I wanted some TiVo-like functionality, but I hate paying monthly fees if I can avoid it, so I decided to try a DVD recorder that can pause live TV and is programmable. I shopped around for a while before I found something that was in the price range I thought was reasonable (about $100).
I ended up going with a refurbished model from Amazon, which at the time was about a third of the price for a new unit.
It turned out to be a good, but not great choice. It does work pretty much how I wanted it to, but I’mmissing the integration that a TiVo or dedicated cable DVR would bring.
I hope to talk more about this item as I get to use it a little more, but I want to talk about the risks of buying refurbished. For those who aren’t aware, refurbished products are generally those that have been returned to a retail store for any number of reasons. Some of them just didn’t work, but some of them just weren’t what the customer expected. After the return, the company retests the unit, fixes it if necessary and resells it, usually at a significant discount.
Sometimes a unit will come out of this process and still not work. This varies from company to company, so you’ll want to be very careful on how the return process works.
In most cases, you will have to assume the cost of shipping the unit back to the company for additional repairs or for a replacement.
My general rule of thumb is that you should assume that the first unit you get is going to be bad, if your item is still a good deal, you can pick it up. Most of the time this means you are probably not going to buy low-ticket items on a refurbished basis, which makes a good deal of sense. Clearly in my case this was a safe risk to take, and it has definitely paid off.