We don’t know what to believe anymore.

Our writer Go Hatori has spent much of his career wallowing in the seedier corners of the Internet, where the worst scammers and thieves call home. He does this in the hopes that it will shed light on their practices and keep us all safe, and to get the occasional recipe while he’s at it.

▼ This fried rice was made thanks to some kind of multi-level marketing person

But years of doing this have taken their toll on Go, and he’s grown incredibly cynical about everything he sees online. Even the reviews on Amazon arouse suspicion, so he recently started using Sakura Checker, a website that scans Amazon pages for suspected “sakura” which is the Japanese term for a “shill” or someone who fraudulently promotes a product or service.

By copying and pasting the Amazon link into Sakura Checker’s search bar, it will assign a Sakura Rate which is a percentage of how many of the reviews it believes are fake. Go immediately began auditing everything he’d ever bought on Amazon, including his Elecaenta 30W Solar Charger 3-USB Port PD18W/QC3.0 Rapid Charge.

He had bought this solar-powered smartphone charger exactly one year ago, but never had a chance to get outdoors enough to try it out. It received good reviews, with an average of 4.1 stars over 539 ratings and cost him 7,399 yen (US$53).

However, when he ran it through Sakura Checker, it claimed that 99 percent of those reviews are fake. It also gave it’s approximate real rating of only 1.59 stars out of five.

Go’s heart sank at the results. It was a fairly expensive device and he’d been led into the sakura trap like a sucker. Having never actually used it, this so-called “solar-powered charger” might just be a pile of useless plastic.

Then again, simply because the product uses sakura doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a piece of junk. It could just be a normal product trying to get ahead in a highly competitive marketplace. And in the spirit of total paranoia, who’s to say that Sakura Checker is all that it’s cracked up to be? He had just come across it recently, after all.

To find out if it really was a pile of useless plastic, he took it to the super-cheap SoraHouse in the countryside, where he tests out all of his dubious purchases, and waited until it was needed.

Yoshio: “Hey! I need a charge.”

Yoshio’s iPhone’s battery hung at a precarious 49 percent while far away from civilization.

This was a job for Elecaenta.

Go spread out the solar panels on the lawn. It was a partly cloudy day, but there should be plenty of sunshine to get the job done.

On one end of the panels, there’s a little pouch where the actual charger is located. It had three USB ports for simultaneous charging if needed. By the looks of it, there was a USB 3.2, USB 2.0, and USB-C port.

Go peeked inside and was delighted to see the charger’s little LED had lit up. This suggested it was working and ready to start charging.

Yoshio’s charging cable went in without a hitch.

And Go grew increasingly relieved to see that the phone was detecting the charger.

The pouch was a nice idea since it would be terrible to have to leave your phone out in direct sunlight while it charged.

He left it sitting in the grass, while the team got back to the demanding work of cleaning literal crap out of their house.

About an hour later, Yoshio went back to check on his phone…

The look on his face said it all.

▼ Yoshio: “It charged!”

The Elecaenta managed to generate about a quarter charge in one hour on a partly cloudy day. Had the sky been perfectly clear, the performance probably would have been even better. That still wouldn’t be a blazing speed compared to charging it in an outlet, but for a solar charger it wasn’t bad at all.

Go was very happy to learn that despite its apparent use of sakura, his Elecaenta wasn’t a bad product after all. He put it back in his closet for safekeeping until his next outdoor adventure.

I guess the moral of this story is that there’s so much fake stuff on the Internet these days that it doesn’t even always result in something bad happening. That’s not an especially comforting moral, but it is a reminder to take everything you see online with a grain of salt.

Related: Sakura Checker, Amazon / Elecaenta 30W Solar Charger 3-USB Port PD18W/QC3.0 Rapid Charge
Photos ©SoraNews24
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