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I have MTS Ultimate TV, and I enjoy having the first STB for free and you only pay $5/month for an upgrade to a Whole Home PVR, and $3/month for an extra STB. I am looking at the other providers in Canada (cable and satellite), and I noticed how you can rent a box or buy it. For example, Bell Fibe TV's PVR is $20/month, or you can buy it for $249.50, I don't get this. I'm lucky that I have MTS because $20 dollars to rent a box is overkill for me, which is why we switched from Shaw. I wonder if it would be better to rent or buy a STB, and why providers do this? Is this some kind of money-grab or something? Any opinions?
 

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Some of the pros of buying:
- If you own it, you may be able upgrade the internal harddrive yourself
- you don't need to pay a monthly rental fee, which eventually will allow the box to pay for itself (at $20/month a $250 box would pay for itself in around a year, after it is essentially free -- after five years, you would be up by around $1000).

Some of the pros of renting:
- no large initial cash outlay
- you are not locked into that particular provider (if you own the box, you are pretty much stuck the the provider that goes with that box)
- if a new model comes out, you can usually swap out your rental unit for a new and improved one

You need to consider how long it will be before the particular box you are considering will become obsolete. You don't want to buy a box and then discover that they are releasing a new 1080p box with HD sound the next day.

However, new boxes come out very infrequently and there is only so much a new box will be able to do, as they must maintain compatibility with old ones (even if you have a box that can do 1080p, all HD programming is 1080i and 720p -- all you could hope for is better upconversion/deinterlacing).
 

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I'm not sure about other providers, but Shaw now warranties boxes for as long as you are with them, assuming you are a triple play customer. I have owned numerous boxes over the years starting with the DCT2000 (two of them), then a 5100, then a 6412 P3 and then a 6416. I replaced the first DCT2000 with the 5100 for HD service back in 2001. I gave that one to a family member. When I bought the 6412, I gave the second 2000 to another family member. When I bought the 6416, I gave the 6412 to my son. I am happy to report that all units are still in service today.

The point being is that if you purchased a box you avoid monthly fees (plus GST or HST) and it will pay for itself relatively quickly. If you tire of the box you can use it elsewhere in your house, give it away or sell it. But as scampbell has said, the boxes change infrequently. So you will have many happy years of viewing once you've reached the payback point.
 
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