You Get What You Pay For, But How Much Does It Cost?

It’s one of the oldest of old school pieces of advice ever given –
You get what you pay for

  In fact, I’ve said it countless times throughout my life, and tend to follow it – especially when it comes to tech gadgets. And for the most part, it trends to hold true without fail. Recently however, I may have run into the all-important exception to the rule.

  In  The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 2: Equipment and Cost, I suggested the Motorola SURFboard eXtreme SB6141 (DOCSIS 3.0).I also mentioned that I had originally purchased a Netgear equivalent to this model, the CMD31T, but it kept periodically dropping the connection.

At the time, I purchased the SB6141 for $149.99 – not the most expensive modem on the market, but enough of a price that I expected top-notch performance with no hassles. In other words, I expected to get what I paid for. Unfortunately the SB6141 turned out to be anything but hassle free.

 From the onset, something seemed odd. Whenever I would log into the modem’s interface, the log would have countless errors listed – some controlled, many others not. At first, this did not present an issue. But over time, many errors began showing up as critical, and the modem would reboot on its own. At first, it happened a few times so I didn’t think much of it. But over time the condition got progressively worse.  Then, the oddest thing happened.One day, I was home with my sons – one taking a nap and the other on the couch with me watching a movie. It was raining pretty hard outside, but I didn’t think much of it. But then, there was an earth-shattering BOOM! Yep – of all things, our house got struck by lightning. As you might imagine, there were a few electronic items that were lost. But that’s what insurance is for!

  The SB6141 was still functional though, so I replaced all the other damaged items and in a day or so my network was back up and running. 

  Well, sort of….  The rebooting issue got worse and worse. The error log was multiple pages long. Finally, after day or so of hoping things would get better, and having Time Warner come out and replace the main run to our house and several inside, I decided to go ahead an replace it. Thniking it had to have been damaged by the lightning strike, I returned it and got another SB6141. Two days later, I got a text message from my wife telling me the Plex channel would not play. I established a remote connection and checked the error log of the brand new SB6141 – it was deja vu all over again

   Fortunately, the Time Warner tech who came out was the kind of tech all techs in any industry should be – an honest one. He had told me that the SB6141 was actually known to have these issues. In fact, although it’s listed in the top group of modems to buy on the Time Warner website, he said he would not recommend it. In fact, he had one at his home and had the same problems with it and got rid of it.

  Now, before anyone asks “didn’t you read any reviews before you bought it?” – yes I did. However, the majority of the reviews were positive so I chose it. Plus, I’d had Motorola modems in the past that didn’t give me any problems.

  So, as soon as I could, I took down the new SB6141 and headed to Best Buy for yet another warranty exchange. Oddly enough, while reading random reviews of other modems, I found one that seemed to consistently get 4 – 5 star ratings from users.- the Zoom 5341J. Better yet, this modem was only $74.

   The Zoom has turned out to be what a modem should be – a simple, working device. I’ve logged into the interface periodically to find what I should have found with the Motorola – 0 errors, 0 correctable, with 0 noncollectable. And, to this day, it continues to simply work, as a modem should.

   For the most part, “you get what you pay for” may ring true. But the exception to the rule is –

Higher price does not always mean higher quality


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