Why I don’t rent, or buy subsidized devices

I recently made the decision to check out IP TV at home. While I don’t watch much TV anymore, I just wanted to check it out and watch the occasional show (mostly football) on TV. That’s what I’m paying nearly €20 per month for anyway in Germany (every household does, even if you don’t watch TV at all).

Anyway, I had the option to rent a box from my Internet provider or buy the box directly. The receiver would set me back about €5 per month as a rental or €200 if I’d buy it new (used offers starting at about €120).

While renting surely has advantages, you may get a replacement quickly and upgrade to the next model when it comes out without extra costs, it is more expensive if you calculate the costs.

At €5 per month, I’d break even after 40 months if I’d buy a new receiver, or 24 months if I’d buy used. This looks like a long period but considering that devices are not changed that often it is more feasible economically and that is not taking into account the resell value of the receiver.

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If you pay more for renting cable boxes or devices, you reach the break even earlier. American households pay $231 per year on average for renting cable boxes for instance. While US American cable companies sometimes seem to lock boxes so that customers cannot just buy a box directly, that is not the case in most parts of the world.

Another example. Instead of getting a new mobile phone contract and device subsidized at the same time, I made the decision to buy the smartphone directly instead.

If I’d accept the offer to get the subsidized phone, I’d pay more for it than buying it retail. That’s again not taking into account that you get an unlocked phone right out of the box that you can use any way you please.

On top of all that, my provider rewarded me for not selecting a new phone by dropping €10 from the monthly payments I made for the mobile plan.

On a two year plan, buying directly saved me more than €300 without sacrificing anything.

Buying directly is cheaper and it puts you in full control of the device. You can modify it, for instance by installing new firmware without having to fear repercussions (if it is rented).

You can on top of that sell the device at any time, for instance to get a newer one and make some of the money back that you have spend buying it.

I bought the router as well instead of renting it from the provider. This allowed me to pick a better model which offered advanced functionality that the basic routers the Internet provider offered did not support.

There is one caveat and that is that you need to have the money in first place to buy the device right away.

Another issue that you may run into is if cable companies use special software in their cable boxes that may limit functionality when third-party boxes are used. This is often the case in the US where some functionality becomes unavailable.

As far as routers are concerned, Internet providers may sometimes refuse support if you are not using devices they are offering.

Now You: Do you buy or rent, and why?


Article Name

Why I don’t rent, or buy subsidized devices


Martin Brinkmann


My top reasons for not renting devices, and not buying subsidized phones.

About Martin Brinkmann

Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News Back in 2005. He is passionate about all things tech and knows the Internet and computers like the back of his hand. You can follow Martin on Facebook, Twitter or Google+

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