I have to brag – I now work on a 30-inch widescreen monitor. It's the same monitor as the Apple Cinema Display, but it's not the Apple Cinema Display. That monitor costs 2,200,000 won (about $2200 USD – just take off the zeroes). Mine cost...get this...a frickin' unbelievable...
980,000 won. That's $980. Less than HALF of the cost of Apple's version, with a Samsung display unit. That means that the key element of the unit is made by the same company as Apple's (Samsung produces the LCD for Apple's monitor, as I understand).
So pretty much the same thing for half the price. Now, I don't want to pee in Apple's cheerios, and I'm not, for this boon has a catch – the company that makes them is going to stop selling them after the present stock sells out, which is going to be pretty damn soon, from what I can tell.
Apparently, they're not making enough off the 30" size (noooooo, really?) and are going to concentrate on the 37" size that The Monitor Man has on display in his store, which is right across the hallway from the large Apple retail store in the Yongsan Jeonja Land (the Etland building, where the Land Cinema is, not the newer complex with the CGV down by Yongsan Station – you can get there by following Podcast #20 walking tour of Yongsan).
Even though they're selling the 30" models like hotcakes, the production costs of a 30" and 37" are pretty much the same, especially with the lower-resolution monitor that the average customer who might buy something in that range looking "better" because it's bigger. And not too many people are really thinking about the extra real estate offered by the higher-rez model because they're too busy oohing and aahing at the HD movie file it's playing. It's not bad – the monitor looks great – but
See, I've been too poor to be able to afford a monitor since getting my Mac Pro, and have been busy catching up on getting back into financial shape since my little sabbatical from the grind of real jobs last summer. So I've been abusing my home theater projector and working off of that, but the poor thing is about to die, and I thought it high time to fix things.
I've been coveting Apple's 30" Cinema Display for years, but never thought of it as a realistic option. But it's beauty enthralls me, and the price has come down from the stratosphere. So, with recent paycheck in bank from doing The Host DVD subtitles (yay!), I went shopping for a real monitor to give my poor, abused, and recently ailing projector a rest. It's also better on the eyes to have a nice monitor with a high refresh rate and resolution if you're going to be in front of a computer 10-12 hours a day. A good computer monitor was starting to seem like a worthy investment, and a way to combat the headaches I've started to get recently. Doh!
So I went to my favorite haunt – the Yongsan Electronics Market. Not the one near Yongsan Station, which is full of rude crooks and new jack hustlers trying to sell you crap for triple the price, but the "newer" one up the hill behind that huge CGV/Yongsan/Emart complex, the Etland building.
There, you can count on getting treated like an intelligent human being, unlike in any place in Yongsan, where you have to fend for you life, one hand on your wallet. The guys in the old terminal complex are the worst – they're snakes. The salesmen in the newer building are not as bad, although in my search for the Sony DCR PC-330 video camera I want, or a couple others like it, I asked the price on a Sony DCR PC-110 or 101 – something that was pretty much $450-550 bucks used in every other place I asked – and he seriously quoted me a price of $1800.
When I said, "Negro, what?!" and told him the average I'd been hearing was around $450, he then realized I wasn't an idiot and corrected me and said that he had been quoting me the price of a the newest version of the Sony handheld. Pshaw. I was irritated, because it was yet another insult to my basic intelligence, so I reminded him that I had pointed directly to the camera and had asked, "This is a 101, right? How much is it?"
His reply? I had misunderstood his Korean. Riiiiiiight.
In fact, he wasn't even selling it or the used cameras all lined up in a row at the front of his glass display. So I was triply insulted and asked him, "Are you selling cameras or running a museum?" He was now just about as pissed at me as I was at him, but at least I hadn't been the one pulling a fast one. I took great satisfaction in not even waiting for an answer and walking off. Yeah, buddy – fuck you, too.
In any case, that's what you can expect in "lower" Yongsan electronics places. Not at all of them, but it's strange that the only place where I've been mad enough to chew leather and swallow with a sneer was in this area, where I've been spoken to in the lower banmal form, or completely ignored by salespeople when I've asked a question about an item (guess I don't look like the buying type), and even gotten into a battle with a guy who had clearly deceived a foreigner friend of mine and gone back on his promise to exchange if he wasn't satisfied. It all happens in the same general area.
