Best Buy hopes its try-before-you-buy scheme will drive gadget sales

best buy gadget rental camera man
It can be tricky buying a new gadget. You might read pages of online reviews about a new piece of equipment or watch lots of YouTubers taking it for a spin. If you finally decide to hit the buy button, it can be a few weeks before you know for sure that you made the right decision.

Best Buy hopes to make buying gadgets a whole lot easier by offering customers the chance to rent them for a while before making a final decision.

The scheme will start later this month, according to Recode, and focus on a range of popular consumer electronics devices, including cameras, fitness trackers, and audio equipment.

Rental options will show up alongside devices on Best Buy’s shopping website, though the actual scheme will be operated by San Francisco-based startup Lumoid, which has been running a similar kind of service via its own website since 2014.

Instead of using brand-new devices, Best Buy plans to send out products that have been bought and returned. The company reportedly sees this as a good way of making use of such products, as they can’t be resold at full price.

As Recode notes, rival online retailer Amazon doesn’t currently offer any kind of rental system, and so Best Buy sees its new scheme as a chance to attract new customers who like the idea of spending a decent amount of time with a product before deciding if it’s a good fit. Customers who go on to make a purchase will be able reduce its cost by about 20 percent of the final rental fee.

While it’s true that Best Buy already lets you return a product within 15 days for a full refund (though you could be charged a restocking fee), some customers may feel they want more time with something like a camera or fitness tracker as it can take a while to get a true feel of it. Also, it’s safe to assume that most customers who hit the buy button have little intention of returning it, whereas those of two minds are more likely to pull back from a purchase. A rental scheme therefore lowers the psychological barrier for undecided customers and could potentially lead to more sales.

Details on rental prices have yet to be revealed. Oh, and just in case you’re already making plans to use the scheme to try out DJI’s new Spark quadcopter, then you’ll be disappointed to learn that drones will not be offered. Best Buy probably realizes that that kind of rental has a good chance of coming back in bits so isn’t worth the hassle.


Why Honor’s new screen is the hole-y grail in quest to ditch the notch

Honor will release a smartphone with an in-screen camera in the new year, a trend which is gathering momentum in the industry. Honor said it has cracked the formula, and explains what's special about its All-View Display.

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.

Mining cryptocurrency for Razer Silver isn’t worth your computing power

Gaming peripheral maker Razer launched a cryptocurrency mining scheme called SoftMiner. You use its software to mine and in return, you get Razer Silver which you can use to buy Razer gear.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.

T-Mobile is giving away free iPhone XRs and Galaxy S9s for the holidays

T-Mobile is celebrating the holiday season with a series of deals for customers who want an iPhone XR, Galaxy S9, OnePlus 6T, LG V40, or LG G7. There are terms and conditions to the deals, but they are still worth considering.
Smart Home

These activists are hacking housing problems in NYC using apps and data

There are 1.2 million people living in "deficient" housing in New York City and now these coders are making easy-to-use, intuitive apps designed to give tenants a fighting chance against unscrupulous landlords.

Google Assistant will alert you if it thinks your flight will be delayed

Google Assistant will soon be able to alert you if your flight is delayed. Using historical flight status data and machine learning, the service can even predict a flight delay before it's been officially confirmed.

Forget 3 being a crowd, 4 is the magic number on the Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei's sequel to the P20 Pro, the P30 Pro, has already started to leak ahead of its 2019 announcement and release. The company is likely to improve even further on the P20 Pro's excellent camera.

Here are 19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…

How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.

Declutter your life with our favorite wireless chargers for Android and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.

Microsoft patent filing shows wearable that mitigates involuntary movements

A patent application from Microsoft has shown the company is looking into using wearable technology to alleviate symptoms from various diseases and disorders that cause involuntary movements.

AT&T makes 5G a reality for a dozen U.S. cities, with more to come in 2019

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.