Before reading that the majority of so called 'branded' SD and CFcards on ebay were fake, I was unlucky enough to buy a fake version of the Extreme III 2Gb SD from an ebay seller (supplier923). Got a full refund very quickly, but I kept the dodgey goods to compare to the genuine article which I bought shortly afterwards from an online store. Oddly enough, he left me +ve feedback straight away, but the item was withdrawn by ebay just after I paid for it, so I couldn't leave -ve! All pictures were taken with the items together to keep the lighting constant- I have had to take crops to get them large enough to see in the limited image size available. I destroyed the fake card (breaks up with surprising ease) after writing this 'guide', the packaging being discarded to the recycle bin.
*** In all the picture pairs below, the FAKE is on the LEFT ***
First of all, the outer packaging:
There are numerous differences in the boxes not visible in the limited picture size available. The most obvious are the colour of the bronze band at the top (more of a grey on the fake box) and the way the camera looks like it's been stuck on to a background then copied for printing. On the genuine box, the camera blends in to the background seamlessly. There are colour differences in the camera and lens too.
Again, the colour difference in the bronze band is visible on the rear of the box. Total different content too, although this may be due to my knocked off copy being a copy of an earlier model.
SanDisk internal packaging is heat sealed so needs scissors or a sharp knife to get into, the fake is a 'clam shell' type which just pops open. Genuine user guide is printed on thicker whiter paper. Travel pouches are completely different design, fake may have been copied from an earlier model. Printing on the SanDisk pouch is slightly heavier, and there is a 'Made in China' label inside.
Tatty printing on the fake rescue CD, and it has a used look about it. The genuine CD envelope has an unlock code stuck on the back.
Quite a few differences on the cards themselves, label on the fake is misaligned (like it's been stuck on by hand), has the wrong colour bronze at the top again, and is a slightly odd shape. The genuine card has a more rounded groove at the bottom as well as the obvious notch. Holographic type E treme and ESP technology part of the labels both look the same, the differences here are due to slightly different lighting angles.
Blindingly obvious differences here, no need for a detailed description! The contacts are different colours too, probably different metal compounds used. The fake has signs of use on the contacts, the genuine Sandisk contacts are clean and unmarked.
Performance wise, the fake card is slooooooow! I always shoot in RAW, so file size is large (about 10Mb per pic) and the fake locks the camera up after just 4 frames in burst mode while it transfers data and goes out for lunch! The SanDisk goes on to around 9 frames, then rapidly empties the camera buffer ready for the next shot. The fake is VISIBLY slower in the camera when displaying thumbnails. I ran the fake and a SanDisk Ultra II 1Gb card through Sisoft Sandra benchmarking software for a laugh too, needless to say the Ultra II was around 10 times faster. The fake was so slow, I actually thought my PC had locked up!