Saturday, April 12, 2014

moving electronical equipment from South Africa to England - advice if wished for

hello there

one of those infrequent, mostly sensible blog posts with some "in my experience / opinion" advice. answering, if you like, the kind of question i sort of should have asked before moving stuff over. hey ho, live and learn i guess.

i have, as you are aware by now, come home. i brought shiny things with me. do they all work here? yes, actually, they do. the voltage and that means that all electronic equipment will work here. if one moved from the USA to Europe or Africa, or the other way around, that would not happen, the USA is on a lower voltage.

however, some equipment works better than others do. here, for whatever it may be worth to you, are my findings. please pass on to anyone doing a move1

'digital' TV sets bought in South Africa - maybe / no

South Africa is, it seems, in for something of a shock when this digital TV broadcasting all kicks off there. why? because some digital TVs there are not as digital as you would think. to get a digital signal - and DSTV or that other satellite one is not an indicator of this - you need a TV that can receive digital signals. just because a TV is LCD, LED and "fancy" does not mean it is this. a less than year old model Samsung i have brought over does not pick up digital signals.

what to do if you have a big massive LED TV set? well, check it out. perhaps yours is a model that has digital built in, but as we shall see later on here, the same make and model of shiny things is often made in an entirely different way for different markets. in all likelihood all brands of TV made for sale in SA will not have the digital TV stuff in it because there is no need.

do not mistake a "smart" TV, one that you can connect via WiFi and other networks, as being a TV capable of receiving and displaying a digital TV singal. get it in clear black and white that it has a digital tuner and not just the capacity for an analogue signal. TVs are cheaper in SA than here, so it will be a temptation to bring it. and of course you can get it to work.

if you are going to go the way of satellite TV here - which is very expensive compared to DSTVs prices, in particular on the sport front - in all likelihood you will be "HDMI"-ing it anyway. so it will work. if you just want the normal, free-to-air Freeview here in the UK - which is ace - then you can get a decoder box that "converts" the signal and will work fine with any SA TV. except for one minor problem.

what on earth, you may ask, is this that i have pictured here? this is an obsolete piece of technology called the SCART socket. i was under the impression that this rubbish had died out in the 80s. the picture via a SCART is worse than one via those red, yellow and white A/V cables. and yet for some bizarre reason it is all the rage here once again.

for some reason, all of the cheap and cheerful Freeview decoder boxes come with a scart option alone. some of them are so enthusiastic they even have two (2!) scart sockets. as far as i know, no TV set for sale in SA has a SCART socket. the happy news is that the more expensive models - and i speak of about one hundred notes sterling - that can do HD Freeview and usual PVR functions (and stream stuff) do come with HDMI ports. so if your TV is really big, shiny, new and something you have no wish to part with, understand the cost of making it work here.

DVD and Blu Ray players are cheap here, and getting cheaper. don't buy one all special to bring this way, same zones between SA and UK so all your discs will work "lekker" too.

same goes for all your Xbox, Playstation things too. games are all PAL in the UK and SA, so ones you get in either country will work on the machine.

iTwat of the iPod variety - yes

in SA there was always a notion that shiny new things were cheaper in the rest of the world in terms of "actual" cost and "real" costs in respect of income and standard of living. this is wrong in respect of the humble iPod, amongst other things.

Apple, it seems, charges more for the iPod here in England than they do in South Africa. as a point of fact, from what i have seen, the second hand and refurbished ones costs more than the new ones do in South Africa.

if you have an iPod bring it with; if you have any intention of getting an iPod then do it in South Africa. trust me on this one; i somewhat regret not buying a second one when i saw them going at a decent price before we left.

iTwat of the iPad nature? i don't know, really. i have heard tales of the top of the range ones here costing a very good deal of money. but then again there are loads of cheap alternatives on offer here. as there are, indeed, in South Africa.

proper computer / laptop - yes

yes, heck yes, bring your computer. they seem to be very costly things over here, even on the second hand market. also licences, like Windows and Office, are a lot cheaper in SA than they are in the UK. get your PC and fully arm it with whatever software you want or need before you ship it over. you have paid the licence, they are not going to charge you the different, extra cost when you move here and change your country setting.