I had only gone looking down in the retail dumps because the Sony PCR-330 is so hard to find. But I wouldn't recommend going down there because the people don't know what they're talking about and are just interested in putting something black, blinking, and expensive in your hand and hoping you don't come back yelling, which they are certainly prepped and ready for.
But Etland is where experts live. For me, the 2nd floor – cameras and home theater – is key, because you have salesmen in shirts and ties who actually know what they're talking about, can answer complex questions, and deal with high-end, professional equipment. And they seem to want to make a customer who'll return and buy again, not someone easy to bilk.
And so, enter The Monitor Man. After I had slinked into the Apple store and told the guy I was looking for something in the $500-600 range, and I realized that there was nothing there for me, I asked him to recommend some decent place where they sold domestic brands. He pointed me right across the hall, where I promptly went, not expecting to find much for so little money.
I was greeted with this humongous 37" black monitor – no speakers or other frilly bullshit to jack up the price – and was entranced by its HD playback of Ice Age. It was frickin' sweet.
The Monitor Man approached me, and I asked him the price, expecting to not even care, since it was too rich for my blood. He came back with $1300.
I shot back the equivalent of "Get the fuck out of here!" delivered like Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills art gallery he first visited to find Victor Maitland (obscure, ain't it?) – 설마! That was only $1300 bucks?
Intrigued, I asked if he had anything smaller, something like...maybe...the Apple 30-incher? He instantly knew what I was talking about and happily informed me that they made basically the same monitor for a whopping $980 and that they used to have them in stock, but they can't keep them in.
Moreover, the 30-incher is FULL high-definition, meaning 1080p, or in resolution terms, a 2560 X 1600 resolution. The 37" I was watching was actually lower-resolution and wasn't working in full HD. Most likely, I surmised, 720p. Hah – so proletarian!
Then I started recalculating. A few hundred more for the monitor to shame all monitors, or a 22-inch piece of ho-hum? Sight unseen, I chose the 30-incher (I'd seen the Apple 30-incher, so I simply extrapolated the excitement) and made the money transfer on the spot. I'd never blown a wad so fast, without even a trip to the Internet. He had it delivered for free, and it was waiting for me when I ended the day.
Hooked it up – digital butta, baby. I'd never imagine I'd be able to have a monitor like this, and God, was it clear, even with the small text of websites (which now load crazy amounts of text in a single page, or two full-sized MS Word pages side-by-side). And watching the full HD trailer of Shrek 3...I actually called friends over. That was amazing shit, because I...wait a minute...
What's that? Could it be...a...
Doh! it was in the far, upper-left corner and not too visible when the screen wasn't black, but...annoying! Yet, one thing many people don't know about dead pixels and LCD monitors is that up to 5 are considered within factory specs by most manufacturers. You have to have some leeway, because zero-defect standards mean higher prices passed on to you and me.
So I was going to swallow it, and it really wasn't that bad...but I couldn't go by without at least asking.
I returned to visit The Monitor Man, and told him about the problem and that I knew it was most likely within specs, but perhaps could he...you know...?
And he was down. He told me to bring it in the next day and that he'd have a new one for me. I did, he did, and I am working with a completely svelte piece o' monitor.
So why am I telling you all this?
1) Because they won't be available when present stock runs out and they are hella sweet and affordable.
2) Because the guy is cool, the store has some good, economical options, and you can go down there without feeling like you need to Vaseline up and take a stiff drink first. Mention you saw him on this blog, and you'll have a virtual connection to a referral.
People ask me all the time if there's a place they can go and not feel like is going to frisk them for loose change when they walk in the door, and this place is one of them.
Monitor Man, you hooked me up, offered great and friendly service, and even went beyond your obligations to a customer. For that, I'm trying to hook you up, while offering my readers a reliable place to go buy something here.
I'll post about the place where I bought my last three cameras from later.