it is much much more comfortable, if I could figure out how to invent a clasp for it.

pajamas. 10yo likes his pajamas, though they are just barely big enough. They'll be too small soon. So it is.

2024/02/03 - order #3

bands. I don't know anything about watch bands so I ordered two: a $3.48 generic nylon watch band, which has the downside of holes at set sizes; and a $2.11 "elastic nylon" watch band, which comes with a little piece of metal I would want to use if I build my own?

chuck. I ordered $2.27 drill chuck with a hex drive. I have wanted a hand-driven drill for a long time and I am disappointed with the one I have. I am willing to enter the lottery again because I was frustrated searching for something like this on American sites some years ago.

ezlinktool. I ordered $1.59 bicycle chain tool for removing quick links (like needle nose pliers but with a funny tip to grip a single link of chain). I can always solve this problem with tools on hand but each time is a voyage of discovery. This may save me a little time and effort. I happen to have just needed it today.

bikelight. I ordered $2.79 rechargeable bicycle headlight. The one I have only lasts about half an hour anymore. This one seems very similar, and honestly I would be surprised if it is in any way lower quality. I am extremely distressed about the design quality of $30 bike lights purchased in the US. The LLM-generated reviews say the bike is much faster after buying this light.

knife. I ordered $1.25 utility knife because the box cutters that sit by my recycling pile are getting kind of sad.

camera. I ordered $8.28 "endoscope" USB camera with a 6' cable. This will go places I don't dare to try to slide my phone into.

usb-a-c. I ordered $2.11 USB C female to A male adaptor. I only have the other gender of this, but will obviously soon need this gender as well.

2024/02/07 - order #2 received

tablet. It is apparently 4GB. The extra 4GB "RAM extension" is apparently swap to flash -- hah hah. It seems fine? It seems like an extremely generic build of Android (not that I'd necessarily recognize a skin on Android 13). I'm curious now to know if it's bootloader-unlocked. It charges very slowly, but I doubt that will matter for my purposes.

monitor. This device has a distressingly strong plastic smell. Good thing it's going in the basement. It works fine on the first try -- just hooked up the provided HDMI cable to my PC, and the text just popped onto the screen. This is great -- I will be getting rid of a 20" CRT that is just sitting on the basement floor like a trip hazard!

keyboard. This one is a miss! When it said it was micro USB, I assumed it meant it had a micro USB device connector (female). The USB standard says that all hard-connected cables should have a male USB A connector and talk the low speed USB 1.1 standard. But this has a hard-connected cable with a male micro USB connector on it! Obviously this is intended to be used with cellphones, with "USB On-The-Go". I am optimistic that I may be able to solder a real USB cable to it??

belt. It might be a little beefier than I want. Its buckle is a novelty of molded plastic which is hard to adjust to the right tension, and which I suspect will not wear well. You know, even so, it might be perfect for the third pair of pants that isn't worn as often. *shrug*

microsd+usb-microsd. I accidentally ordered two of each of these? I tested one of them, and it passed my most preliminary test. Given the desired usage case, it seems unlikely I'll notice any problems?

2024/02/10 - fixed the keyboard.

monitor. I improved this by making the font bigger. I added these lines:

[greg@stallion] ~$ grep FONT /etc/default/console-setup
FONTFACE="Terminus"
FONTSIZE="12x24"
It's still not great. I think it is being output by the PC at 1024x768, and then resampled to 640x480 or something inside the monitor. Really I should try turning off kernel mode setting and then it would probably be fine in the default 640x480 VGA mode? But this is a low priority for me. Not worth rebooting for.

keyboard. I soldered a regular USB cable onto it. It worked on the first try. The keyboard is a piece of garbage, even for its size. It's almost big enough to touch type on but every detail is wrong. It's about what you expect out of no-name phone keyboards (I have bought at least 4 of them already?). I should have thought a little about the implications of "9-inch" before I bought it. But the old setup was much worse (!), so I guess I'm satisfied. It's really just checking the box of "a head that fits on top of a tower PC case". I only have to type maybe a dozen commands a year here when the thing doesn't boot clean after a power outage.

2024/02/14 - order #3 received

bands. The band that struck me as basically a "NATO band" (nylon, with two layers behind the watch) is better than the metal one, but it is still fairly uncomfortable. The 4 metal parts are too much bulk for me. And they are intrinsic to the NATO design so I think it's not a design defect of this strap. And also, it can either be slightly too tight or sligthly too loose. I think "slightly too tight" might be actually "just right" but I don't like it. Just like I knew I wouldn't.

