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Printed vs. Etched - photo courtesy of PCPop

Unmarked TSOPs - photo courtesy of PCPop

Can you spot the fake memory module?
Counterfeit components on the rise

Counterfeit technology saw took its first baby steps when less than reliable merchants began selling overclocked Pentium 2 processors as factory clocked CPUs.  Of course, this went on and continued with Intel's Pentium 3, AMD's Athlon and virtually any other PC product manufactured since 2000. 

Sony is currently facing a problem with memory, but not because it can't remember how to keep a firm schedule on its PlayStation 3's launch, but its popular Memory Stick products are now being counterfeited. According to several reports in Canada, counterfeit Memory Sticks have made their way from China over to US and Canadian shores. A quick search on eBay will reveal numerous online auctions that claim to sell legitimate Memory Sticks, but we managed to get word from a popular online eBay merchant that most Memory Sticks being sold on eBay are manufactured in China and are not the genuine Sony. "Fact is, you won't find any real Sony [Memory Sticks] on eBay from US or UK sellers. All [are] made in China. That's the truth," said the eBay merchant who wished to remain nameless.

Comparing the authentic Sony Memory Sticks to the counterfeit ones is not easy. Some customers are now reporting that even official Sony reps are being fooled and are unable to tell. Despite being fakes, the China-made Memory Sticks are nearly identical (English) to the real deal except for some very subtle details.

On the outside, genuine Memory Sticks Duos have laser-etched information on the back of the cards compared to the printed information on the counterfeits. The authentic modules are etched into the plastic shell, so the words don't rub off like they do on the counterfeits. The dimensions between the two will also be very slightly different. Some users reported having difficulties inserting and removing their MS Duo products from devices such as the PSP. On the inside, the counterfeit sticks also do not use the same Sony-marked PCB and are actually unmarked. The real sticks also use Ball Grid Array (BGA) memory chips where as the counterfeit ones use TSOP (Thin Small Outline Package) chips. The chips inside the counterfeit products are also unmarked and perform unreliably. Users who've purchased these sticks tell DailyTech that they are also experiencing differences between usable capacities when compared to genuine Memory Sticks -- the counterfeit products show a smaller capacity.

Some eBay merchants are also claiming that they will ship a "SanDisk Memory Stick Adapter", which is "factory sealed" along with the purchase of a Memory Stick Pro Duo. Unfortunately, Sony does not "factory seal" a memory product from its competitor along with its own memory products. Sony, in fact, has its own adapters. Another eBay merchant we tracked down even Photoshoped a Sony logo onto a SanDisk adapter.

Sony has not issued a warning or a statement in regards to the counterfeiting of its products, but it is advisable that buyers should be cautious of where they purchase their products from -- especially over eBay. As with most electronic products, you often do get what you pay for, and if it seems too good to be true, it often is. While buying Memory Sticks from Sony commands a price premium, it's clear from customer stories on many online forums that the discounts offered by unreputable sources are often just not worth it.


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Almost got fooled into buying a fake one
By PandaBear on 4/18/2006 4:07:38 PM , Rating: 4
Becareful of Amazon, one of their memory stick duo didn't have an adapter included and from what I heard only fake one didn't include adapter.

Buy from the big guys for now, like Bestbuy and DELL (where I got mine), and stay away from Sony for the moment. SanDisk and Lexar have less fake for the moment.




RE: Almost got fooled into buying a fake one
By Homerboy on 4/18/2006 4:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
I HIGHLY doubt amazon is selling fake ones.


RE: Almost got fooled into buying a fake one
By hstewarth on 4/18/2006 4:44:58 PM , Rating: 1
I purchase a 2G Memory Stick Duo from Amazon and had no issues with it. It was from SanDisk and included adapter - everything was seal. Not bad for $75 after rebate.

I would think the main problem is from eBay. Sounds like the article mention Sony's sticks are being fake and not SanDisks. By the way the SanDisk sticks are semi-transparent and you can see the insides.


