YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR – OR LESS

I bought my first media streaming device — the Roku HD Streaming Player, aka Roku 1 in January 2013. It was easy to set up and worked perfectly. Never hiccupped. Always connected to the WiFi and never faltered. I liked it so much, I bought another one for the bedroom a couple of months later. I wrote about it in “Roku – The Little Streaming WiFi Unit That Can” on December 18, 2013. By which time I’d had it for almost a year.

The only problem was the remote. It is line-of-sight. This technology works best in an uncluttered home with fewer dogs. So the remote worked, but it was like target shooting from a long distance with an inaccurate weapon.

FTVstickThis doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s the sort of thing that gets on your nerves over time. I replaced the living room remote with an upgraded version. A nominal improvement.

When Amazon came out with their bargain basement Amazon Fire Stick, I said “Oh, what the hell. Maybe the remote will work better,” and it did. Unfortunately, the stick didn’t. In fact, the stick hardly worked at all. As one reviewer succinctly put it, “You deserve better. Don’t do it.” He was right.

I had read the reviews, but I didn’t read all of them. I missed the ones that said the stick would lose the WiFi and sometimes, would never get it back.

From the beginning, it either couldn’t find our WiFi, or couldn’t hang on to the signal.  Even when it was connected, it was like watching a series of stills with sound. Like one of the strip films we watched in elementary school … a slide show with sound. I am told it’s an antenna problem, but whatever the reason, it stunk.

Roku 1

Last week, I gave up and bought the Roku 3 with the “point anywhere” remote. Which also, I’m told, responds to voice commands. We installed it today and it works. No stuttering, no faltering, no loading problems. Smooth as silk and you can point the remote at your own forehead and it will still work.

So, here’s the cost breakdown.

Roku 3 cost $49.00. Plus $4.20 for an HDMI cable. We got two years of service out of it, so it doesn’t owe us anything. And it still works, just not on this television.

The Amazon Fire Stick was a bust. It cost $39.00, was unsatisfactory for all 90 days of its service. The new, improved, wonderful Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (4230R) with Voice Search (2015 model) cost $96.04 (and if I’d waited a few days, would have cost $20 less), but really when you include the cost of the Fire Stick, it’s more like $140.

It reminds me of how I always used to buy the cheaper, less comfortable shoes. Eventually, when I couldn’t walk in the shoes I had bought, I ended up buying the more expensive ones, too.

roku 3

In total, I spent more than $200 on a streaming devices. If I had bought the Roku 3 in the first place, I would have spent half that.

The motto of the story is worth remembering. You aren’t saving money by buying shoes that you can’t wear. If your feet hurt, the movie won’t load, the remote control drives you bonkers? You haven’t saved money if you will have to buy it again.

It’s not cheap if it doesn’t do the job.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

25 thoughts on “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR – OR LESS”

    1. I am an admitted techo-junkie. I love widgets and gadgets and computers and cameras. This probably makes sense since I was a technical writer in a development environment for 35 years. I lived and worked amongst the kigs and queens of techo addiction. I LOVE computers and software. I enjoy being connected … but I’m pretty picky about quality, too. So yes, you are right. Despite the rumors that older people don’t “get technology,” when other people in the family … kids and grandchildren and their friends need help with their computers, they come to granny. Because she can usually make it work and if she can’t, it’s probably dead and needs to be replaced.

      I try to pass the information along since maybe I can save you or someone else the price of buying something that doesn’t work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I must say your grand children and friends are so lucky to have you around. I wish I was staying near you to learn everything from you right from photography to computers.

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  1. I used to do the same thing with food. Like “value orange squash”, which was so weak I had to use three times as much to get the same taste, so it ended up costing more.

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    1. We used to do it with food too and it wound up not only in not saving much money, but in getting a lot of inedible meat. The cheap stuff is tough as nails. It actually mostly cured us of eating red meat. These days, we buy less, but we buy better.

      If it isn’t what you need and wont’ really do the job, it doesn’t matter how cheap it is. It’s still a waste of money. And you are going to go through significant aggravation as an added perk.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite true. It is always the best policy to buy the best model you can afford which is not always the most expensive and certainly cheaper than a string of “mistakes”. Even if you can’t really afford to pay more in the short term it usually winds up being better in the long run to fork out the extra cash or wait till you can.