The elastic band is great, I guess. It was easy to adjust to be exactly as snug as I want. It's definitely the most comfortable option. The thing is, I have to stretch it really hard to get it off. I feel like one way or the other, it will not last long. But my overall impression is that I'm not a watch-wearer. Just like I knew I wasn't.

chuck. This is smaller than I expected. I bought the one with unspecified size, because I couldn't figure out if that was bigger or smaller than the one specified to be 6.5mm. Anyways, this fits to about 3.5mm, or 1/8". It grips the bit securely, unlike the old bit Chinese bit brace I bought. Its purpose is obviously to use drill bits with impact drivers. A small bit like this, I can't drive manually without breaking it. And now that I can grip a bit with my brace, I can see that it is too misaligned to be used!

ezlinktool. I don't want to get greasey taking apart my bike, but I test-fit it and it seems to hold the link securely. I think it will be handy.

bikelight. It charged successfully. It is slightly smaller than I expected. The rubber band is flimsy even by the standards of the genre, and is in practice too flimsy for use! I need to 3D print a little bracket to adapt it to zip ties. Luckily, the rubber is held on with a screw so I should be able to just replace it and use that same screw. The light is bright enough, it shines a spot on the wall even at mid-day.

knife. The utility knife is exactly how I expected. It's one of the kinds with a disposable plastic body where you break the old blade off once it's dull, and advance a new one. I've never had one of these before but it feels like a more brittle grade of plastic than the other ones look like. I think it will be great for my cardboard recycling.

camera and usb-a-c. The USB-C adaptor works, but it turns out I don't need it for this camera because it has a complicated plug that fits USB-A, USB-C, and microUSB! Never saw anything like it before. I wouldn't be surprised if the plug breaks young. But the camera works fine. It's the same as any USB camera, except smaller and on the end of a semi-rigid wire. The light is controlled by a little knob so it doesn't take any special software. Definitely something I've wanted in the past, and will be handy to have around.

Something I like overall about Temu is that they are serious about minimizing packaging, since shipping is such a huge expense for them. Most products just come in a plastic bag, especially the ones that are single-digit numbers of dollars. And then the plastic bags are packed neatly into a larger plastic bag for shipping.

2024/02/24 - order #4

The lesson from the earlier orders is that it still pays to shop, to read the specs of the product you're buying. Hah hah.

melodica. $15.98 "FEIFAN" 32-key melodica (button harmonica). Pink. I got the one that didn't say "Soprano" in the description, but I'm sure it is anyways. I was inspired to go hunting for a tenor one, but even reputable vendors are cagey about their range and I am not doing that fight today.

thermal paste. $1.69 7g syringe of "GD900" thermal paste. Extremely sad story about what I got last time I bought thermal paste. Trying something new. 7g is a lot to me.

hacksaw. I like to occasionally buy a $2 hacksaw. But looking at the website, I learned I should be buying blades for the saws I have?? I ordered nothing.

mini vise. I wanted to buy a mini vise for my drill press, because in the past I have bought too large, and Temu wants to sell small. But I look and they want to sell me plastic. The dimensions are right but plastic. I ordered nothing.

blanket. $27.48 "Ultrasonic Embossed Solid Color Bedspread". queen. pink. I want to replace a 'bedspread' type of blanket. It seems like the sort of thing I'd buy locally but that means just like Target or Walmart? And their websites are super uninspiring. So I will buy this, even though I can't tell if it's double-sided. It says "reversible". I don't actually care, but it is disconcerting to have no idea what I'm buying. I wonder if "Ultrasonic Embossed" is the new stitching, or if it's garbage? The thing is, it's replacing a blanket of extraordinarily low quality which I have loved for 15 years. Short of stealing one from a hotel, what am I to do?

usb lithium charger. $2.11 5x micro USB to TP4056 board for charging lithium batteries. I used to use MAX1555s and an SOT-23 breakout board and a microUSB breakout board. But I'm down to the last MAX1555. So I was going to order more of those, but this I think is even better?

heat shrink. $2.11 560pcs heat shrink tube assortment. This looks like a big step up from my current collection. I really like that they're pre-cut, because the un-store-able long lengths of the small varieties of tube is my biggest complaint with the status quo.

cards. $1.68 plastic playing cards. My solitaire deck is old and warped. Plastic playing cards?!

superglue. $2.11 5x super glue. These separate tubes are handy. Increases the odds one isn't dried out.

2024/02/24 - fixed bike light

bikelight. I 3D printed a little bracket to let me hold it to the handlebars with a zip tie and a little bit of innertube for friction. It is perfectly usable now. It is just a question of how long it will last, and whether it has decent battery life. I'm honestly not optimistic about battery life, because it weighs absolutely nothing.