RE: Almost got fooled into buying a fake one
By plewis00 on 4/18/2006 4:58:35 PM , Rating: 3
No, the gaming ones are translucent and they also have non-gaming ones which are blue in colour (as per the photo). There are no spec differences apart from the colour and transparency. But I see what you mean, if you could see the board you could tell.

At the moment, it appears to be Sandisk and Sony which are being faked. A big shame really...


By hstewarth on 4/18/2006 5:36:24 PM , Rating: 1
My 2G work fine in my PSP. I am not 100% sure if its completely transparent. But what is important to me is that it works find. Came from Amazon in Sandisk seal case with adapter.

Are we 100% sure this is not bad pr - a lot of that is going on because of the PS3.


RE: Almost got fooled into buying a fake one
By mindless1 on 4/23/2006 10:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
Why? Amazon has you that fooled? Think about it, if "even official Sony reps are being fooled", what makes Amazon immune?


By EidolWays on 4/25/2006 10:10:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Think about it, if "even official Sony reps are being fooled", what makes Amazon immune?


Simple. Amazon gets their product through reliable distribution channels. The reason Sony officials are "being fooled" is NOT because they're accidentally distributing or purchasing fake versions of their own products. They're simply comparing the counterfeits with their own products. So long as you continue to buy from reputable vendors such as Best Buy, NewEgg, Circuit City, etc., you're all but guaranteed you're getting the real McCoy.

Stay away from eBay since anyone can post whatever product they have on hand on it so long as they reliably complete the transaction. It's good for low prices, yes, but you're essentially shopping the World Flea Market.


By rad1234 on 10/31/2006 12:41:15 AM , Rating: 2
I just confirmed that the Sandisk Compactflash Ultra II 2.0GB Memory purchased from Circuit City is in fact a fake. Once formatted it only showed 487MB so I questioned this with Sandisk who request pictures. I provided front, back and side that showed a Made in China along with a product code and Sandisk confirmed this is, in fact, a fake. The packaging was complete, un-opened when purchased, even had the security casing at the store. I'm going to return this for a replacement, but how can I or anyone else be assured what they are buying is not fake when purchsed from Circuit City, Best Buy, CompUSA or any other retail store?


So Buying Dell Memory Makes Sense Now?
By Dfere on 4/18/2006 4:42:52 PM , Rating: 2
Ohh geez. In price shopping Dell, typicallly I see the 256 Meg mini xp wonder amount on the $3999 computer can be upgraded to 1 gig for only $200, when 1 gig alone costs $80.

So a 250% price increase is justified because it is reliable?

I have a clue for you. Use a credit card- all states have protection against someone etiher stealing your number (usually $50), and against fraud. The credit card companies have insurance, and usually are quite willing to refund your money as long as you make an attempt to send the product back. (I have never been stopped from declining a purchase so far by MBNA or Amex, but I have not abused it either).

This is something Paypal does not mention......
I can't wait to see Sony's response- a la "buy a genuine GM part" all over again.....




By Dfere on 4/18/2006 4:43:31 PM , Rating: 2
Geez $399 oops


RE: So Buying Dell Memory Makes Sense Now?
By Homerboy on 4/18/2006 5:02:08 PM , Rating: 5
I have a clue for you... they are talking memory cards, not DIMMS/Modules.


No Clue whatsoever
By Dfere on 4/19/2006 8:37:58 AM , Rating: 1
The issue I brought isn't about memory sticks. It is about price premiums that have been traditionally been sold to people who do not care or want to do research for the products they buy. Do you go to the dealer to get your oil changed for $45, or a local corner station for $18.99?? (Before you say anything, I change my own) And please don't tell me memory sticks don't fit in my car.....


By EidolWays on 4/25/2006 10:25:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
can't wait to see Sony's response- a la "buy a genuine GM part" all over again.....


This has always been the game, though. Counterfeiting is not new. As various other posts here discuss, remarkers have been selling processors under the guise of higher clocks than the chips are actually rated for. They'd even go so far as to print fake "Pentium II" labels on the chip packaging back when the Pentium II's still used the slot daughtercards. So, when going to a computer show at your local convention center, you'd have to keep your eye out for fakes. If you know how to spot a fake, good. When your means of purchase, however, don't allow you to SEE the item before you buy, it's better to, as you say, "buy a genuine part". This, of course, means buying from a recommended vendor or straight from Sony themselves, if possible. "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is" is a rather ancient piece of advice, really.


