Buying a Refurb Roku

Posted In: Blog, Product Review, RV Products

Here’s a money saving tip: buy refurbished electronics. This week Kristy and I picked up our second Roku box, a refurbished Roku 2 XD (, a 1080p media streaming device.

Someone at Roku obviously graduated from the Microsoft school of “How to Sell 15 Slightly Different Versions of the Same Product.” There are several slightly different versions of Roku box with mysterious designations like 1, 2, 3, XD, XS, and HD. Frankly, the differences between models are not that significant. If you want pick up the cheapest refurb available, go for a refurbished Roku HD (it streams in 720p instead of 1080p, a minute quality difference most people will not find noticeable).

Several years ago we “cut the cable” and began using an antenna and the Internet to get our video fix. The Roku is the best Internet video streaming device we’ve found. It’s small and convenient for RV travel, and it offers a zillion or so channels of video streaming.

So what is a “refurb” and why did we buy one?

The Roku XD is a 1080P video streaming device. It's quite small and lightweight. (Click the pic for more info.)

The Roku XD is a 1080P video streaming device for watching Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. It’s quite small and lightweight. Our refurb looked fine, but it was missing the glossy protective plastic that usually covers the top of a new unit. (Click the pic for more info.)

A refurbished item is a product that has been previously returned to a manufacturer or vendor for various reasons. Refurbished products are tested for functionality and defects before they are sold.

Buying a refurb is kind of like buying a certified pre-owned car. Hopefully you won’t get a lemon. Prices vary, but you may save as much as 50% by buying a refurb. My guess is that our refurb Roku 2 will serve us just as well as a new unit might have done, but it cost 40% less and included a free HDMI cable.

Ah hah! The "B-stock" sticker is a dead giveaway - it's a refurb. (Click the pic for more info.)

Ah hah! The “B-stock” sticker is a dead giveaway – it’s a refurb. (Click the pic for more info.)

Refurbished units comes from different places. They may be unused customer returns that are essentially new items. Or they may be defective products that were returned under warranty, and resold by the manufacturer after repairing the defects and ensuring proper function. Sometimes refurbs are sourced from demonstration models.

Over the years we’ve bought a variety of refurbished products, from computers to digital SLR cameras to lenses to iPads to this Roku. So far (knock on wood) we haven’t had ANY problems with ANY refurbished item. All of our refurbs have worked just great.

Roku remotes are brilliant - small, simple, and effective. Note that this one has a dedicated Netflix button, woo hoo!

Roku remotes are brilliant – small, simple, and effective. Note that this one has a dedicated Netflix button, woo hoo!

Some refurbs are nicer than others. Official Apple factory refurbished items are the best; they are reconditioned by Apple and emerge virtually indistinguishable from new. Nikon refurbs are excellent. Other refurbished items are not so slick.

In the case of this Roku 2, it’s obviously a refurb. It was delivered in a plain box instead of the factory original packaging. This in itself is not unusual for a refurb.

But upon examination, it looks a little more like a used item than a typical refurb. It just doesn’t have that “new” glossy shine. There are a couple of faint cosmetic scuffs on the surface the unit.

But hey, its function in life is simply to sit next to our TV, collect dust, and stream video. It’s doing that just fine. Plus, it came packaged with a 90-day warranty. With electronics, if something is going to go wrong, it usually happens soon after powering up. We’ll use it a lot for the next month in an attempt to trigger a failure.

Here's everything that comes in the refurb box. Note the free HDMI cable. Oddly, the two AAA batteries were mismatched brands! Oh well - sometimes you may see a few weird things with refurbs.

Here’s everything that comes in the refurb Roku box. Note the included free HDMI cable, a welcome bonus. Oddly, the two AAA batteries were mismatched brands. Oh well – sometimes you may see a few weird things with refurbs.

Electronics are kind of like cars. The moment you start using them, they become “used.” They also lose value faster than last week’s newspaper, or perhaps I should say the entire newspaper industry. Remember newspapers?

If you don’t mind the lack of new packaging and glossy shine, and you are comfortable with a 90-day warranty, saving money with refurbished products (like the Roku 2) is a great way to go.

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