for some reason the "bits" are very expensive too. video cards, hard drives and all that sort of thing. monitors in particular. so "jazz" your PC in South Africa before shipping it. consider also picking up a second hand laptop in SA too, even if like me you hate the things. WiFi and that is plentiful here, and they cost less second hand in SA than they do here. i kind of wished that i had picked one up for a bargain price, but no matter, i have my proper machine on the go.

the strangest thing i have found is the cost of either internal or external DVD writer drives here, at least new. what i have seen on the shelves makes me rather glad i bought one for the child's toy netbook when i did. there is a bigger, better and cheaper second hand market - hi there, eBay - here than there is in SA, so it's not the end of the world if you don't pick one up.

external drives and that seem particularly costly here. however.......

printer - no

this was one tough lesson i have learned, and is perhaps the inspiration behind me writing all of this. if you bring a printer from SA to the UK, you will wrestle and struggle with it, as i have.

why? because printer manufacturers are, apparently, dicks. although the identical make and model printer i have is available in England, it is different in the model / number of ink cartridges it takes. apparently the ones sold in South Africa are for the "Asian" market, and designed to take different ink sets. i can find no worldly reason for this at all. cheers for that.

i am, then, finding it a hell of a struggle to get the cartridges - either genuine or "compatible" - that work with my machine. bugger.

so ditch the printer and lose the headache. prices of printers here are not unreasonable as such, and the happy news is that the "compatible" or refilled cartridges for all printer models in the UK are both plentiful and freely available.

cellphone / smartphone / mobile phone - yes

again there was always an idea that one could get better, cheaper phones around the world than they could in South Africa. not really true.

for a start, whereas in South Africa you more often than not get a phone free with a contract or upgrade, here more often than not you have to buy the handset (granted at a lower fee) and still sign a two year (or so contract).

also all phones here are sold network locked, and unlocking them, looking at prices in places that do it, is expensive. most places want, for instance, upwards of forty pounds sterling to unlock an iTwat.

this of course is not the case with a phone handset bought in South Africa. there the laws and regulations mean that they cannot sell "network locked" phones, and if they do the person who sold it to you is obliged to go right ahead and unlock it for you at no charge.

so if you are moving, do not go "oh, i will just get a class and smart new phone when i get to England". or Wales, look you see. make sure you bring yours, and if it's a bit old, rather buy a new one before you move. it will be unlocked here, thus you can pick and choose which network you want.

radio / docking station - maybe, no

the docking station you got in South Africa will most certainly work here, and will pick up FM signals no problem. but if you do that you will be missing out in a number of ways.

first off, and surprise surprise, the docking stations here actually do charge the 3rd & 4th gen models if iPods and iPhones. in SA they "do not" and this was due to the "design" of the Apple product, not a flaw in the docking station. go figure.

secondly, DAB. digital audio broadcast is what i think it stands for. your SA bought docking station or radio does not have it. the majority of them on sale here very much do have it, and it's amazing. loads and loads of excellent, first rate radio stations to choose from and listen to. very much well worth it, i say. and i know what you are thinking, but trust me - radio in England is not as bloody dire and awful as it is in South Africa.

Grown Up Sort Of Shiny Things Appliances - varies

for all the things you need around the house.....

kettles and toasters are exceptionally cheap here - even super special purple ones, as seen on the pages of this blog so far this year.

i was shocked and alarmed at the cost of irons and vacuum cleaners here. really seriously insane cost to them. i am not 100% sure that changing the plugs will work in itself - here the plugs are fused and need that third, "earth" write that is often missing from power cords and plugs in SA. you can, however, buy those "double adaptor" looking travel plug convertors that are fused. make sure you bring them too.

microwaves, fridges, that sort of thing - only if you are really attached to them. reasonable enough pricing on those here.

washing machines - well i brought mine because it does that lovely little happy song. but it does not do tumble dry, and you do really kind of need a tumble dryer here for the wetter moments in the weather.

and that's about it. hope this helps someone out!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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