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    1. I learned my lesson in shoes, probably because in his pre-television career, my husband sold children’s shoes. He is very concerned with properly fitting footwear.

      Not only that, but he’s a clothes horse and will go shopping with me (and my granddaughter — what a good grandfather!) and tell you if the dress fits and whether or not it’s flattering. And whether or not it is made well (check those seams for finishing!) …

      It’s harder to learn the lesson in technology because you really can’t know if something is working well until enough people have reviewed it to learn the good and the bad. Many people, including me, hold back on reviewing until they’ve been using it for a while to make sure it continues to work. Sometimes, you take a leap of faith and it pays off. Other times, not so much. This one was “not so much!”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also tried the Google Chromecast USB device and found it to be a marginal product at best.., returned it to Costco. Then I discovered TVs with built in streaming, and that’s what got me to thinking’.., my cable/satelite company was not too happy when I discontinued service. But I was very happy not to pay $80/month for endless channels of stuff I mostly didn’t use, or want.

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        1. We aren’t quite ready to give it up yet. Garry is very wedded to sports … and that’s the one thing you can’t (yet) get via WiFi. But I’ll bet it will happen and pretty soon. Then, good bye cable! They charge us an obscene amount of money for mostly junk.

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          1. From what I’ve heard the cabe and satellite companies are in trouble, or are getting nervous, as so many folks have canceled service to pursue other means. The tough thing is the kids that have grown up with cable and computers and iPods and tablets, cell phones and the like, who just expect it all to be there.

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  3. That used to be my life, always trying to save money. That changed just recently when I had an ah-ha moment with my camera. Now, I buy the best I can afford, which is still not the best because there is always something better, something bigger, something. That seems to be the problem with everything, always somehing!

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    1. I wait until they are about to bring out the next new thing when prices drop by hundreds of dollars. Also, there are flash sales on Adorama and Amazon and if you can buy when the sale hits — sometimes it’s just a few hours — you can get some amazing deals on cameras and lenses. I’ve been very lucky with that. But I also have learned to buy what I need, not what’s trendy. There are so many stupid bells and whistles on electronic equipment — stuff I will never use and I don’t know anyone who uses it — that I usually don’t consider the top of the line model because it really won’t give ME anything I need. But I do try to get good stuff that will last and make me happy when I use it.

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  4. hard lesson to learn, and some folks never do. mother always bought my yearly “go to the big deal dance” dress as an off price size. The right size, and it fit but just barely. It looked, as she said, like the more expensive one, but it was a bit snug here and tight there…and she managed to save five bucks. (In those days that was a fair amount of cash). But by the time the next big deal dance rolled around I couldnt even zip the damn thing and we had to spend more on another cheap dress. sigh.

    I did learn that if you buy the camera/electronic gadget that’s on sale because its the end of the line and next week they’re bringing in the new model, you can save a huge amount of money on a very good bit of equipment. We’ve bought four cameras like that over the years and the only thing that has changed is the switch from 3″ floppies to chips.

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    1. That is true. Buying top of the line when it’s the end of its line is often an excellent deal. And frequently, iy’s a better machine than the new one they are bringing out. That’s true for both cameras and computers.

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  5. Very true. I hate buying cheap shoes – I have problems anyway so now have to save up to buy the best. Same with my cameras – I am so happy with what I have now – thanks to the IRD.

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  6. … and a streaming device means you don’t really need cable or satellite, just your internet/ WiFi feed at home. I have both Roku and AppleTV devices and I must say I like the Roku better. I found I can waste a bunch of time on either device. Or in other words.., “wasting and loving it.”

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    1. And it’s getting better, too. They are adding more channels everyday. We pay for Netflix, but we use a bunch of free channels too and more are coming. Amazon Prime has some really good original shows, as does NetFlix and I’m about to give Hulu a try.

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        1. I think so. Soon. Right now, there’s almost nothing on WiFi in the way real sports, like football and baseball and basketball. Not even college stuff. They are all locked up with TV only contracts, but that will change and more mainstream broadcast stations — like NBC & CBS — start making their programming available via the net. It’s happening. It will take a little time. Eventually, the cable companies will have gouged us with their last overpriced bill. NO companies deserve to be put out of business more than the cable companies.

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