Updated April 14, 2021
There are great bargains available online for cord cutters hunting for discounts on streaming TV devices, DVRs like Tablo, TV antennas, and more.
(In fact, we try to link to as many as possible in our newsletter Cord Cutting This Week and share them on our Facebook and Twitter feeds!)
But before you hit ‘buy now’ on your latest device purchase, double check these three things to ensure you’re getting a deal and not a dud.
Keep reading to learn more…
1. Check the Device Model & Details
Technology moves fast these days. New and improved models of your favorite cord cutting gear are coming out all the time.
But before you jump on that older model clearance sale, make sure you understand the differences between the two generations of products and if the older model is eligible for future software updates and support.
For example, the newer Tablo QUAD OTA DVR has upgraded WiFi and the option of placing a SATA drive inside the unit. But if you’re planning to connect your Tablo to the network via Ethernet and use a portable USB hard drive for storage, you could save 50% by choosing a refurbished previous-generation 4-Tuner Tablo.
Tablo DVRs sold back in 2014 are still eligible for the latest firmware updates and ongoing technical support, but that’s not the case with all gadgets.
2. Check the Vendor (Official vs. Third Party)
While you might expect a deal listed on eBay to be sold by a random person, this can be the case even when you’re shopping on the website of a major online retailer.
If a product is out-of-stock via its regular vendor on an online retailer, third-party sellers can take over what’s called the ‘buy box’. In that case, when you hit ‘add to cart’ you’re not buying directly from the retailer or the company that makes the product, but a separate entity that could have no official ties to the product’s manufacturer, sales, or support channel at all.
Why does this matter? When the seller you purchased from isn’t an official vendor, return or warranty policies may be different or not apply at all.
(FYI – Aside from purchasing direct from TabloTV.com, the official retailers for new Tablo OTA DVRs are currently Best Buy, Amazon, and Microcenter. For up-to-date links to our authorized retailers, check out our US and Canadian webstores.)
To avoid problems with your purchase, make sure the online listing says ‘sold & shipped by’ the retailer/manufacturer or buy directly from the manufacturer’s website.
3. Check the Product Status (New/Used/Refurbished/Open Box)
When you buy a new product from an official retailer or manufacturer, it should indeed be new.
If the seals on the packaging have been broken, the device is missing a promised trial period, or contains another consumer’s data because of a supply chain error, the vendor should be happy to offer you a fix or a replacement.
When buying a refurbished product to save some cash, look for gadgets that are re-processed at the factory or the manufacturer’s HQ like Tablo DVRs.
(The Tablo web store and Tablo's eBay store are the ONLY places to purchase officially refurbished Tablo DVRs.)
Unlike ‘open box’ electronics, not only will these devices be checked for damage and defects, but they’ll include all the correct power adapters, accessories, and should ensure you are getting the latest software update. Some even have full warranties!
As you might expect, buying a used cord cutting device from a random eBay seller, a user group, or elsewhere online is a dicey proposition. The seller should be willing and able to answer questions about the device’s history or state. If not, it might be best to walk away.
Why? Along with a lack of warranty, components could be broken or missing. The device could even be locked to a user account that’s not yours if it hasn’t been properly reset.
If you follow these common-sense online shopping tips you can score some great deals and save even more when you cut the cord on cable.
Have questions about deals on Tablo OTA DVRs or where to buy them? Ask us on Facebook or Twitter or send us an email!
Sign up for Tablo's free On TV This Week newsletter to get TV industry news, deals, and how-to advice delivered straight to your inbox!