I’ve seen a lot of warnings lately saying don’t load the Temu app or buy from the store. There have been plenty of accusations but few actual, validated facts.

While I’ve been very leery of Facebook ads because I’ve lost around $150 on Facebook scams so far, I did recently buy a smart toilet from Homary to replace my $5,000 (now more like $7,000) Toto Neorest, which had started to sound like it was going to swallow me. Thankfully, the new one is working fine.

Let me share my experiences with both companies as they compare to their far more expensive U.S. and Japanese competitors. We’ll end with my Product of the Week, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, which is currently between six and 12 months ahead of AMD and Intel and sets the near-term bar for the AI PC.

Temu vs. Amazon

To say I buy a lot from Amazon would be an understatement. I rarely shop anywhere else, even though I almost stopped shopping there after a $200 Amazon gift card was stolen in transit, used, and not refunded. I’m still upset about that and have stopped buying Amazon gift cards, which, up until then, were my go-to gift purchase.

Amazon’s advantages are that it delivers more quickly, the goods are better packaged, and the quality and customer support, except for that gift card issue, has been exceptional.

Temu is a ton cheaper. For example:

  • I bought a nice automatic dragon buckle belt from Amazon for $23.99. I purchased a similar automatic belt from Temu with a Jaguar (car) buckle for $9.19.
  • I bought a nice back brace from Amazon that set me back $29.97. I bought a better one on Temu for $10.88.
  • Most interestingly, on March 3, I bought an LED exhaust tip from Amazon for $41.39 out of China, which has yet to arrive, and the same exact thing from Temu on March 23 for $22.07, delivered on April 2.
  • A keychain from Amazon was $11.99, and the same thing from Temu was $1.74, though it was delivered a week and a half later than the one from Amazon.

Yes, some things from Temu have been low quality, but I’ve had quality issues with eBay out of China from time to time, as well as stuff from Amazon. You have to be careful, but the Temu merchandise is 50 to 90% cheaper than similar things from Amazon.

Some questionable items included a $15 smartwatch that worked but was hardly an Apple Watch replacement. I bought a pair of $17 tennis shoes that looked great but felt cheap, making me doubt whether they’d hold up. I’ve purchased several tools from Temu, and all have worked fine and were of similar quality to Craftsman, though not the same level of quality as Snap-on tools. Still, for me, they were fine, and for a little bit of money, I’ve really fleshed out my tool sets.

Temu Value, Privacy, Packaging

In general, I’ve been happy with the Temu experience once I got over the shipping time. They tend to text me a lot, but I’m not finding that particularly annoying, and I’ve bought from the offers a couple of times.

As far as data capture is concerned, I got the app through the Google Store, which means it is curated, and I’m not yet seeing my online ads shift to whatever I shopped for, as I often do with Amazon. All online retailers capture data and use it to promote product sales. While I’ve seen the warnings that Temu is spying on you, I see less impact from Temu than from Amazon, Facebook, or even eBay. So, although the concern is real, the size of the problem doesn’t yet appear to be problematic.

It can be addictive as you can shop for what seems like a lot of things and still not spend much over $100. The same experience on Amazon, or Costco for that matter, would typically have you spending hundreds more. All of these things can be a bit addictive, but at least Temu is far less expensive on average.

One significant difference is packaging quality. Amazon’s is good, though wasteful in terms of cardboard use. Temu shoves everything into a plastic bag, which is more sustainable, though I’ve had two shipments arrive with the bag torn open. While nothing was lost, it supports the idea of not buying anything expensive on Temu yet.

Homary vs. Toto

For some time, the Toto Neorest smart toilet has been the gold standard for this class of bathroom products, but it is expensive. If there is no repair facility close to you and you have a problem, you have to disassemble the toilet, send its “brain” back to Toto, and then wait for it to be repaired before you can use it again.

When we remodeled our home, we bought three Toto toilets, two for $3,500 and one for $5,000. Of course, it was the $5,000 one that started to make sounds like it had eaten a bridge troll, and that troll was going to eat our backsides. Otherwise, the toilet has been problem-free and incredibly quiet.

We needed a black toilet, and you can’t get one of those as a Neorest from Toto, at least not in my area. In addition, the noise caused by the toilet has increased in price to closer to $7,000. Given the repair issues, we considered getting a Kohler Numi, which does come in black but costs a whopping $10,000 (and looks really uncomfortable), or a black toilet from Homary, which costs under $1,000.

Switching to Homary: A Smart Toilet Transition

Getting the Toto out and installing the Homary cost around $750, but it was pretty straightforward. The biggest issue is that both toilets are porcelain, making them pretty heavy to work with

When we installed a black Homary, it looked better and functioned the same as the Toto. Yes, it makes more noise than the Toto did when it was new, and its remote looks more like something that would be connected to a TV rather than a toilet, but overall, we don’t seem to be missing the Toto, and the Homary (which is made in China) has worked flawlessly. Granted, it isn’t as high-quality as the Toto, but for a $6,000 savings, I’m willing to take a slight reduction in quality.

I should add that it looks like Amazon has a similar smart toilet for a little more with a better remote. So, if you are in the market, you might also want to consider that one. (I didn’t think to check Amazon before buying from Homary.)

I’ve also purchased a nightstand from Homary, which was reasonably priced and of decent quality. So far, Homary is a nice alternative to Amazon, and their toilet is a far cheaper alternative to the Toto Neorest or Kohler Numi.

Wrapping Up

While you need to be careful when buying from any new vendor, I’ve found Temu and Homary to provide adequate quality products at reasonable, or in Temu’s case, really low prices. However, Temu shopping can be a bit addictive. While writing this column, I found a few things I wanted to get on the site. Now I’m down another $133, so do be careful.

I think the Temu concerns are overblown. It feels to me like “someone” is trying to FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) the vendor, a practice I’m not a fan of as it stinks of unfair trade practices.

But do be careful, and best of luck with your shopping experiences. Now, excuse me, I think I see something else on Temu I want to buy. Oh crap.

Snapdragon X Elite

Microsoft has been pushing the AI PC hard, and the poster child processor for this new concept of an even smarter PC is the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite solution. It’s the poster child because, when running AI, it doesn’t lose a ton of battery life.

The coming wave of desktop AI (currently, AI mostly runs in the cloud) has to run all the time to be effective. But if the platform is too power-intensive, your battery life craters, which is why Microsoft went to Qualcomm, a leader in high-end smartphone technology, for a fix.

This laptop solution is expected to be available in the next few months. Based on the third-party testing I’ve seen, it is six to 12 months ahead of its PC competitors. Be aware, though, that this desktop AI component isn’t fully cooked yet and may not be until closer to the end of the year. However, for AI use, at least initially, the Qualcomm part is able to take on all competitors.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite

The Snapdragon X Elite processor is built for AI. (Image Credit: Qualcomm)

My carry laptop is a second-generation HP Folio with an older Snapdragon solution. While the performance leaves a bit to be desired, the battery life is nothing short of amazing. I can leave my charger and laptop bag in the hotel room or at home and just carry the laptop. The new part not only adds AI capabilities but also increases the performance of the related laptop significantly while still maintaining that exceedingly high battery life.

I mostly work in Office and will thus become a heavy user of Copilot. So, having a laptop that runs Copilot (Microsoft’s generative AI solution) well and efficiently would be a godsend.

Because the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite improves my current laptop experience significantly, it is my Product of the Week.


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