Winner of Name that Ware November 2007

The ware for November 2007 is shown below, taken fully apart. As you can see, the ware consists of three circuit boards.

The ware is an A+Xunchi U3 CDMA 1x RTT wireless data dongle. I paid 250 quai for this in China, lightly negotiated, and I guess I did okay because this website shows an on-line price of 290 quai. Today’s exchange rate puts 250 quai at US $33.90.

Picking the winner was a bit tough. Karl guessed the $0.50 Euro coin, but Flo got it exactly right by pointing out that there are two of them :-). I figure I might as well accept the trend that the US dollar is on its way out, and treat Euros as the currency of reference.

Seriously though, while none of the guesses got it exactly right, several got the general class of the device right (WAN data modem); in fact, EVDO is the evolution of the 1xRTT data standard, and GPRS offers comparable data rates to 1xRTT. Speaking of a shift in reference points — usually people nail my wares because they are well documented in the English-speaking world, and Google “knows all”. This actually highlights an important limitation: English speakers can’t search Chinese web pages. There are volumes of knowledge out there in Chinese that remain closed to us. As the Chinese tech sector grows, it is becoming more important to make efforts to search in Chinese. Just try searching for USB mass storage controller ASICs, or digital picture frame SoCs on Google in English, and then go and open up one of these devices and compare your findings. I bet you’ll find that the chips most frequently used in these popular devices are best searched for in Chinese.

I digress. Jered was the first to guess in this class of devices, calling it an EVDO modem, and at a price of $150. Felix is the next to guess EVDO, but finally concludes it is GPRS at $20-$30; so the price is right, and he’s got the right-generation of data technology (GPRS and 1xRTT are both 2.5G data standards). Unfortunately, Felix revises his guess to be an EVDO device (Anydata ADU-510D/Anydata ADU-610W) at a price of $250. bitrex also picks up on the EVDO modem thread as well, and guesses a price of 1 euro, but then revises the guess to a TrackStick GPS Data Logger at $100.

Normally, I think I would award the prize to the person with the best analysis, which is fundamentally the point of Name that Ware — to promote the concept of learning through reverse engineering. To that end, Felix had the best posted analysis. This doesn’t mean to say that other contestants didn’t analyze: I have to consider that I changed the rules for this instance of the contest. I had restated the rules to center around correctness, and not analysis, so perhaps some contestants did not post their thought process because it could give an edge to other readers. Ironically, I changed the rules to make the judging easier, under the assumption that multiple people would guess the exact ware outright (which is usually the case for Name that Ware), but in the end it actually made judging harder. Also, I think I have to go with only the final guess, because if I allowed multiple guesses then one could just guess lots of things randomly and increase their chance of winning. Next time, I will stick to the original “best analysis” rules, even if I’m offering a higher value prize like a chumby.

It was a tough contest to judge, but the winner is Jered! Congratulations. Please email me and let me know which color of a chumby you would like: black, brown, or white! And thanks to everyone who played. I’ll post the next ware in a couple of weeks.

13 Responses to “Winner of Name that Ware November 2007”

  1. Flo says:

    Congrats Jered!

    The Qualcomm caption on the chip would’ve been a real giveaway if it were shown on the “Guess” picture…

  2. Felix says:

    Congratulations, everybody!

    I’m pretty surprised by the result – no, not that I didn’t win, more that I believed to have seen pictures of *all* wireless data sticks while searching for a “small usb WAN dongle with headphone port”. No, this one wasn’t in the list of results, and bunnie’s explanation is a very interesting one. The world is bigger than google, MUCH bigger. We tend to forget that very often. It’s not only the language barrier. Sometimes information predate the internet, sometimes they are buried in properly protected VPNs, sometimes the author just don’t like robots. It is interesting how a search engine leads our thoughts. Scary, if you ask me. What about a theoretical conspiracy where a #1 search engine leaves out data by purpose, for example for political or economical reasons? Would we be protected against this kind of manipulation? Even this small challenge here probably shows that we are likely not. . .

    Now that I haven’t succeed in my only chance to get a chumby ;), can you maybe comment a bit why chumby only ships into the US? I would have bought on since day 1, just to be dismissed at the delivery address page with a “please come back later”.

  3. Flo says:

    I’m guessing that they need the device to get some certifications for the wireless interface and electrical stuff – getting them is a lengthy and costy process.

  4. Jered says:

    Wow, Thanks for the early Christmas present! Guess I’m going to break down and get the Flash tools after all… :-)

  5. bunnie says:

    Chumby can’t ship outside the US due to regulatory issues and trade barriers that we don’t have the resources to leap just now. However, bunnie studios does do “early commercial sample” sales of chumby units to friendly hackers around the world if you would just send us a personal note :-) Conveniently, I will be at CCC this year…

  6. bitrex says:

    I ran into a similar problem when I took apart an old D-link MP3 player the other day. Aside from the STA013 Mp3 decoder chip and the CS4340 D/A converter, it’s nearly impossible as a native English speaker to find information about some of the other ICs on the board. What I’m assuming is the microprocessor is an SEC KS57P23040 but I’m damned if I can find a data sheet for it as nearly all the google hits for it are in Chinese! I suppose it also doesn’t help that I don’t have the fonts installed so all I get for the page on the ware for example is “讯驰U3 CDMA无线网卡遵循CDMA 1X标准,采用USB接口,最高传输速率为230.4Kbps,具有收发短信,群发功能,电话和电话簿功能,来电显示,流量的统计功能,方便浏览WEB与发送电子邮件,讯驰U3价格低廉,具有不错的性价比.” :)

    P.S. Anyone know where I can find English SEC datasheets? ;)

  7. bitrex says:

    P.P.S. Way to go, Jered. I can’t remember how many pages of USB dongles with weird side headphone jacks I crawled through – I figured you or someone else above me had the class of device correct so I had to find the exact ware! Obviously I couldn’t do it – so I threw in the Trackstick because it looked kind of right (maybe the underside was hidden to conceal the AA battery slot?) and on the off chance that everyone else might be off-base. Merry Christmas, and I say take the black one! ;)

  8. [...] Bunnie over at Bunnie: Studios posted the answer to the name that ware November riddle, which I wrote about previously. I suggest you click through for a full explanation and photos but let’s just say that my “That must be some kind of MP3 player with Secure Digital expansion slot” was not only too simplistic but way off the mark besides. At least I know when I’m in over my head, which is why I didn’t hazard a guess in the comments. [...]

  9. caustik says:

    This is why, when I need to search the internet, I just stand on top of a really tall building.

  10. Kevin Marks says:

    There is an (experimental) way to do what you want – search chinese websites in english at google. I’m sure they’d love to hear your feedback:

    http://translate.google.com/translate_s?hl=en&clss=&q=USB+mass+storage+controller+ASICs&tq=&sl=en&tl=zh-CN

  11. Flo says:

    btw: a well-known german paper mag. named chumby the gadget of the year in their online-gadget blog.

    In german:
    http://blog.focus.de/techtoys/archives/1120

    google-translation:
    http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.focus.de%2Ftechtoys%2Farchives%2F1120&langpair=de%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8

    btw: “Wecker” = alarm-clock – no idea why google doesn’t know it.

  12. [...] Bunnie Huang has an interesting blog post that touches in passing on certain types of devices using chips of Chinese manufacture that can’t be found, or can scarcely be found, by searching Google in English: Just try searching for USB mass storage controller ASICs, or digital picture frame SoCs on Google in English, and then go and open up one of these devices and compare your findings. I bet you’ll find that the chips most frequently used in these popular devices are best searched for in Chinese. [...]

  13. I might advise always chatting to a pro before installing cctv