Fry's
By mikee805 on 4/18/2006 5:03:39 PM , Rating: 2
Fry's hada some 1GB Sony Brand memory sticks on sale. I wonder if thoese were fakes?




RE: Fry's
By havokprod on 4/18/2006 5:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
Picked one up yesterday, going to check as soon as I get home :0


Good Lord not again...
By CZroe on 4/18/2006 6:33:21 PM , Rating: 2
Once again freakin' ANCIENT news that every ATer should already know pops up here.

I haven't been able to turn my head without spotting fakes left and right. They've been on eBay almost since the PSP was released (before even?). Even Wal-Mart sells knock-offs like the 128MB one included with the PSP Action Replay (same HK sources but not illegally branded). Anyone with two cents should have been aware of fakes as soon as that first clone showed up on the shelf. I'd still be willing to bet that it violates patents seeing as how Lexar and SanDisk have to be Sony partners to manufacturer Memory Sticks.




RE: Good Lord not again...
By CZroe on 4/18/2006 6:46:57 PM , Rating: 2
Also, Sony and SanDisk adapters are 100% idendical save for the Sony and SanDisk logos. It very well may not be Photoshopped on there. I can prove this as I bought my 2GB SanDisk and 2GB Sony sticks at Circuit City and Best Buy.


Correction
By Clauzii on 4/19/2006 1:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Counterfeit technology saw took its first baby steps when less than reliable merchants began selling overclocked Pentium 2 processors as factory clocked CPUs.


Not quite - it started at last back at P133 being sold at P166. I think it was even in at the i486 series, where some i486SX got sold as being i486...

When You start an article with the above mentioned claims, at least do some research guys :)




RE: Correction
By mindless1 on 4/23/2006 10:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not quite, it was also happening with 80286 and thereafter as well.

When you start a post with the mentioned claims, at least do some research Clauzii :)

Counterfeiting has been going on ever since there were branded products with inflated market value. The scope of it may change based on the relative difficulty and cost to do it, but there isn't really a "first thing" worth mentioning as some kind of reference point.


If it seems too good to be true...
By cornfedone on 4/18/2006 4:48:45 PM , Rating: 1
...that's because it is.

It doesn't matter if it's CPUs, memory or defective, over-hyped mobos, if the price seems too good to be true, there is a reason why.

Most people deserve what they get or don't get.




By mindless1 on 4/23/2006 10:23:02 PM , Rating: 2
That applies the other way around too though, that if Sony (as they always do) disproportionately prices things higher than they should be, higher than similar market equivalents, it's not completely unreasonable to expect a product to be nearer equivalent market value if it's not selling well enough.


By otispunkmeyer on 4/18/2006 5:00:00 PM , Rating: 3
thered be less need to fake them.

MS are pretty expensive compared to things like SD and CF cards




While I was in China...
By Wonga on 4/18/2006 6:13:44 PM , Rating: 2
...I bought a MS Pro stick at the market, along with a camera. While I'm sure the camera is real enough, the memory is probably fake, but it works great fine. Did I get what a disserved? :D




By PandaBear on 4/18/2006 8:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is the fake one only support up to about 1/2 the capacity and if you write more to it, it will give you corrupted data.

I am fine with cloned PCB and 3rd party chips, and I am fine with knock off if 2gb is 2gb, instead of 2gb being remarked 1gb.




funny
By Wwhat on 4/18/2006 10:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
Funny that this happens while people are finding out that sony's notebooks advertised as having 'carbon fiber' cases are actually not carbon fiber but painted to look like carbon fiber.
Are we sure these fakes aren't sold by sony too huh.




Also fakes in the middle east.
By yonzie on 4/25/2006 10:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
I went through Sharjah Airport (in the UAE (middle east)) a few weeks ago and had a look at their electronics shop.
What did I see? Fake Sony MS Duos... No adapter advertised as in the package, so that was pretty obvious...




"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken











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